Thanks to a grant of £89,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the site of the former ironstone quarry in Irchester Country Park will receive some much-needed attention to protect its geological and ecology diversity and to improve access and learning.
The funding will be used to create a new heritage trail linking with the Irchester Narrow Gauge Railway Museum in the Northamptonshire County Council park.
Moulton College students have already helped build steps on part of the trail and there are also plans to build a spectacular viewpoint platform looking out over some the best geological features of the quarry face and floor.
Conservation work has also started, with students from Moulton College and members of Leicester Literacy and Philosophical Society’s Geology Section, helping Park Rangers to clear scrub and brambles.
As well as revealing the route of the old railway that took iron ore from the Wembley Pit as it was known, this work will also help to let in the light and encourage the many wildflowers and insects that thrive on sunny quarry banks.
The project is aiming to create a safe entry to the quarry floor for local and countrywide geological groups and schools for study purposes and some of the funding will go towards developing educational materials and equipment.
Councillor Robin Brown, county council cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: “We are pleased to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund to help us create a new heritage trail to open up new learning and leisure opportunities in one of our most popular country parks.
“Volunteers will play a vital role in this project and we would love to hear from you if you wish to help out or get involved in any way, whether it is to wield a hammer or a spade, to share memories and stories of the quarry workings, or to contribute in any way you can.”
Vanessa Harbar, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “We’re delighted to support this project which provides a great opportunity for people to learn about Northamptonshire's geological and industrial past whilst also helping to protect the biodiversity of this popular country park.”
A series of events are being planned throughout 2015 and details of these will be listed at www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/parks and the park’s Facebook page.
People interested in getting involved can contact Angie Moore the project co-ordinator at Irchester Country Park 01933 276866 or email Irchester@northamptonshire.gov.uk for further information.