Northumberland nature reserve set for double boost

Hauxley nature reserve at Druridge Bay is in line for extra land and a visitor centre

Computer generated image of the proposed Hauxley Nature Reserve visitor centre
Computer generated image of the proposed Hauxley Nature Reserve visitor centre

For many years coal was king along a stretch of the Northumberland coast.

The Hauxley area near Amble was exploited by a series of coal mining shafts and finally by opencasting.

Now nature rules the roost after the Hauxley site was given to Northumberland Wildlife Trust in 1986.

And what is now a key nature reserve on Druridge Bay is in line for a double boost which will increase its value for both wildlife and the 12,000 visitors it attracts per year.

The trust launched a £75,000 appeal to buy land adjoining the reserve,

The latest donation to the appeal - £4,000 from the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust - has now taken the total to £89,000.

The charitable trust was founded in 1972 by Dame Bridget Cicely D’Oyly Carte to support causes in the arts, medical welfare and the environment.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust is now buying 12 acres of farmland adjacent to its Hauxley reserve, which will mean that a circular walk will be available around the site for the first time.

On the latest donation, Alex Lister, Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Druridge Bay estates officer said: “The birds were singing this morning and the question is whether it was because of the mild winter so far or because they knew we have received a cash boost from an organisation associated so closely with one of the most famous opera companies in the world.”

Meanwhile, a planning application for a new visitor centre at the Hauxley reserve has been submitted to Northumberland County Council by architects Brightblue Studio, based at North Shields Fish Quay.

The trust launched a separate funding appeal after the original visitor centre was destroyed by arson in 2010.

The preparation of the planning bid has revealed the extent of the transformation of the site from mining to creating a wildlife expanse.

The last mining at Hauxley was the Radcliffe opencast site, which was restored to create the reserve’s lake and islands. This was the latest in several coaling operations in the coastal area near Amble.

In 1783 there was a colliery at Amble Point. A shaft was sunk in the early 1800s in Hauxley township and named Radcliffe.

It closed in 1892 after flooding and a fire. Togston pit opened later with a line connecting it to Radcliffe..

Another shaft, called Newburgh, was sunk in 1900, a mile from the original pit at Radcliffe,

At that time, the pits, the railways between Broomhill where another mine existed and coal staithes were taken under new ownership and the entire business renamed Broomhill Collieries.

A 1920s shaft at Hauxley survived until the late 1960s while a drift mine sunk at Radcliffe closed in 1962. To make way for opencasting at Radcliffe, rows of miners’ houses were demolished in 1971.

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