Television presenter Simon King officially opened Hauxley Nature Reserve’s innovative wildlife discovery centre today.
The eco-friendly building is believed to be one of the greenest in the North East and replaces the site’s previous centre, which was destroyed by arsonists in June 2010.
The smart-looking venue – boasting an education suite, a café and fine views of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust reserve – was constructed with the help of 112 volunteers, who clocked up more than 22,000 hours since building started in May 2015.
Tasks included building straw walls, filling hundreds of gabion baskets to go into the walls, mixing gallons of clay and lime for the floor, laying and levelling the floor and laying the turf roof.
Mr King OBE, renowned presenter and cameraman specialising in nature documentaries, said it was an honour to open the discovery centre and was impressed by what he saw.
He said: “From the flames has come a phoenix which is beautiful and stunning. It is a magnificent building in what is a jewel in the crown of reserves along the Northumberland coast.
“The discovery centre sits beautifully and harmoniously within the landscape. It is a modern build but it uses organic materials in a way which lend themselves to the feel of the place as a whole. It is sustainable and a great testament to the concept, the architecture and the huge effort of the volunteers whose labour put it all together.”
The building was designed by architects at Brightblue Studio and a Heritage Lottery Grant of £417,400 helped pay for the centre.
The public will be able to visit the centre for the first time tomorrow, when the reserve reopens.