Derwent Valley Car Club, operated by Blackhall Mill Community Association, is an electric car club. It is set up in Blackhill Mill, a small rural village between Gateshead and Country Durham. This area has poor public transport and high but infrequent and expensive car usage.
“We created Derwent Valley Car Club as an affordable local car club, that was both financially and environmentally sustainable”, says Michael Marston, Founder and community leader. “We initially intended to contract out day-to-day operation of the car club to an operator, but then decided to run it independently to retain more control”.
Derwent Valley Car Club works by paying a regular membership fee, and then additional hire fees to use a car. The Club is open to anyone in the local area, and costs as little as £4* to use their car for an hour, with no additional mileage fees. Memberships are required to take an induction before first booking, where they are taught how to charge the electric vehicle and given a test drive if they’ve never driven an electric vehicle before. Derwent Valley Car Club have a fleet of five electric vehicles, and have offered electric bikes for hire in the past.
The car club is run entirely by an impressive team of volunteers. These volunteers run an online booking system and provide a driver scheme for those unable to drive.
In 2019, Derwent Valley Car Club became a partner on Scaling the Street Charging Infrastructure project, funded by Innovate UK and Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), with the aim of delivering 200 on-street charging posts to communities with little off-street parking. They were a key partner in the roll out of electric vehicle charging points in County Durham, encouraging residents to purchase their own vehicle or join the electric car club.
The car club was successful in securing £47,5000 of Village SOS funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, using the funding to purchase an electrical vehicle and instal solar panels on Blackhall Mill Community Centre.
*Currently under review due to increased costs of charging