Crawick Multiverse is looking ahead to a new era following the official opening of The Coalface – its specially designed eco-friendly visitor facilities.
The event (which was low-key due to COVID restrictions) involved Gillian Khosla, Chair of the Crawick Multiverse Trust (CMT), trust Patron the Duke of Buccleuch, and the Chair and Chief Executive of the South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) economic and community development agency.
Support from SOSE (and its predecessor SOSEP) has been essential to the Coalface project. This has seen the creation of a beautifully designed sustainable building featuring a small retail area and ticket office, accessible toilets and a small area for indoor activities. Additional funding was also secured to improve car parking, picnic area and site signage
Crawick Multiverse, a spectacular 55-acre land art installation, near Sanquhar, in Dumfries and Galloway, was the vision of artist Charles Jencks and saw the reclamation and transformation of a 55-acre former open cast mine on land owned by the Duke of Buccleuch. It was inspired by the artist’s ideas about space, astronomy and cosmology.
Ms Khosla said: “This is a pretty exciting moment for us. As COVID restrictions ease and people are looking for interesting and unusual places to visit, Crawick Multiverse can now offer them a really warm welcome.
“It opens up a whole host of other exciting opportunities for the future as we look to establish Crawick as a venue for outdoor events and activities as well as a leading Scottish visitor attraction.
“We were delighted to be able to welcome Duke Richard along with Jane Morrison-Ross and Professor Russel Griggs from SOSE for the official opening – without their support none of this would be possible.”
The Coalface was named to reflect the site’s mining heritage, but very much embraces its new identity, with locally based creative graphic designer, Kirsty Young of Carrot Top Design coming up with contemporary branding.
Designed and built by Sam Booth of Dumfries and Galloway sustainable building specialists Echo Living, the new visitor facilities make use of three repurposed containers clad with untreated larch, detailed in checkerboard allowing for shorter timber lengths (that reduce waste) and has a sedum covered roof. The office and retail space are lined in pale spruce.
Ms Morrison-Ross, SOSE CEO, said: “We are delighted to have supported the Crawick Multiverse with this project. We know how vital the tourism industry is to the South of Scotland, with 4.6 million annual visitors and a related spend of over £600m supporting around 12,000 jobs.
“With COVID restrictions beginning to ease, we hope that facilities such as the Crawick Multiverse will help encourage visitors to return to our wonderful area and help our tourism industry look forward to a brighter future.”
Prof. Griggs OBE, SOSE Chair, added: “SOSE’s new Operating Plan details how we wish to support communities and businesses to recover from COVID-19 and encourage and support them to develop sustainable projects, which the Crawick Multiverse certainly is.
“It is fantastic to see this attraction continue to develop with the opening of The Coalface as an eco-friendly facility which improves the experience for visitors and locals alike.”
The Coalface is the base of operations for CMT and with recently recruited local staff, a small team is available to help visitors and look after the site.
It will make it easier for Crawick Multiverse to run and host events and activities – something for which it is ideally suited as it has large areas of open space, including an amphitheatre.
The Duke, who is Patron of CMT, said: “Charles Jencks was a brilliant artist and also a visionary who believed that a space like the Multiverse could enrich the lives of local people and the economy of Upper Nithsdale in a way that is quite unique.
“I believe that over time this will become an international destination which is known worldwide. The opening of the Coalface is another step towards that goal.”
For visitors The Coalface is the place to buy tickets and refreshments, get information, visit the toilets, use the changing area, and get under cover if there’s a rain shower.
All the works on The Coalface were carried out by local businesses including Sam Templeton Building Contractor.
Other funders, supporters and partners in the project have included Dumfries and Galloway Council, Dumfries and Galloway LEADER Programme, Scottish Enterprise, The Scottish Government and Whiteside Hill Windfarm (Scotland) Ltd.
Rob Davidson, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy and Environment Committee said: “Our council was very pleased to be able to support the funding bid for Crawick Multiverse and the subsequent management of the grant from the Scottish Government. The addition of this new venue will build on the appeal of this unique attraction and provide yet another reason for visitors to come to our beautiful region.”
Commenting on the project, Sam Booth said: “Echo has very much enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with Crawick Multiverse Trust in the design and build of an affordable, sustainable building. Small in size but with a big heart, we hope the new hub offers a wealth of new opportunities for visitors to this amazing site.”
For further information, opening times and prices visit the website https://www.crawickmultiverse.co.uk.
Pictures: Colin Hattersley