Jurassic park history beneath our feet
OUR very own Jurassic Park is to receive some tender loving care, thanks to lottery funding of £89,600, which will spent on the site of the former ironstone quarry in Irchester Country Park to protect its geological and ecology diversity and to improve access and learning.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) cash will be used to create a new heritage trail linking with the Irchester Narrow Gauge Railway Museum in the 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 of the best geological features of the quarry face and floor.
Conservation work has also started, with college students 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 wildflowers and insects to thrive on sunny quarry banks.
The project is aiming to create a safe entry to the quarry floor for geological groups and schools for study purposes and some of the funding will go towards developing educational materials and equipment.
Cllr 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. 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 or to share memories and stories of the quarry workings.”
Vanessa Harbar, head of HLF East Midlands, added: “We’re delighted to support this project, which provides a great opportunity for people to learn about Northamptonshire’s geological and industrial past while also helping to protect the biodiversity of this popular country park.”
A series of events are being planned and details of these will be listed at: www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/parks and the park’s Facebook page. To get involved, contact project co-ordinator Angie Moore at Irchester Country Park: 01933 276866, or email: Irchester@northamptonshire.gov.uk
Pictured above – STEPS INTO THE PAST: These new steps form part of the heritage trail currently being built at Irchester Country Park thanks to the lottery grant. Wembley Pit was worked as an opencast quarry from 1872 to 1941 for its ironstone, as well as its limestone for flux. It is thought that some of the iron ore mined at the park was used to help build the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the London Underground. Quarrying ceased when the ironstone seam became too deep to be economically viable, leaving behind a spectacular quarry face and some of the best examples of exposed Middle Jurassic period rock strata in Eastern England.