30th June 2016
Weetslade Country Park is celebrating its 10 year anniversary since being unveiled to the public, having been transformed from an abandoned colliery site to a popular wildlife-rich green space.
During 1947 around 160,000 tons of coal was dug from Weetslade Colliery and used for household, manufacturing and steam production. The colliery went on to close in 1966, remaining as a washery until 1980 before being left abandoned for re-colonisation.
The site was eventually extensively landscaped, with the creation of hill, grassland, scrub, reedbed and woodland areas, along with the installation of an eye-catching drill head sculpture at the summit, 95 metres above sea level, acknowledging its proud mining history. National management charity, the Land Trust, took over the site with the aim of opening up community access.
Fast-forward to 2016 and free-to-visit Weetslade Country Park provides an important habitat for birds such as the skylark, grey partridge, reed bunting, bullfinch and lapwing as well as the small skipper butterfly, badgers and deer.
It has been a remarkable journey for the park, officially opened in 2006 and managed on the Land Trust’s behalf by Northumberland Wildlife Trust. Within five years, the park went to win a Green Flag Award in 2011 for its positive environmental impact.
Weetslade Country Park has been embraced by the community it serves, particularly proving popular with volunteers – in 2015/16 alone, dedicated volunteer wardens delivered more than 800 hours of work on site. In the past few years the park has progressed to become a popular venue for local schools’ visits and student trips to study its incredible transformation from an industrial heartland to hotbed of biodiversity.
At Weetslade, each year, by investing in a well maintained, safe green space for the local residents to use, to feel healthier, fitter and part of a community, this contributes the equivalent of £1.48 million of benefits to the health sector and 1.14 million of benefits towards the cost of crime and anti-social behaviour.*
Alan Carter, Director of Portfolio Management at the Land Trust, said: “Since opening 10 years ago, Weetslade Country Park has unlocked vast potential that lay dormant – providing open, accessible space for people to walk, run, cycle, bring the dog and picnic beside the varied species of wildlife that have settled here.
“The success of the park is testament to a strong, prosperous partnership between the Land Trust and Northumberland Wildlife Trust, harnessed in tandem with community input that has driven, and continues to push, the park to new heights.”
Duncan Hutt, Head of Land Management for Northumberland Wildlife Trust, added: “The dedicated team of volunteers who keep the Weetslade Country Park tidy and a great place for wildlife to thrive have been fantastic.”
To find out more about Weetslade Country Park, visit: http://www.thelandtrust.org.uk/space/weetslade To watch a video showing Weetslade in all its glory, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIegCWafKWs
Forthcoming events at Weetslade Country Park include:
Join us for a treasure hunt with a map and use your marine knowledge to answer the questions to find the wooden pieces. Put them together to make your prize!
Not suitable for under 5s. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
Explore our collection of animal skins and skulls, and look for clues to decide which animal they belong to. Better still, make your own plaster cast footprint to take home!
Not suitable for under 5s. All children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
No toilet/hand washing facilities on site.
For more details on both events, call 0191 284 6884 or email email@example.com
* Footnote – These statistics are based on independent research across the Land Trust’s portfolio on the social return on investment in its green spaces, with every £1 invested generates on average £30 towards the health sector and £23 towards crime and anti-social behaviour. Further details on this research can be found at www.thelandtrust.org.uk/charitable-aims/thebenefits
Being active and outdoors, volunteering, gives me a sense of well-being, as well as satisfaction.
Hannah Bagguley, AB Agri volunteer
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