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Eco-friendly build for £1 million Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre

By mbarber  |  Posted: January 03, 2013

  • The Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre

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A GREEN roof, solar panels and straw bale walls are just some of the eco- friendly features of the new Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre.

Work is underway to create the brand new Centre at the Bournemouth nature reserve, ready to open up to the public in time for this summer.

Construction is currently taking place at the thatched barn adjacent to the Iron Age Double Dykes. Part of the work involves the creation of an extension to the existing Barn Cottage. The extension will have the following green energy features:


  • Green roof – a natural turf roof planted with grasses to blend in with the natural surroundings. The roof will absorb rainfall and will provide good insulation.
  • Solar Panels – 16 photo-voltaic panels to generate electricity saving approximately £1,000 a year in energy bills.
  • Modcell walls – timber framed walls combined with straw bales to produce a thick insulating 'cocoon'.
    Once open the new centre will offer:
    •     An exhibition area for archaeology, ecology and geology celebrating 14,000 years of Bournemouth's prehistory from the Stone Age through to the present day
    •     A dedicated space for learning and community use
    •     Landscaping to create outdoor learning areas and wildlife garden in the current grounds (bird ringing/ pond studies etc.
    •     Easy access for all abilities and ages to information and activities
    •     Work space for centre staff, volunteers and other community groups such as the Hengistbury Head Supporters Group, Hengistbury Residents' Association and Christchurch Harbour Ornithological Group
    •     A retail outlet similar to a National Trust Shop
    •     Toilet facilities.


For the first time, the new centre will give the public the opportunity to see and handle some of the archaeological collections unearthed at Hengistbury Head over the past 100 years. The centre will also allow visitors to interact with knowledgeable staff and become involved as Heritage Volunteers in the running of the centre and the nature reserve.


The centre has cost approximately £1 million, with £300,000 from developer contributions, £432,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund with the remaining £300,000 from the Landfill Communities Fund via Canford Environmental Ltd.


Councillor Rod Cooper, Cabinet Member for Tourism, Leisure and Culture, said: "The eco-friendly element to this building is vitally important to ensure that it not only blends in with the beautiful natural surroundings but that it is also energy efficient and has minimum impact on the environment.  This is a really exciting project for the area and I am delighted to see the new centre taking shape. More than one million people visit Hengistbury Head every year and the centre will provide a unique and dedicated visitor centre where people can come and learn about the area's rich heritage, including the wildlife, geology and archaeology that can be found here."


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