Northumberlandia, the Lady of the North is on the way to becoming as big a North East icon

PUBLISHED: 17:00 15 April 2013 | UPDATED: 19:51 11 June 2013

NEL Apr Northumberlandia

NEL Apr Northumberlandia

Graeme Peacock

She’s a quarter of a mile long, 100 feet high and is on the way to becoming as big a North East icon as the Angel of the North. Northumberlandia, the Lady of the North, has transformed the site of a former open cast mine into one of the region’s largest new tourist attractions.

The park opened ahead of schedule last October and has attracted an average of 10,000 people a month since then, in spite of sub-zero temperatures and heavy rain. Among the regular visitors is photographer Graeme Peacock who has captured the figures rolling curves and undulations in every weather.

The stunning pictures on these pages are just some of the shots he has taken around the 46 acre site beside the Shotton coal mine near Cramlington.

Northumberlandia is a unique artwork and public space which was created on land donated by the Blagdon Estate and the 3m project was funded by the estate and the Banks Group who run the mine. The site is now managed by the Land Trust and their spokesman Michael Parr said:

Its quite common for restoration projects to be carried out when mining has been completed but here it was decided that there was an opportunity to do something a bit more to benefit the area and the community.

It is on a tremendous scale. From the air it looks quite obviously like a female form but when youre on the ground it mimics the Cheviot hills. It has deliberately natural appearance. We dont want it to be a Disney-type highly manufactured attraction, we want it to grow like a living landscape. It will be kept aesthetically pleasing but not overly manicured. That helps to create a variety of habitats too and improve the sites biodiversity.

The figure was designed by renowned artist Charles Bancks and was made with one and a half million tonnes of rock, clay and soil taken from the mine, and four miles of footpath now trail across her body. Planning applications have been submitted for a visitor centre and caf at the site, which could be open next year.

Michael added: A lot of tourists pass that area around Cramlington on the A1 and there was an opportunity to provide something for the local people which went beyond the usual restoration.

We want to keep it fresh and keep people interested. At heart its a functional open space, people can walk, run, walk the dog, have fun with the children, and its also a spectacular artform.

We believe it could have more potential than the Angel of the North, with that you can view it and stand next to it, but with this you can interact with it and get anything you like from it and it has already been incredibly popular.

Its a learning experience for us, because it is such a new and unique site we dont know what the visitor numbers will be in the spring and summer. We knew how good it was and its encouraging that so many people have visited already.

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