Northumberlandia receives royal approval
HRH The Princess Royal conducts official opening of Northumberland’s new artistic landform
THE world’s largest human landform received the royal seal approval last week when it was officially opened by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal.
Princess Anne came to north-east England to visit Northumberlandia, a unique reclining female figure which is the size of more than seven football pitches and taller than an eight-storey building at its highest point.
The event was hosted by Viscount Ridley, on whose Blagdon Estate, to the west of Cramlington in Northumberland, the landform resides, and Harry Banks, chairman and chief executive of the Banks Group.
Blagdon and Banks have jointly invested around £3 million in the creation of the artistic landform and its adjacent water bodies, which have taken Banks two and a half years to construct using 1.5 million tonnes of carefully selected stone, clay and soil extracted from their adjacent Shotton surface mine.
The artwork has been designed in line with Banks’ ‘restoration first’ approach, where extra land not needed for coal mining has been used to deliver a lasting positive legacy for both the local area and the wider region at an early stage in the development of the mine, rather than waiting until the end of operations.
Bob Downer, chief executive of Blagdon Estate, said: ‘We were extremely honoured to have been able to welcome The Princess Royal to Northumberlandia, and to have had her officially open this unique artwork which now graces the Northumberland countryside.
‘The Estate has always tried to play a proactive role in enhancing the local community in a wide range of ways, and the opportunities that this scheme will create will bring many benefits to local people in terms of leisure, nature conservation, tourism and public health.’
Katie Perkin, communications manager with the Banks Group, said: ‘This project was envisaged as an outstanding artistic landmark which would stand alongside the region’s other main tourist attractions, as well as providing high-quality leisure facilities for use by the local community and visitors to the area for many decades to come, and we are thrilled with the way in which it has been realized.’
Northumberlandia forms the centrepiece of a 47-acre public park being built on land donated by the Estate that will be managed by independent charity The Land Trust as an amenity for the local community and an attraction for visitors to the region.
Euan Hall, chief executive of the Land Trust, said: ‘Banks and Blagdon Estate have to be given a lot of credit for having the foresight to create such a fantastic legacy for the local area.’