Park building gets new lease of life

The cafe at Tyne Riverside Country Park in Low Prudhoe is set to re-open after flood damage was repaired and the building refitted.  

The building, which was built in the 19th Century and has had a variety of uses, has been vacant since being damaged in the 2015 floods.  It has now been fully refurbished with a new kitchen, servery and furniture, and interpretive displays funded through the Land of Oak & Iron project.

Northumberland County Council has awarded the lease to operate the cafe and visitor centre to local company the St Camillus Group (SCG), who provide job coaching and education to young people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions.

SCG support young people to learn in live work environments, which are also commercial businesses with customers, and employment opportunities. They were also recently awarded a North East Equality Award for ‘Organisations Supporting People with Disabilities’ for the second consecutive year.

As a company overall, they employ 26 people with a disability or enduring mental health condition. The Riverside Café will be overseen by Holly Kelleher, Head of Learning and Business Development for St Camillus Group, who is also a Prudhoe resident and the parent of a young adult with autism.

The visitor centre will also be one of three heritage centres created by the Land of Oak & Iron project.  Hosted by Groundwork NE & Cumbria and supported by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Land of Oak & Iron project works to celebrate, conserve and enhance the natural, industrial and cultural heritage of a 177 km2 area surrounding the Derwent Valley including Consett, Rowlands Gill, Prudhoe and Whickham.

Following the successful launch of the Land of Oak & Iron’s first café in the heritage centre in Winlaton Mill - café shrub - which opened its doors earlier in September, the new Tyne Riverside Café is another exciting project for the team, a great opportunity for young disabled people in Tynedale, and a welcome addition to the Prudhoe visitor economy.

The new Tyne Riverside Café is due to open in the next four weeks and will provide training and employment opportunities to young disabled people in Tynedale.

John Rundle, Chair of the Board at the Land of Oak & Iron, said: “The Land of Oak & Iron is a vast area spanning several counties of the North East. It’s jam-packed with places to go, things to do and interesting things to see.

“The new heritage centres act as a gateway for people to explore all that the Land of Oak & Iron has to offer. From splodging in muddy puddles, to digging up the earth and getting your hands dirty, to long walks and fun bike rides while taking in the scenery around you, our visitor centres are the perfect way to wind down with a cuppa after a long day or fuel up with a bite to eat when exploring the Land of Oak & Iron.”

Prudhoe North County Councillor Ken Stow said: “Prudhoe is changing quickly for the better, with a real determination to improve the local tourism and leisure offer, and providing employment opportunities.”

Prudhoe South County Councillor Gordon Stewart added: “I am delighted that this much loved building situated in a beautiful part of the town is being brought back to life providing a much needed facility for locals and visitors alike.”

Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Environment and Local Services, said: “Across the county we’re working to improve the offer at our country parks, while maintaining what’s special about them in the first place.

“This is another example of one of our vacant buildings being brought back to life and we wish the new venture every success.”

Photo courtesy of Hexham Courant
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