The concept for Northumberlandia - a unique piece of landscape art, set in a 19 hectare park - came in 2004 when Blagdon Estate and Banks Group began mining coal and fire clay on farmland near Cramlington. Both recognised the opportunity to create a unique place for the community to enjoy for generations to come, and dedicated 19 hectares for this restoration first project.
Internationally-renowned artist Charles Jencks designed the massive landform sculpture and in 2010 work began.
National land management charity the Land Trust was granted a 99-year lease, allowing it to set a long-term, sustainable strategic plan with the financial security of an invested endowment. Northumberland Wildlife Trust would become the managing partner, providing day-to-day management through park rangers and volunteers.
Northumberlandia opened in September 2012, followed by the visitor centre in March 2014. The site has become an asset to the region, with around 100,000 visitors annually.
Partnership working has been at the heart of Northumberlandia since conception. The drive from Blagdon Estate and Banks Group to provide for their community became reality with the land management experience and charitable objectives of the Land Trust, and put into practice every day by Northumberland Wildlife Trust.
All partners are committed to enhancing the site and to managing the park in a sustainable way whilst delivering educational benefits, encouraging local volunteering and community events.
Over the past few years, additional partnerships have been created with local organisations, further strengthening the community bond with Northumberlandia, bringing more opportunities for events and activities, and supporting the local economy.
Footprints on the Moon, a not-for-profit organisation that delivers outdoor activities, regularly uses Northumberlandia for its events, and several arts performances have taken place, including a bicycle-based Much Ado About Nothing. The local library, Cramlington WI and other community groups also make the most of this natural space.
The Land Trust and Northumberland Wildlife Trust work hard to forge partnerships and links with other charities, helping to support Northumberlandia through things such as tree planting and wildlife monitoring.
Funding partnerships are also developing, with schemes such as Tesco Bags of Help supporting additional activities and enhancements,
Established out of a private-third sector partnership, enhanced through on-going partnership working, and growing still by engaging and inspiring more people and community groups to come on board, Northumberlandia is an excellent example of how long-term strategy, secure funding and passion can be brought together to help the environment, people and society.