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The Visitor Centre on Stanpit Marsh Nature Reserve


The construction of a Visitor Centre onStanpit Marsh Local Nature Reserve was completed in 2008. It replaced thedilapidated information caravan made from half a mobile home which was boughtfor just £60 a quarter of a century earlier.
The environmentally conscious circular timberframed building designed by White Design Architects was built by constructionfirm Baron G Levine. The building is designed to be completely self sufficientand features locally sourced chestnut cladding, recycled newspaper insulation,a wind turbine, solar panels, rainwater harvester and compost loo.
The Visitor Centre serves Stanpit Marsh, adesignated Local Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest. Themarshes are important for a range of internationally, nationally and regionallyrare wildlife, and are a popular place for local people to walk. It is estimatedthat the reserve receives over 100,000 visitors a year.  It is for these reasons that Christchurch Counciland the Friends of Stanpit Marsh (FOSM) set about raising the funds needed forthe centre. The Council financed most of the project but a significant amountwas also raised through an enthusiastic fund-raising campaign organised by theFriends.  The centre is an acknowledgmentof the importance of the Marsh and will help to raise greater awareness andunderstanding of the ecological value of this very special place.
The environmentally friendly building is a welcomeaddition to the Marsh. It provides information and displays about the wildlifeand assists countryside staff, volunteer wardens and all the friends of the Marshin their efforts to look after the nature reserve.

The Visitor Centre Display

The Friends have been very involved over the years, in the production of the displays in the previous centre.

The new Visitor Centre displays, furniture & facilities, such as automatons, were formally declared 'open', at a ceremony, during the FOSM Christmas Coffee morning, on 15th December 2013.

The event was opened by the Mayor of Christchurch, Cllr John Lofts.Also in attendance were the Leader of Christchurch Council, Cllr Ray Nottage & the chairman of the Community Services Committee, Cllr Sally Derham-Wilkes, also members of the marsh volunteers as well as many FOSM members.Speeches were given by Peter Holloway, the Senior Countryside Officer, Mark Merritt, Chairman of FOSM & the Mayor, Cllr Lofts.

Thanks were given to many people who contributed to the creation & subsequent success of the reserve and its Visitor Centre.Special mention and bouquets were givento four FOSM members: Avril La Breche, Pam Higginson, Ann Blofield and Sheila Richards.

FOSM liaised with Christchurch Countryside Services regarding the content of the Shadow-box displays and furniture in the current Visitor Centre and contributed financially towards them.

A very large donation in memory of a founder member, has gone towards the new FOSM display area.

In May 2015, when the tour of Christchurch Library was over, The Time and Tide Project moved their display boards to the Visitor Centre at Stanpit Marsh. We hope the new home, for these interesting displays, will add to the interest and educational value of a visit to this award winning site.


The Visitor Centre building has received threeawards  -

2008  Best Sustainable Development at the Local Authority Building Control South West Region Building Excellence Awards.
  International Green Apple Award for the Built Environment and Architectural Heritage
   
2009 Chairman’s Award in the Best Coastal Town in South & South East in Bloom.
The judges said, “The new Visitor Centre at Stanpit Marsh is a credit to all involved with its planning and completion”.


Stanpit Marsh together with the Visitor Centre has received threeawards  -

2010  Certificate of Excellence from the South & South East in Bloom
   
2011 Silver Gilt in the Best Country Park category in the South & South East in Bloom (the Marsh being a highlight of the tour). The Friends of Stanpit Marsh were awarded a Certificate of Excellence.
2012 Gold Award in the South and South East Britain in Bloom as ‘Conservation area of the Year’

The Visitor Centre is open to the public mostdays, manned by the Marsh Warden and volunteers.
If you would like to volunteer, pleasecontactthe Countryside Services of Christchurch Borough Council.