£1.5 million visitor centre and cafe opens at Gedling Country Park

Video: The £1.5 million development opened today.

A £1.5 million visitor centre has opened at a former Nottingham pit site which has been transformed into a country park.

The attraction at Gedling Country Park opened today (June 12) and features a cafe and children’s play area.

Café 1899, named after the year the former colliery opened, will serve hot and cold drinks and food – it is also a fully licensed bar.

And plans are also in place to develop a heritage site in another building close by to commemorate the history of the colliery.

Leader of Gedling Borough Council, John Clarke, said the site is “the answer to a vision and a dream”.

He said: “It’s not easy to build on an old pit site and I’m extremely pleased this has opened today. It’s another part of a long-term plan to make this totally family-usable for all aspects of family life.

“We want it to be open as long as it can and we want to take the money [raised] by this to put it back in the park and build next door.”

The centre was opened by Cllr Clarke and deputy leader of the council Michael Payne.

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Gedling Country Park is on the site of the former Gedling Colliery.

Cllr Payne said the development is “huge step forward” for local residents and hopes it will attract more visitors.

He added: “We really hope that lots of people will come and visit – it’s a beautiful green lung among the hustle and bustle of the city.

“And we should remember all of those colliers who lost their lives in what was an incredibly busy pit and an important part of Nottingham’s industry and indeed the country’s industry as well.”

Notts TV revealed building work for the £120,000 children’s play area started last July.

Gedling Colliery closed on Monday, November 7, 1991 and stood derelict for more than 20 years.

But Gedling Borough Council has since invested £1.6 million to turn the site into a country park.

The heritage site, which is hoped to be built in the next two years, will feature a gallery for local artists and be used as a space for teaching and conferences.

Terry Lock, of the Friends of Gedling Country Park volunteer group, said the visitor centre is a “fantastic addition to what is already a fantastic park”.

The new café in the building.

He said: “I’m pleased because the contractors have done it with minimal disturbance to the users.

“The education, environment and the future are also important to us.  This park isn’t for people of my age necessarily, it’s for the children and the babies we see out there in 30, 40, 50 years’ time.”

The building, which took 35 weeks to build, cost £1.5 million; and it will be managed by Nottingham City Council.

The site was built by contractors G F Tomlinson and plans were drawn up by Allan Joyce Architects.

Tim Harrison, of Allan Joyce Architects, said: “We’re very pleased with it. It’s been a bit of a struggle at times, it’s been a very tight programme.

“We started looking at it just over a year ago and to go from absolutely nothing, a blank piece of paper, to a finished building in just over a year is absolutely incredible.”

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