The Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Cox QC MP Officially opens the New Northam Burrows Visitor Centre at Westward Ho!

 

An invited gathering of people met on Friday to take part in the official opening of the new Northam Burrows Visitor Centre, located just a stone’s throw from the award winning Blue Flag beach at Westward Ho! in Torridge. Clad in larch wood the multiple wings of the centre have been designed to nestle discreetly into the surrounding dunes with a Café offering far reaching views to Lundy Island from the raised outdoor seating areas, and glass fronted interiors. The venue is already becoming a focal point within the 254-hectare park and replaces a much older building, which had undergone little change, since its original installation in 1984.

The Centre has been funded by £1.2M from the Governments Coastal Communities Fund and £400K from the Getting Building fund with Torridge Officers providing the project management element of the build. The bids for funding were facilitated and supported by Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Council’s Economic partners, North Devon+. Like many local businesses and projects, the work programme has had to tiptoe around pandemic restrictions and shortages of cement and other materials but has been a great example of collaboration in difficult times between funders, architects, engineers and builders.

The Pebble Ridge Kitchen Café run by the owners of the Royal George in Appledore have already settled into their new home, serving up local produce and refreshments. The wider facilities also boast an exhibition centre with mini-aquarium and displays of local wildlife, historic landscapes, and innovative interactive digital sections with a hands on approach for children to tap into. A new and much needed accessible changing places facility for people with disabilities has also been provided as part of a new services block. Office and meeting room accommodation for the rangers and partner organisations are now airy, bright and better insulated against the Atlantic weather this part of the coast sometimes experiences. At the same time materials have been reused where possible or upgraded to better insulation properties to add to the overarching green environmental approach adopted for the project, with an estimated saving of 3.6 tons of carbon per year.

Westward Ho! Ward member and Northam Deputy Mayor, Councillor Nick Laws, opened the speeches thanking everyone for attending and for their collaboration in bringing the plans to life. He was followed by Stuart Brocklehurst non-executive director from the LEP and finally local MP Sir Geoffrey Cox who unveiled a plaque to commemorate the occasion. The plaque was revealed by drawing back a collage of discarded fishing net and plastic items that regularly wash up on the beach at Westward Ho! and elsewhere along the coasts around the UK. It allowed Sir Geoffrey to touch on the ecological challenges all coastal areas face and which the rangers hope to highlight through their educational programmes for children and installations in the exhibition spaces.

As well as the headline speakers the guest list included Councillors and Mayors from Torridge, Bideford, Gt Torrington, and Northam and also guests from partner organisations such as the AONB, and North Devon Biosphere. The partners will probably soon be making good use of the meeting rooms and offices for future events and activities. Architects and contractors, including many local firms were also represented at the event.

The Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Cox QC MP said:

“I am delighted to be here today to open this superb new Visitor Centre and to applaud all the hard work that has gone into its creation. I have special memories of the area in my youth having swum off the beach at Westward Ho! in the 1960s, and these buildings will be a wonderful enhancement of the experience of the Burrows for locals and tourists alike. I also hope and believe that the £1.6 million invested from the Government’s regional investment funds could, and should, be the start of something much bigger in Torridge where we see even more investment in our area. I will be doing everything in my power to make sure Torridge has the right support for its future aspirations, such as our Levelling Up Fund bid for Isaac’s Yard in Bideford, and the regeneration of other sites throughout the district.”

Karl Tucker – Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership said:

“It’s great to see the new Northam Burrows Visitor Centre officially open, which will provide a fantastic facility for the area and hopefully encourage more people to visit and spend time enjoying the surrounding area. We are delighted to have been able to support the project with £400k from the HotSW LEP’s Getting Building Fund. This redevelopment provides a dynamic, hands-on space for the local community, schools and tourists and supports the centre to more effectively explore current issues such as climate change and coastal erosion.”

Torridge District Councillor Nick Laws – Ward Member for Westward Ho! and Deputy Mayor of Northam said:

“My family connection to the Burrows goes back to the 1970’s when my father-in-law became the first Northam Burrows ranger for the area. Something must have rubbed off as the current generations of our family are no less passionate about this fantastic resort and rare wildlife and plants preserved and protected on the burrows. The facilities at the centre will help educate the next generations of visitors and also offer a more modern level of comfort and refreshment for locals and tourists alike. Staycationers are already re-discovering the beauty of Westward Ho! beach and the centre will be an important part of that offering and anchor for the local tourism industry.”

 




Spring Half-Term Fun on Northam Burrows – Scavenger Hunt and Poetry events for all ages

 

The half term holidays are nearly here and the Northam Burrows ranger team have put together a spring scavenger hunt, suitable for families and all ages to enjoy, when exploring the Burrows and the beach. A chance to find your favourite shell, a striped or spotty flower or even the loudest bird on the scavenger hunt check-list, as you roam around the park.

Look out for the posters on display at the entrance toll booths and downloadable versions on the Councils social media and web pages.

The Rangers have also been working with Northam Library on a fantastic family poetry trail led by the renowned and innovative creative writer Chris Jelley. You can have fun exploring Northam Burrows through a poet’s eyes, and read and write poems inspired by the local wildlife and landscape. You’ll also learn how to ‘pin’ them online to the location for all to read and enjoy.

The Poetry event will take place on Friday 4th June at 1pm and also 3pm but places are limited and so booking is essential. Tickets cost £5 per family (which includes entry for one car onto the Burrows) and can be bought from Northam library either in person, on the phone (01237 475111) or by emailing northam.library@librariesunlimited.co.uk

TDC Lead Member for Community, Culture and Leisure Councillor Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin said:

“The ranger team are looking forward to seeing as many people as possible throughout the spring and summer as we head outdoors for events every Tuesday and Thursday in the summer holidays. There will also be our usual mix of beach cleans and other volunteering activities. So keep a watch out for other postings or why not try out the new QR code trails already in place and learn some fascinating facts about the park and the local area. Hopefully, something for all ages to enjoy.”

 

Northam Burrows Country Park

Northam Burrows Country Park lies at the western edge of the Taw Torridge Estuary. Lying within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty the Burrows forms an integral part of North Devon's UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
 
Further information is available on Torridge District Council's Northam Burrows webpage, or contact Michael Day, the Burrows Ranger at:
The Burrows Centre
Sandymere Road
Northam
BIDEFORD
EX39 1XS
Tel:      01237 479708

Email:  northam.burrows@torridge.gov.uk

 

Click this link for a copy of Torridge District Council's Northam Burrows Leaflet.

 

Northam Burrows Country Park is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is about 253 hectares of grassy coastal plain with salt marsh, sand dunes and generally unimproved grasslands.


The Burrows  provides one of the access points for the two miles of Westward Ho! Beach, thus combining the best of opportunities for land and marine leisure activities. The main ramped access point to the beach is available from the town of Westward Ho!

The Park is open to pedestrians at all times but there are restrictions on vehicles. The Burrows Centre is open from the end of May to early September and the toilet facilities from Easter to the end of September.
 

The Burrows Centre is to be refurbished, and it is hoped it will be open for the late spring and summer season 2021.

A new trail to explore at Northam Burrows!

The team on Northam Burrows have introduced a new Covid safe trail to explore. This coincides with the wider project work bringing improvements to the visitor centre and other facilities on the Burrows. This includes the reopening of the footpath linking to Westward Ho! which was damaged by storms.

The audio trail consists of QR codes displayed on wooden posts and can be found along the South West Coast Path between the Burrows Centre and the Skern road. By scanning the QR codes with a smartphone, people will be able to access an audio clip all about that particular area of the Burrows as well as a map showing where to discover the rest of the trail. Visitors can learn fascinating facts about the local area and can visit as many or as few of the trail points as they like.

Northam Burrows is common land and home to many sheep, horses and wild birds and animals so we ask all visitors to keep their dogs under close control when visiting and to drop litter into bins provided or take it home with them.

Northam Burrows Country Park is open to vehicles from 7am to 10pm every day (toll charges apply). Although the visitor centre is currently undergoing building works, there are temporary toilet facilities in Sandymere car park and both Le Petit Café and Hockings ice cream vans can often be found on site.

 

New Roof for Northam Burrows Visitor Centre and Foundations Ready for Modular Café

The refurbishment of Northam Burrows Visitor centre has continued at pace during February as part of a 14-week refurbishment project being undertaken by Pearce Construction. Outwardly the most striking change has been the reinstatement of the roof which means that now the building is water-tight work to re-model the interior layout and fittings can be accelerated. The roofing material combined sheet metal with welted standing seams to improve the weathering and resist wind uplift in this coastal location. 

The new roof now includes a vaulted ceiling and skylights to let more light into the building while also increasing the amount of space for exhibitions and displays. An upgrade of the building’s electrics and heating systems will allow the building to be more energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and cheaper to operate. Interior walls have been moved as the new layout for the centre starts to take shape. 

In line with the re-use and recycle approach to the build the external wooden cladding to the building has also been removed and de-nailed ready for re-use or recycling. A lot of this natural material was in surprisingly good shape given its exposure to coastal weather and storms for almost 40 years.

Piling and the laying of foundations for the modular café and facilities blocks have also been completed. Offsite construction of these is well advanced and on track for delivery to the site soon when cranes will be used to lift the modules into position.

 

Click the image for the full Torridge District Council news article.

Café and Kitchen Units arrive at Northam Burrows – Work Progressing towards Summer Opening for New Visitor Centre

The Modular Café and Kitchen units have now been delivered and installed at the Northam Burrows Visitor Centre site as the final layout of the facilities starts to emerge. The units were pre-assembled off-site and were craned into position ready for final fitting out and connection to utilities. The exterior of the units will now be clad in timber in the coming weeks as part of the design aimed at reducing the visual impact of the structures and blending them with the natural surroundings. The glass frontages and outdoor seating will both contribute to a unique spot to stop for a rest and refreshments for visitors to the area.