£14.8m centre boosts rural economy

A multi-million pound state-of-the art visitor centre is set to boost the rural economy in north-east England.

Northumberland National Park Authority has confirmed that its £14.8m visitor centre on Hadrian's Wall will officially open to the public this summer.

Known as The Sill, it is described as the UK's first National Landscape Discovery Centre.

The project is the result of a partnership between Northumberland National Park and the Youth Hostel Association, assisted with a £7.8m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The public opening is taking place on 29 July during National Parks' Week, an annual celebration of Britain's 15 National Parks with activities taking place up and down the country.

Northumberland National Park Authority chief executive Tony Gates said: ""We've worked extremely hard to bring this iconic and inspirational project to life.

"The Sill is the single most significant initiative to be undertaken in rural Northumberland in a generation and will transform how people engage with landscape, nature and the great outdoors.

"The Sill gives Northumberland and the rest of the UK a new world-class facility and visitor experience in the heart of Hadrian's Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"It's the perfect gateway for people of all ages to explore and enjoy the landscapes, history and rich culture of Northumberland and the wider region."

Exhibitions at The Sill will focus on landscape, culture and heritage, several learning and event spaces, with a 90-seater café showcasing local produce.

It includes a youth hostel, rural business hub to support new enterprises, a shop selling local products and a tourist information service/

When construction began in November 2015, a special Sill Activity programme was launched to engage people of all ages throughout the region in the project.

To date, there have been over 400 Sill-related events providing a range of educational and volunteering opportunities connected to the landscape and heritage of the Park.

Heritage Lottery Fund north-east leader Ivor Crowther said: "The Sill is set to become a world-class gateway to Northumberland's incredible heritage and unquestionable beauty.

"We look forward to the opening and the beginning of an exciting future for Northumberland's heritage, landscapes and local economy."

Youth Hostel Association chief executive Caroline White said the new hostel was possibly one of the most significant hostels in the association's portfolio.

"Our partnership approach with Northumberland National Park Authority has enabled us to create affordable, state-of-the-art, contemporary accommodation," she said.

The hostel would make both Northumberland and Hadrian's Wall accessible to many more school groups, young people and their families.


Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.