LOI Heritage
Ian Brown, John Rundle and Mayor Jill Green.
Rebecca Wayman

£1.5m visitor centre and cafe opens in Gateshead

A new £1.5m visitor attraction in the Derwent Valley has sparked the opening of café shrub, a new cafe in Winlaton Mill, Gateshead.

The Heritage Centre, along with café shrub, is to be a community hub as well as a tourist attraction in the Derwent Valley. It was opened by Ian Brown, chair of Groundwork, Jill Green, Mayor of Gateshead and John Rundle from Land of Oak & Iron.

Located in Winlaton Mill, in Ambrose Crowley’s industrial empire, and both the Heritage Centre and café shrub are accessible via the Derwent Walk, Red Kite Trail and the Coast to Coast Cycle way, as well as the main traffic route through the Derwent Valley.

John Rundle, chair of Land of Oak & Iron, said: “We are very proud of our new Heritage Centre in the Land of Oak & Iron.

“The new building will bring the history and heritage of the Land of Oak & Iron to life, create a vibrant hub for the local community as well as people passing by, as well as provide an exciting new venture for visitors to enjoy - it’s about sustainability.”

café shrub specialises in offering local produce in both the café and gift shop, and also offers a seasonal menu sourced from local suppliers where possible.

With money raised by National Lottery players, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is supporting the project with a £697,700 grant.

Ivor Crowther, head of HLF North East, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, we’re delighted to support this project to celebrate the incredible story of the Derwent Valley, conserve its heritage and create a skilled partnership between organisations and the local community to ensure a bright future for this historic landscape.

“The opening of the visitor centre is a very exciting milestone for the project and is set to attract more visitors to share in the area’s heritage.”

The building concept was designed by Matthew Glover, an architecture student at Northumbria University, to represent a water wheel like those which powered the largest ironworks in Europe, in a nod to the heritage that has since shaped the land.

Gateshead Council’s design team and Groundwork transformed Matthew’s concept into a workable design to bring to life.

Land of Oak & Iron, the Heritage Centre and café shrub is hosted by Groundwork NE & Cumbria and supported by National Lottery players through HLF.

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