Wildlife centre rises from the ashes of arson attack

The new wildlife discovery centre under construction at the Hauxley nature reserve. Picture by Duncan Hutt.

The new wildlife discovery centre under construction at the Hauxley nature reserve. Picture by Duncan Hutt.

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Wildlife enthusiasts are getting the chance to take a look at a new discovery centre, which has risen from the ashes of an arson attack.

This time last year, there was a large gap on Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Hauxley nature reserve at Druridge Bay, where its arson-hit visitors centre had once stood.

But volunteers have worked tirelessly through all weathers to construct the new eco-friendly wildlife discovery centre.

Now the trust is inviting people to a special open day at the Low Hauxley reserve on Sunday, February 14, from 10am to 4pm to view the project’s progress.

The Hauxley Volunteer Building Squad set to work last January, with a grant award of £417,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, donations from a number of charitable trusts, a building design from North Shields-based architects Brightblue Studio and fuelled by donations of biscuits from Nestlé UK.

The construction has used locally-grown and traditional building materials, including more than 600 locally-sourced straw bales, turf for the green roof from Ellington, stones for 150 gabion baskets from Howick Quarry and structural timber from the trust’s Briarwood Banks reserve in south Northumberland.

The trust reckons the eco-build has the potential to be the greenest building in the North East.

It will provide a focus for wildlife watching, education and engagement and act as a gateway to Druridge Bay’s wildlife experience

Volunteer Christine Hall said: “This year has been great for us, but next year is going to be even better. I can’t wait till the building is open.”

The reserve is currently closed to members of the public while the centre is under construction.

Work is also being done elsewhere on the reserve – installing new footpaths to make a ciruclar walk, creating new viewing screens and carrying out vital maintenance work on existing hides.

Details of future open days are available at www.nwt.org.uk/what’s-on and the progress of the build can be followed via Facebook at www.facebook.com/HauxleyNatureReserve