A South Pennines project celebrated local and national success at the launch of a new community and educational facility.
The official launch of the Upland Discovery Room at the Brownhills Visitor Centre in Uppermill gave the Watershed Landscape project, managed by Pennine Prospects, the opportunity to celebrate the work completed at the centre as well as its national success. The project has recently scooped the prestigious UK Landscape Award and will now go forward to represent the UK in the European Landscape Awards 2013.
The new facility was officially opened by the Mayor of Oldham, Councillor Olwen Chadderton, on Monday, January 28. The event also included the presentation of the UK Landscape Award by Val Kirby, Chair of the independent judging panel of the UK Landscape Awards. And the celebrations were marked by the Watershed Landscape writer in residence, Andrew McMillan.
Val Kirby said the decision to award the project the UK Landscape Award had been an easy one. “We were quite prepared not to declare a winner if we’d thought there wasn’t a worthy recipient but in the end it was easy; the Watershed Landscape project was head and shoulders above all the other entrants and was voted the winner unanimously. We are very happy to put this project forward to represent the UK in Strasburg later this year.
“The project is good in every sense of the word. We were amazed by the breadth of its work from conservation with the twite and peat-land to arts projects involving everyone from children to retirees. All the people we spoke to have had so much fun working on this project,” she added.
The Brownhill Visitor Centre in Uppermill is a popular stopping point situated in the heart of Saddleworth on the banks of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal between Dobcross and Uppermill. Thanks to the partnership between the Watershed Landscape project and Oldham Council the venue now boasts an upland discovery room, which offers a venue combining the flexibility of a community and learning space as well as a place to tell the story of the South Pennine uplands and Oldham’s countryside. Refreshments are on offer at the recently opened Limekiln Cafe on the ground floor of the centre.
Pam Warhurst, Chair of Pennine Prospects, said she was delighted with the project. “The work at this visitor centre is just part of the wider Watershed Landscape project, which aims to introduce more people to this distinct landscape. Pennine Prospects continues to demonstrate its credentials as a successful partnership organisation that supports local authorities across the South Pennines.”
Robin Gray, Watershed Landscape project manager, said: “The upland discovery room combines modern technology with more traditional interpretation techniques such as education packs, models and information panels to help new and existing visitors understand the important local landscape and provide ideas on how to get out and about in Oldham and beyond.
“The centre is a hub for information for visitors on exploring the wider area and continues to provide advice, information and ideas for visitors. The new exhibition space takes people on a journey through the landscape and highlights the amazing heritage and biodiversity which is literally on the doorstep.”
The three year Watershed Landscape project has played a key role in protecting and enhancing the natural and historic features of the South Pennines and encouraging people to get involved with their landscape, through improved physical access and exciting activities and events, including an innovative arts programme.
The award winning Watershed Landscape project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the South Pennines LEADER programme, (the Rural Development Programme for England), which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union, and managed by Pennine Prospects. The project has also recently been voted the runner up in the National Lottery Awards, beating hundreds of projects from around the country to make it to the televised final broadcast last December.