Tourism chief praises ‘stupendous’ sculpture

MH Northumberlandia aerial shot
MH Northumberlandia aerial shot
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A COUNTY tourism chief has given the thumbs up to the world’s largest human landform sculpture as a huge draw for visitors.

Northumberland Tourism Chief Executive Giles Ingram visited the Northumberlandia landform near Blagdon last week as part of his work to monitor the project.

And after taking a tour of the huge feature he was confident that it will attract visitors from near and far.

“I’m blown away by the realisation of the Northumberlandia project,” he said.

“Seeing plans, models and photographs just doesn’t do it justice. Once you go up there, once you even start to approach it, you realise what an enormous creation it is – it is absolutely stupendous.

“From a tourism point of view, I’m certain people will be interested in it and intrigued by it from a distance, but until they come up and see it they’re not going to fully comprehend what it is because what else have we got to compare it with?

“It’s quite unlike anything else that anyone will have been on and I think it’s going to be one of those things that people are going to have to come and experience if they really want to understand it.”

Mr Ingram is a member of the Northumberlandia Advisory Panel, made up of representatives from the community, which has been involved with Banks, the Blagdon Estate and Northumberland County Council to monitor progress and agree the management plan for the sculpture and the surrounding park.

He added: “What’s going to be fascinating is seeing it through different seasons. In every different time of the year it’s going to appeal to people in different ways, from climbing up to the forehead when the wind’s blowing in winter to just strolling around it when the sun is shining.”

The landform has been designed by world-renowned artist Charles Jencks, with Banks Mining and the Blagdon Estate investing about £2.5million in the project.

It is being created from 1.5million tonnes of crushed and compacted stone, covered with clay and soil taken from the nearby Shotton surface mine operated by Banks.

At 400m long and 34m high, Northumberlandia boasts some impressive stats. It is seven times the size of the pitch at St James’ Park, taller than an eight-storey building and it takes 20 minutes to walk around its 1,162m long outer path.

The female figure will form the centrepiece of a 19-hectare public park and landscaping work, along with infrastructure, greening and other development work, is due to be completed later this year.

Banks Group spokeswoman Katie Perkin said: “There’s already a great deal of excitement building around the tourism, cultural, landscape and amenity benefits that Northumberlandia will bring to this part of the North East.

“The landform’s artistic merits will add to what is already a hugely-attractive regional offering for visitors and we’re confident that the economic benefits of the scheme will be quickly felt by businesses in the surrounding area.

“Bringing Northumberlandia to life has been a real labour of love for our Shotton team and the work that they have contributed to her creation makes the project’s community links even stronger.”

Further information about the project is available online at www.northumberlandia.com