Today we celebrated the official opening of our new Welcome Centre with the Mayor of Poole, Councillor Tony Trent. The new building, located in the main car park, will act as a ‘front door’ to the country park and will connect visitors with the heritage of the landscape.
It will boast interactive and immersive displays which will bring the park’s history to life, provide a glimpse inside the Grade II* listed Upton House, and will explore the importance of the varied landscapes within the park.
The building features a bio-diverse living meadow roof, planted up with 34 species of wildflowers. Three bug hotels have been created and framed in the building’s walls alongside swallow nest cups and bat boxes to encourage even more nature into the park and around the centre.
New unisex toilet facilities, accessible toilets and baby changing facilities will also be available at the centre, which will officially open its doors to the public from 10am tomorrow, Saturday 17 December.
The centre was delivered as part of Upton Country House’s Discovery Project and has been supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery Community Fund, as part of its Parks for People programme.
Councillor Mark Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Place at BCP Council, said:
“The Discovery Project continues to deliver significant improvements across the Park, benefiting our visitors, volunteers, and local schools.
“The opening of the Upton Country Park Welcome Centre is a significant milestone for the Project that has been made possible by funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund, BCP Council and the Friends of Upton Country Park.
“Construction of the centre was delivered by Greendale Construction Ltd, and contents overseen by Imagemakers. Visitors will now be able to learn more about the history of the estate, alongside the wonderful range of events, activities and wildlife that the park continues to support today.”
Rob Hooker, Director, Greendale Construction, commented:
“We were delighted to be awarded this project as main contractors, and are equally delighted and proud to have delivered this iconic building for BCP Council and Upton Country Park. The new Welcome Centre creates a real wow factor for visitors, and provides brilliant information and facilities for the users of the park. We wish the team every success with the new building and can’t wait to see the wildflower meadow on the roof in full bloom this coming spring!”
Stuart McLeod, National Lottery Heritage Fund Director for London and South said:
“We are thrilled to celebrate the opening of the new Welcome Centre as part of the larger Discovery Project.
“This has been supported thanks to money raised by National Lottery players as part of the Parks for People programme. The grant has helped to improve the visitor facilities, restore the historical features and reinstate lost landscapes at Upton Country Park. With community at the heart of the restoration, this ambitious makeover ensures this Grade II* listed building, and its surrounds will be enjoyed by visitors and the local community for many years to come.”
The Welcome Centre will play host to the start of the Christmas Woodland Adventure trail, running from 17 December 22 until 01 January 2023. Visitors will also be able to shop from the new retail offer, perfect for last minute Christmas shopping. With a range of products, there is a treat to be had on any budget.
The Mayor & Mayoress of Poole, Cllr Tony & Mrs Anne Trent, cut the ribbon, with many Upton Country Park supporters present including Cllr Mark Anderson (Portfolio Holder for Environment & Place, BCP Council), Chris Saunders, (Head of Operations, Bournemouth & Poole Tourism) and Mike Yeomans & John Baggs, President & Chair of The Friends of Upton Country Park.