The gates to the new Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre will officially swing open on Saturday, 14 December to welcome the first of many visitors.
Members of the public will, for the first time, be able to explore the brand new centre and enjoy the interactive exhibition display and wildlife garden when the Mayor of Bournemouth, Councillor Rod Cooper officially opens the gates at 10am.
Construction work has been taking place over the last year at the thatched barn adjacent to the Iron Age Double Dykes. Part of the work involved an eco-build extension to the existing barn cottage which boasts a range of eco-friendly features including a green roof, solar panels and straw bale walls.
The new centre will offer a variety of information and activities including an exhibition area, displays, video presentations, easy access for all abilities and ages, a retail outlet and toilet facilties.
For the first time, the new centre will give the public the opportunity to see and handle some of the archaeological collections unearthed at Hengistbury Head over the past 100 years. The centre will also allow visitors to interact with knowledgeable staff and become involved as Heritage Volunteers in the running of the centre and the nature reserve.
Councillor Lawrence Williams, cabinet member for Tourism, Leisure and Culture, said: “I am delighted to see the completion of the new Hengistbury Head centre and we look forward to welcoming visitors to come and explore the new centre which promises to be a fantastic resource for the area. Hengistbury Head attracts more than one million visitors every year and for the first time, we will have a unique and dedicated visitor centre where members of the public will be able to come and learn about the area’s rich heritage, including the wildlife, geology and archaeology that can be found here.”
The centre has cost approximately £1 million, with £300,000 from developer contributions, £432,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund with the remaining £300,000 from the Landfill Communities Fund via Canford Environmental Ltd.
The centre will be open from 14 December until 5 January 2014 before closing to complete the fit-out of the shop and further training for volunteers. It will then fully open on 1 February. A special launch event is planned for the spring.