Crowley’s Build Begins

Work has now begun on Crowley’s, the new Land of Oak & Iron flagship heritage centre being built at Winlaton Mill. Representatives from the local community and the partner organisations involved in the build, were on site last week for an official ground breaking ceremony, you can watch a short film here.

Crowley's Heritage Centre

The centre, which is expected to open in 2018, will be run as a social enterprise, reinvesting any profits back into its local activities. Once completed, it will offer a range of exhibitions and interactive sessions, a café and gift shop, alongside a business incubator space, providing local people with long-term employment opportunities and offering an outlet for regional food producers and businesses.

In addition to investment from Groundwork and its partner Gateshead Council, much of the funds for the £1.5M building project came from the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Further funding from the Rural Growth Network programme Strategic Economic Infrastructure Fund (SEIF), and other smaller organisations has supported the project to reach its total.

The design of the centre was chosen in consultation with the local community, with hundreds of people choosing Northumbria University Architecture student Matthew Glover’s waterwheel-inspired design concept. It pays homage to the centre’s namesake, Sir Ambrose Crowley, who established revolutionary water-powered iron works nearby in the late 17th Century.

Kate Culverhouse, Chief Executive at Groundwork NE & Cumbria said: “It is fantastic to finally break ground at Crowley’s Heritage Centre. It has been a long time in the making, with many parties involved in supporting us to achieve our ambition of leaving a last legacy for the Land of Oak & Iron project. I can’t thank our partners and local people enough for helping this dream to come true. The final design is amazing and I can’t wait to open the doors later next year.”

John Rundle, Chairman of the Land of Oak & Iron Board, said: “I am proud that Land of Oak & Iron is making bold steps towards supporting local people and our economy through a celebration of the area’s authentic heritage. It is important that Land of Oak & Iron creates long-term benefits for the area, which we are already doing by giving access and opportunity to experience the authentic, unprocessed and honest heritage, history, heroes and habitats of our area. Crowley’s Heritage Centre creates a central location, which will celebrate all of these things and much, much more.”

Cllr John McElroy, Gateshead Council Cabinet Member Environment and Transport, and Land of Oak & Iron Board Member, said: “This is a landmark day for this project, which, once completed, will be a great new attraction for local people, as well as drawing new visitors to the area and providing a welcome boost to the economy.”