Country park reaches landmark milestone

The special guests and visitors at the Bolam Lake 200th anniversary event.
The special guests and visitors at the Bolam Lake 200th anniversary event.

Bolam Lake was filled with anniversary celebrations as park goers celebrated 200 years of the popular country park.

Guest of honour Lord Decies, the seventh Baron Decies and a descendent of Rev John Beresford who originally commissioned John Dobson to create the park in 1816, travelled from Ireland to be a part of the event.

Those who attended gathered for a short story by storyteller Jim Grant and music was provided by three Northumbrian pipers and 2344 Air Cadet Squadron.

As a special thank-you for their contributions to the park, Lord Decies and Chris Mullin, chairman of the North East Committee at Heritage Lottery Fund, were each presented with a yew wood bowl, which were produced from timber extracted from Bolam Lake Country Park as part of the on-going woodland management.

Special guests also planted the first of 200 new trees to mark the event.

Coun Kath Nisbet, deputy civic head at Northumberland County Council, said: “Bolam Lake is a popular country park in Northumberland and it’s clear why it is enjoyed by thousands every year.

“This 200th anniversary is such a huge milestone and it was lovely to see special guests who have all played a part in creating and maintaining Bolam Lake come together to celebrate.

“I hope visitors can enjoy another 200 years of making memories at Bolam Lake.”

During the event, past and present photographs and memories were displayed and Lady Decies judged a coat of arms competition held by Belsay First School. Five winners were chosen from children aged between five and nine.

The special guests included the Heritage Lottery Fund, Woodhorn Archives, Northumbria Gardens Trust, Historic England, local councillors and the Friends of Bolam Lake.

Earlier this year a grant of £55,000 was awarded to the county council by the Heritage Lottery Fund to help celebrate the 200th anniversary.

Bolam Lake Country Park is noted for its exceptionally rich flora and fauna, and red squirrels, roe deer, great spotted woodpeckers and nuthatches have been spotted in the area.

Control of access at the site was very rigid for many years in the 19th and 20th centuries, but gradually this situation changed. During the 1960s, Bolam Lake became a well-known beauty spot as the owners no longer discouraged people from entering their private land.

But, as the number of visitors became excessive in relation to a relatively small area, the site began to suffer and the owners decided to sell the site to the county council in 1972.

The Friends of Bolam Lake group is dedicated to promoting, protecting and preserving the site.

The county council is continuing the celebrations by collecting 200 memories of Bolam Lake and landscaping areas of the park to look like it would have 200 years ago.

To submit your memories, historic photographs or maps of the country park, call 01661 881234 or email bolam200memories@gmail.com