Saturday, 7 March 2015

£7.8 million grant for Northumberland heritage project

A UNIQUE opportunity to create a multi-million pound Northumberland tourist destination has been awarded a grant of £7.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Located at the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site in Northumberland National Park, the Sill will become the country’s first national landscape discovery centre, directing visitors to the places that might seem out of reach or difficult to find and engaging people from all walks of life in the natural and cultural heritage of the sweeping Northumberland landscape.

The all-weather, year-round centre – with a programme of interpretation, education, research, and events – will aim to attract more than 100,000 visitors a year.

Spearheaded by the Northumberland National Park Authority and YHA (England and Wales), the lead partners are celebrating the latest stage of this flagship project. They need to raise a further £2.2 million.

The Northumberland National Park has some of England’s darkest skies – having recently been awarded International Dark Sky Park status – plus clean rivers, ancient landscapes, rich culture and heritage, and stand-out scenery.

Ivor Crowther, head of HLF North East, said: ‘With the famous Hadrian’s Wall and much more besides on the doorstep, this new state-of-the-art discovery centre will become the perfect base from which to explore the national park’s unquestionable beauty. The Heritage Lottery Fund’s investment is also supporting a year-round programme of exhibitions and activities that will ensure that visitors are tempted back to Northumberland again and again, providing a much-needed boost to the local economy.’

Caroline White, chief executive of YHA added: ‘The announcement of funding from HLF is a huge step forward for the Sill. The HLF funding, together with that from other providers, has closed the funding gap significantly. It is immensely exciting that we are now within touching distance of transforming the current YHA site at Once Brewed, and creating a nationally significant landscape discovery centre which will ensure that young people can continue to enjoy exciting outdoor experiences in Northumberland National Park.’

The HLF grant will help to secure the future of the project, with construction expected to begin on the site later this year. The activity programme will start this autumn, and the landscape discovery building will open its doors to the public in June 2017.

For more information about the project, visit

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Picture Credit: Courtesy Jane Darbyshire and David Kendall

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