AN extra £1million could be added to Northumberland’s economy after the Princess Royal cut the ribbon on the world’s biggest human landform.
Nicknamed the Goddess of the North, Northumberlandia was officially opened by Princess Anne near Blagdon on Monday, seven years after planning began.
The landform, designed by artist Charles Jencks, has been funded with a £3million investment by the Banks Group and the Blagdon Estate.
It is more than seven times the size of a football pitch and taller than an eight-storey building at its highest point, and created from 1.5million tonnes of stone, clay and soil extracted from the adjacent Shotton surface mine, it promises to leave a legacy for miners, as well as provide a welcome boost to the area’s economy.
Banks Communications Manager Katie Perkin said: “We are very optimistic that Northumberlandia is going to be very popular not just with local people, but people from far and wide.
“It has been estimated that 200,000 people will come to Northumberlandia every year and come and spend their money in the surrounding businesses, which could mean an extra £1million being spent in the local area.
“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 realised.
“Northumberlandia was designed to provide a lasting legacy for the area, part of which will be through the increased number of visitors that the landform brings to both the local area and the wider North East, and the additional tourism revenues that this will undoubtedly bring to our region.”
Northumberlandia is designed to provide an iconic gateway feature to the county, offering views from various locations around its three-quarter mile-long outer path.
On opening the site, the Princess Royal said: “It is unique in the sense that it is a growing sculpture and it will continue to change and grow.
“I hope many more generations will appreciate her and the fact that she is so unique. She is something that everyone can take pride in for a very long time to come.
“She is something which can really add to the value of your lives in this part of the world.”
Mr Jencks said: “I am delighted that the Princess has opened Northumberlandia, what could be better than to have a woman open this landform?
“She is an open cathedral, and I hope people will be picnicking and misbehaving on her.
“Being given a wonderful site provided a rare opportunity to create a unique landscape, one that relates to the distant Cheviot hills and signposts many art-works in the vicinity.
“Northumberlandia is a landmark, especially for Cramlington, and an excellent example of how business, in the right situation, can provide communal art at no expense to the public.
“We’ve created a landscape and public amenity that will be explored and enjoyed in different ways — as a group of undulating pathways and waterways to contemplate in quiet settings, as a place for the family to picnic on a warm day, and as a journey of discovery with several hidden meanings that will change as the site grows and evolves.”
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.
Northumberlandia will initially be open to the public between noon and 4pm on Saturday. Information on subsequent opening times is available at www.northumberlandia.com