Devastating fire at Hauxley Nature Reserve

Posted on 23rd July 2010 | in Community

Devastating fire at Hauxley Nature Reserve

Wardens at Hauxley Nature Reserve said they were “devastated” on seeing the destruction of the reception hide after a fire broke out.

The fire brigade attended the scene after midnight on Sunday 27th June, but were unable to save the wooden eco building which housed the office, toilets, kitchen facilities and provided a large space with magnificent views for birdwatchers.

Duncan Hutt, Head of Land Management for Northumberland Wildlife Trust who own the site told The Ambler: “It isn’t just the fact we lost the building, it’s all the volunteers’ effort and the history that’s gone in. You can’t replace the time and committment.”

Duncan Hutt and Brian King at the burned
out hide

The fire is believed to have started outside in one corner of the building. The office area was completely destroyed, and the rest of the inside has been severely fire damaged.

“We strongly suspect arson, but we can’t say for sure until our investigation has taken place” said Duncan.

Duncan Hutt at the suspected scene of the outbreak Yvonne Townshend
Surveying the damage Yvonne Townshend films the damage inside

Yvonne Townshend Marsh Harrier Warden at nearby Chevington, said “It’s devastating. People come here from all over the country, not just to see the birds, but for a chat and a cup of tea.”

Warden Brian King agreed. “We get people from all over the country, We had 15,000 visitors last year. The reception hide is also used by community groups such as the Northumberland Astronomical Society. Childrens’ groups come up and use the building.”

fire damaged debris at the nature reserve burned out sign
fire damaged debris at the nature reserve burned out sign

The reception hide was built in the summer of 2002 to replace an old wooden building. The hide boasted environmentally friendly features such as a grass roof and a ground source heat pumping system – which uses heat stored in the ground to heat water and the building in the winter. At the time, Northumberland Wildlife Trust believed it to be the first such system in use in Northumberland.

Hauxley Nature Reserve is popular with birdwatching groups throughout the UK, Europe and beyond. In recent years, visitors have come from Norway, Denmark, Pakistan, Australia and America to see the abundant bird and wildlife. Hauxley is also home to butterfies, dragonflies and wildflowers including orchids.

Anna Williams

Update:30th June:

Appeal to be launched

Plans to enhance the now ruined reception hide will have to be rethought, revealed Steve Scoffin, Druridge Bay Development Manager for Northumberland Wildlife Trust.

Commenting on the fire, Steve said “Obviously this is very sad news, especially as there were plans to develop the building with increased interpretation and creation of a training room for ‘Coal and Coast’ activities in the northern end of Druridge Bay.

“Northumberland Wildlife Trust will be looking to raise money through an appeal, which together with any insurance claim and funding through the ‘Coal and Coast’ and other projects, will enable a new building to be designed and built which will meet the objectives of the projects and act as a showcase for the Bay.  While this is a sad day, we should also see this as an opportunity to be both innovative and imaginative in what can be achieved.”

Send your Twitter responses to @AnnaAtTheAmbler

@claireshiels: Think it’s disgusting & security needs to be addressed by local council

@annietrev: Appalling for Hauxley. Is there anything we can do to help? Fundraising needed? Manpower to rebuild?



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