Hop to Betteshanger Park this Easter

The daffodils are blooming, the days are getting longer and the Easter bunny has been spotted bouncing through the woods. Spring truly starts to take hold at Betteshanger Park, near Deal, during April and there is a packed programme of family-friendly Easter holiday activities to celebrate the new season.

Spring on the Park’ is a new edition to the Betteshanger calendar for 2018. Taking place on Saturday, April 7th and Sunday, April 8th, the free to enter event will be packed with family friendly displays, interactive performances and activities.

The Essex Dog Display team, Britain’s premier dog display team, will be making their first visit to the Park. The talented dogs scale ramps, negotiate obstacles, face hoops of fire and apprehend ‘criminals’ in an action-packed display which is guaranteed to leave visitors spellbound.

The popular Sky Birds of Prey team and their magnificent birds return to Betteshanger for 2018. Visitors will have the chance to get up close, learn about the behaviour of a number of Birds of Prey and witness fantastic displays during flight. The award-winning Mike’s Donkeys also make a much-anticipated return. Bella, Charlie, Danny and Dermot, the loveable donkeys, will be making a trip to the coast and stopping at Betteshanger between 10am and 4pm each day.

In addition to the animal displays there will be fun stalls, crafts and local food and drink for visitors enjoy.

Keith Lee, Head of Programme, Betteshanger Park said: “We’re thrilled to be welcoming back the popular Sky Birds of Prey display team and Mike’s Donkeys plus we’re excited to showcase the enormously skilled Essex Dog Display team for the first time. We hope ‘Spring on the Park’ will become an annual fixture on the Betteshanger event calendar.”

Other events taking place during the Easter holiday are:

Easter Egg Hunt (Friday 30th March – Monday 2nd April)

Betteshanger’s popular Easter Egg Hunt is back for 2018. Visitors to the Park will need to help the Easter bunnies Bertie, Benny and Bella find their lost eggs. Follow a fun trail around the Park, collect the magic gems from each bunny and claim a chocolate reward.

£4 per egg hunter. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Pre-booking advised.

 Spring Trail (Saturday 30th March – Sunday 15th April)

Spring has sprung at Betteshanger, visitors can enjoy exploring the Park with a new seasonal trail. Follow the route and spot the hidden objects whilst also keeping an eye out for spring plants, bugs and flowers. Fun in all weathers and a great way to explore the outdoors. Welly boots advisable!

£2 per trail pack. Booking not required. Collect a trail pack from Cycle Hire.

 Wear ’em out Wednesday (adventure session) (Wednesday 4th April)

Entertaining the kids can be hard work, especially when they’re packed full of sugar after Easter. Let them burn off some excess energy and book them into Betteshanger’s school holiday club. ‘Adventure’ is the name of the game for the first session. Led by qualified instructors children will enjoy a full day of activities in the Park including geocaching, den and shelter building, archery and a led-nature walk.  The day promises to be full of excitement and exploration.

£30 per person. Price includes all equipment, unlimited squash and water.  Suitable for ages 8 – 14 years.

 Bird of Prey Experience (Saturday 7th – Sunday 8th April)

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a falconer? Get an insight into the beautiful world of falconry with a special hands-on workshop facilitated by the experienced Sky Bird of Prey display team. Enjoy spending time and flying different birds of prey in the beautiful countryside around Betteshanger.

£40 per person. Participants must be aged 8 or over. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Wear ’em out Wednesday (action session) (Wednesday 11th April)

The intensity is stepped up for the second week of Betteshanger’s school holiday club and ‘Action’ is the theme. Led by qualified instructors children will enjoy a full day of activities in the Park including cycling, MY/PT military-style obstacle course, NERF Tag and orienteering. The day will be action-packed, adrenaline-pumping and most likely pretty muddy!

£30 per person. Price includes all equipment plus unlimited squash and water. Suitable for ages 8 – 14 years.

Visit www.betteshanger-park.co.uk/easter for more information about Easter and school holiday activities and to book.


Betteshanger Cafe under new management

Visitors to Betteshanger Park, near Deal, will be able to enjoy a whole new range of food and drink at the onsite café which will be officially reopening under new management on Friday, February 9th.

Deal-based Lauren Mackenzie, business partner in local business Lillyroo’s, will be taking over the management and day-to-day operations of the busy café with the aim of offering high quality, healthy food and great service.

Having worked in the catering industry for the past eight years, Lauren brings a vast amount of experience to the new venture. She studied and trained locally at East Kent College, polished her skills at Buckingham Palace and has worked as a Pastry Chef.

Lauren joined family business Lillyroo’s, an eco-friendly café in a converted Volkswagen campervan, three years ago. The fully-licenced mobile café has been a huge success, serving artisan pastries, freshly ground coffees and fine teas at a range of events and private functions around Kent. Lillyroo’s become a regular and welcome feature at Betteshanger’s biggest events during 2017.

The experienced manager and her team will re-launch the Betteshanger Café with a new menu focusing on fresh and healthy food, using as many local suppliers and producers as possible. The offer will include a range of quality hot and cold meals, snacks, homemade cakes, finest tea (including teapigs), locally roasted coffee and cold drinks in a relaxed setting with access to free wifi.

Whether visitors are looking for a family friendly café, a refuelling point after a cycle or walk or simply fancy a good coffee and slice of homemade cake, the new owners plan to provide a friendly, welcoming space at the heart of the busy Park.

Lauren explains: “This was a fantastic opportunity and one we just couldn’t say no to. The café has such huge potential. 2018 is set to be a busy and exciting year for our new partnership with Betteshanger. We’re looking forward to meeting our customers, both old and new, over the coming weeks.”

Lauren continued: “We understand that provenance of food is important and we will be recognising this in the new menu. We will sourcing much of our produce locally, including quality butchers, bakers and ice cream.”

The café will employ five staff that are all from the local area, fitting with the project-wide ethos of the Betteshanger Park development to support the local economy through employment.

Richard Morsley, Betteshanger Sustainable Parks Director, said: “We have taken proactive steps to improve the quality of the offer across the Betteshanger site and we are excited to be working in partnership with Lauren and her team on this new venture. Our café is always one of the most popular places on the Park and are pleased to be able to offer our visitors a new range of healthy food options. Betteshanger is all about enjoying the outdoors, being energised and active and the food offered through the café will now match with the brand values and aspirations for the future developments of the Park. We’re in no doubt that the café changes will complement the wider offer on the Park and be welcomed by visitors old and new.”

Located within Betteshanger Park, on the outskirts of Deal, the café is open from 9am every day of the week, with new extended opening times from 8am at weekends. The Lillyroo’s VW van will also be onsite during busy weekends and special events, extending the offer into the wider park.

For more information go to betteshanger-park.co.uk


Picture caption (L-R): Lauren Mackenzie and Richard Morsley

Energising festive fun at Betteshanger

Who says winter is for hibernating? Get ready for some serious outdoor fun at Betteshanger Park, near Deal, this Christmas.

With endless activities through December and January to keep you active and energised there is no need to worry about the inevitable festive excess.

Get creative in nature

Embrace the Christmas preparations early and join our Wreath Making Workshop on Saturday, December 2nd and Sunday, December 3rd

Unleash your creative flair making a rustic wreath in our woodland setting. Lots of help will be on hand as you use natural materials found around the Park. You’ll be the envy of your neighbours when you hang it proudly on your door.

£30 per wreath (up to 4 people per wreath, additional people £5 each).

Warm drinks and mince pies included. Pre-booking essential.

From Thursday, December 21st to Sunday, December 24th bring the family together and make a special Christmas ornament to adorn your home. Take your pick from the natural materials and craft your own ornament such as a Willow Star, Pine Cone Fairy or Wooden Snowman.

£3 per ornament. Booking not required.

Earn your Elf degree

He’s making a list… He’s checking it twice… But Santa can’t take all the Christmas credit. He has an enormous team of highly qualified elves helping with all the festive preparations.

On 17th December, with special dispensation from the big man himself, a small team of woodland elves will be taking up residence in our Forest School site.

In this fun, interactive session, you’ll learn the essential forest skills needed to become a woodland elf. Play fun games and take part in festive craft activities – all with a little splash of magic!

Woodland Elf School is suitable for children aged 4 and over. All children must be accompanied by an adult.  £15 child. £5 adult. Pre-booking required. Limited availability.

Get your winter sports fix

Grab your friends and family and experience the thrill and exhilaration of Snow Tubing. From Thursday, December 21st through to Monday, January 1st get your heart pumping and adrenalin flowing as you speed down the 18m-long man-made slope on a large inflatable ring. It’s guaranteed to bring out the kid in everyone.

Everyone can do it. No special skills are needed. Just jump on the tube and enjoy the ride.

All safety equipment will be provided. The minimum age for Snow Tubing is 5 years.  Under 8s to be accompanied by an adult

£5 for 3 goes. Booking recommended

See you at the top!

If heights and speed leave you feeling weak at the knees, keep your feet a bit nearer the ground and clamber and crawl through over100m of specially created snow caves hidden beneath our artificial ski slope.

£5 each. Booking recommended. The snow caves are suitable for ages 5 and over. Under 8’s must be accompanied by an adult through the caves. The caves will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete.

Go for a spin on two-wheels

If Santa was the bearer of bicycles this Christmas, Betteshanger’s 250-acre traffic-free environment is ideal for putting new wheels to the test. Take a leisurely cycle around the smooth tarmac track or hit the mountain bike trails for some adrenalin-pumping action.

If confidence levels need a bit of a helping hand, group Learn to Ride sessions will take place on Wednesday 27, Friday 29 and Sunday 31 December. Sessions are £12.50 for 1 hour or £30 for 3 session.

Advance Cycle Coaching will run from Wednesday, December 27 – Monday, January 1st by arrangement. £25 per session.

For more information or to book the activities go to betteshanger-park.co.uk/Christmas


Picture caption:  Snow Tubing © Shutterstock


For further media information on Betteshanger Sustainable Parks, please contact Lynnette Crisp at Lynnette.Crisp@betteshangerparks.co.uk or call 01304 619227.

Half term fun for your witches and wizards

Brush off your broomsticks, polish your wands and dust off your spell books. Join Betteshanger Park’s Halloween half term fun with your little witches and wizards. Spectacularly spooky activities will be taking place throughout the week.

Kicking off a packed week of family-friendly activities, the Sky Birds of Prey display team will be returning to the Park to display a spectacular collection of Owls for the Park’s first Owl Encounter.

On Sunday, October 22nd visitors to the Park will have the opportunity to get up close to one of nature’s most beautiful nocturnal creatures. There will be an opportunity to meet a range a different Owls, learn about their behaviour and witness the night predators soar over the Park. Audience participation is not uncommon.

The Owls will be at the Park 10am to 3pm, with flying displays at 12noon and 2pm. Entry to the Owl Encounter is free.

Tracy Brunt, Betteshanger Park’s General Manager, said: “We have at least five Owls joining us for our Owl Encounter. It’s set to be a wonderful day for all the family and it will set the scene perfectly for the Halloween break. We’ve a packed week of activities planned and we’re looking forward to welcoming visitors some fearsome fun!”

Other events taking place during the half term include:

Halloween Trail (self-led)

Saturday 21st – Sunday 29th October
Time: 10am-3pm
Price: £1.50 per trail sheet

Follow Tawny Owl, Guardian of the Woods, and his loyal friend Spider on a mysterious self-guided trail around the Park. Find the ten mystical sites, work out the riddles, solve the skeleton puzzles and, if you manage to crack the code, claim your prize.

Feeling Frightful?
Saturday 21st – Monday 23rd October & Friday 27th – Sunday 29th October
Time: 10am-3pm
Price: £3

A mining-themed feast for your senses. You’re at pit bottom, it’s the end of your shift but your head torch has failed. How are you going to find your way?

Crawl, scramble and feel your way out of the mine. You must watch your footing and beware of the unexpected obstacles in your path. Will you make it back in time to catch the last ride to pit top?

If you successfully navigate your way out of the mine, we’ll put your senses to the test. How many freaky mining objects will you be able to identify using only your sense of touch?

Pumpkin Carving

Date: Monday 23rd – Sunday 29th October
Time: 11am – 3pm
Price: £5 (including Pumpkin and carving kit)

Halloween is not complete until you have a spooky pumpkin. Save your kitchen from getting messy this Halloween and come and carve your pumpkins with us! We’ll have lots of ghoulish ideas to get you started at our carving station.

No need to book, just come along. You may get a little messy, so come dressed with that in mind.

Forest School Holiday Club
Date: Tuesday 24th – Thursday 26th October
Time: 9am – 3pm
Price: £25 per day (£20 for additional siblings). Book via betteshanger-park.co.uk

Really Wild Wooders popular holiday club is back for October. Days will be full to the brim with learning how to use a whole range of different tools, lighting fires, camp fire cooking, creating woodland crafts, building dens, climbing trees, making friends and exploring our amazing forest school site. Your little ones will come home mucky, exhausted and full of stories.

£25 a day (£20 for siblings) includes hot drinks, a campfire snack, equipment and activities.

Pop-up Kent Mining Museum
Date: Tuesday 24th – Thursday 26 October
Time: 10am-3pm
Price: Free

Dig in to Kent’s coal mining past with drop-in activities in our pop-up museum. There are 1,000’s of examples of badges connected to the coal industry and they’re a popular form of mining memorabilia. Come and make your own this Halloween half term. Choose a familiar icon of the mining industry such as a lamp, headgear or pick or let your imagination run wild and come up with your own design.

We’ll also have our mini miner dress up – feel what it was like to dress for a day’s work down the pit – plus we’ll have some mining artefacts on display.

Taking part in the activities is free. Donations can be made towards the Kent Mining Heritage Foundation, the charity responsible for collecting, caring for and promoting East Kent’s coal mining heritage.

 Woodland Witches and Wizards
Date: Saturday 28th – Sunday 29th October
Times: 10am and 1.30pm
Price: £12.50 per child. £5 per adult. Book via betteshanger-park.co.uk

Calling budding Witches and Wizards! Join us deep the woods over Halloween weekend as we conjure up some friendly forest spirits. We’ll work together to make broomsticks, wands and spider webs. We’ll toast sticky marshmallows over the open fire and explore the woods hunting for creepy crawlies and things that go ‘boooo’!

We encourage little ones to come dressed as their favourite Halloween characters but ask that they are also prepared for being outside for the whole session.

Suitable for ages 4 – 11. Children need to be accompanied by an adult.

 Open Air Cinema: Hocus Pocus
Date: Saturday 28th October
Time: Doors 6pm, film 7pm
Price: £7.50 early bird. £10 general admission. Book via betteshanger-park.co.uk

As darkness descends on the Park we’ll be firing up the big screen to show cult family favourite, Hocus Pocus (1993) under the stars.

Starring Bette Midler (Winnie), Kathy Najimy (Mary) and Sarah Jessica Parker (Sarah), the comedy horror follows a villainous trio of witch sisters who are resurrected after three centuries by Max, a Halloween-hating teenager. Max must risk his life to protect his sister and put an end to their reign of terror with the help of a friendly zombie and an immortal black cat.

Betteshanger offers idyllic surroundings for Open Air Cinema. Set in the heart of the Park, both the cinema screen and natural auditorium are entirely uncovered – a perfect way to enjoy evenings in the great outdoors.

The fun doesn’t stop with the movie, there will also be local food and drinks in the festival village tipis.

Pack a comfy chair, a warm blanket and a hamper. Sit back, popcorn in hand; relax and enjoy an alternative cinema experience under the stars.

For more information or to book the activities go to betteshanger-park.co.uk/halloween


Picture caption:  Woodland Witch © Shutterstock

For further media information on Betteshanger Sustainable Parks, please contact Lynnette Crisp at Lynnette.Crisp@betteshangerparks.co.uk or call 01304 619227.

SURVIVAL: Kent’s newest obstacle course race – are you tough enough?

Betteshanger Park and MY/PT have joined forces to launch a new extreme event for Kent this autumn. SURVIVAL, Kent’s newest obstacle course race, will take place at the former colliery site, near Deal, on Saturday, October 7th.

The 6km race will see competitors braving the elements as they crawl, swim, dip, dodge and dive through 40 extreme man-made and natural obstacles spread across the unpredictable terrain of the old spoil heap at Betteshanger.

The endurance event will challenge competitors’ mental and physical ability, whilst also allowing for some serious outdoor fun. All finishers will be awarded SURVIVAL dog-tags.

Obstacles include:

  • Trenches
  • Mounds
  • Pits
  • Tyre Pits
  • Entanglement (through Betteshanger’s dense woodland)
  • Steep hill inclines (including “Heartbreak Hill”)
  • Slides
  • Rope regain (over water)
  • Tranazium
  • Tyre Run
  • Water

Plus a few other surprises.

SURVIVAL is for anyone who has a sense of adventure and a strong determination. It will be challenging enough for the most seasoned of racer but achievable for all levels of fitness.

Jay Ingram, Director, MY/PT said: “I am extremely excited to be bringing the immensely popular obstacle course racing phenomenon to Betteshanger Park, it’s been a dream of mine for many years. The diverse environment at the Park has allowed us to design an innovative course with a number of really challenging obstacles.”

“For some, SURVIVAL, will be about being the first over the finish line but for many it will be about celebrating personal achievement. I have built MY/PT on making fitness, health and wellbeing accessible for all. We help people face challenges, overcome fears and, most importantly, have fun. For me, SURVIVAL encapsulates all of this in an incredible one-day event.”

Tracy Brunt, General Manager, Betteshanger Park, said: “We’re hoping people will take a punt on a new event on the race calendar. SURVIVAL will grow significantly over the coming years and our aim is for it to become Kent’s biggest OCR. We urge everyone to sign up, your level of fitness is not important. You’ll get wet, muddy and covered in coal spoil. You’ll laugh and quite possibly cry. But you’ll have a blast and we guarantee you’ll have a smile on your face when you cross the finish line. It’s going to be epic!”

Registration for the event is now open via betteshanger-park.co.uk/survival

SURVIVAL has been made possible with the kind support of Ovendens and JustSigns.

Betteshanger Business takes first steps

Phase I of Betteshanger Business, part of the Hadlow Group’s Betteshanger Sustainable Parks project near Deal, has been granted planning permission.

Plans for the 2,500m2 Preventative Health Enterprise Incubation Hub, to be located on the site of the former Betteshanger Colliery, were approved unanimously at Dover District Council’s planning committee at the end of July. The quality of the architecture was also recognised by the committee.

Scheduled to open in January 2019, The Hub will support the development of a range of small and medium sized businesses from conventional health care to alternative forms of care (e.g. natural medicine), active sports, healthy eating and food production and health innovation research and development. It will place particular emphasis on commercial enterprises designed to combat obesity and Alzheimer’s.

The 3 storey building will have low environmental impact at its core. It will use passive principles, maximise daylight usage, use natural ventilation, minimise energy consumption, minimise water usage and utilise sustainable sources and materials.  It will achieve at least BREEAM Excellent – the world’s foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings.

The Hub will support c.750 people per year and create an estimated 700 jobs by the end of 2020.

Richard Morsley, Director, Betteshanger Sustainable Parks, said: “We are pleased our planning application has been approved by Dover District Council. This marks an exciting first step for the development of the business park at Betteshanger and is a key part of the wider masterplan which will see the creation of a cluster of commercial and educational facilities on the brownfield site.“

 News on a £2m funding application to the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) to support the development is imminent. The total project value is £4.2m.

For more information about Betteshanger Business see betteshanger.wpengine.com


Intergenerational group joins forces to create new Kent Mining Banner

The Kent Mining Museum team, together with groups from the local community, have created a new Mining Banner depicting the Kent Coalfield: past, present and future.

The 2m high banner, which made its début in the Deal Carnival parade on Thursday July 27th, is a culmination of 10 weeks of work by a number of local groups. Comprising of families, students from Sholden Primary and Sandwich Technology School plus members of White Cliffs Country U3A, the group members ranged from aged 2 to 73.

The project, funded by the Port of Dover Community Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund, involved weekly workshops at a number of local venues including Sholden Primary School and Sandwich Technology School. Sessions were facilitated by Francesca Goodhart, Kent Mining Museum’s Learning and Engagement Officer, and led by Whitstable-based Fable and Base’s Francesca Baur, who also, along with the White Cliff’s U3A group, put the finishing touches on the banner.

Inspiration for the banner was taken from traditional colliery banners and through talking to former miners at Betteshanger Welfare, Sports and Social Club and Betteshanger Social Club. The final banner includes familiar mining icons such a pit head gear, a miners’ safety lamp plus a map of the UK showing where people migrated from to work in the Kent coalfield. Animals in the four corners: a mouse, a hornet, a canary and a pit pony, depict creatures who were welcome helpers in the mine plus some uninvited inhabitants. The names of the four
main Kent collieries – Betteshanger, Chislet, Tilmanstone and Snowdown, are displayed in bold lettering. Some added modern interpretations include bicycles and wind turbines, representing the renewable energies of the future.

Francesca Goodhart, Kent Mining Museum’s Learning and Engagement Officer, said: “We started the banner project on May 4 th and it was finished on the day of the Carnival. Despite the wide age range between the group members, they all worked together incredibly well, sharing skills and techniques that included drawing, painting, embroidery, screen-printing, applique, batik, and felting. The finished banner is exceptional and everyone involved in the project should be really proud. The Deal Carnival gave us a wonderful opportunity to parade the banner and we were delighted to be awarded the ‘Spirit of the Carnival’ cup”.

The Banner will on display again at the Kent Miner’s Festival (28th August), Betteshanger Park’s Mining Heritage Day on 10th September and will have pride of place in the Kent Mining Museum when it opens at Betteshanger in 2018.

For further media information on the Kent Mining Museum please contact Lynnette Crisp at Lynnette.Crisp@betteshangerparks.co.uk or call 01304 619227.

Museum collection swells

Museum collection swells

The Kent Mining Museum, due to open at Betteshanger Park near Deal in 2018, have become custodians of over 500 artefacts relating to the history of the Kent Coalfield.

The new collection, on loan from Dover Museum, includes mining workwear, signage, equipment and ephemera and will form part of the Museum displays and its research archive. Items of significance include the Snowdown Colliery plant book, offering a valuable glimpse into the working methods of the pit in its early years, The collection move comes after Museum recently completed its new Storeroom. With specialist storage units and state of the environmental monitoring equipment (both funded by a generous donation from the Association of Independent
Museums), the Kent Mining Museum is now able to care for and help preserve items relating to Kent’s unique mining heritage.

Darran Cowd, Museum and Heritage Manager, Kent Mining Museum, said: “To be asked to take care of this substantial collection is a big vote of confidence for the Kent Mining Museum. Many of the items will form parts of the displays when we open the doors to the Museum next year. There are deep links between the coalfield and the wider communities of the Dover area and we continue to work closely with Dover Museum to collect and promote the heritage of the area.”

Particular thanks are due to Jon Iveson and Dr Lynda Pearce of Dover Museum for facilitating the loan and making their own knowledge of the coalfield available to the museum project.

The Museum is actively looking for further stories and items about the Kent Coalfield. If you have something, a badge, books, photographs, Davy lamp, tools or a grandparent’s diary telling of their journey to Kent, the team urge you to get in touch. They’ll be given a safe home, where they’ll be used and shared with future generations.

The Kent Mining Heritage Foundation (KMHF) is a registered charity (charity no. 1165403) working in partnership with Betteshanger Park, Hadlow Group, Aylesham and Elvington & Eythorne Heritage Centres to collect, care and promote East Kent’s coal mining heritage. From the outset The Betteshanger Project has been working towards a fundraising target of £1.8m. Through the work of the Kent Mining Heritage Foundation’s Development Group the project has received unprecedented support but currently faces a £0.9m funding gap. Your help is vital in ensuring the success of the project.

For information about the Kent Mining Museum, see www.betteshanger-park.co.uk 

Image caption: Darran Cowd, Museum & Heritage Manager, Kent Mining Museum, with some of the collection from Dover Museum.


For further media information on the Kent Mining Museum and the Kent Mining Heritage Foundation please contact Lynnette Crisp at Lynnette.Crisp@betteshangerparks.co.uk or call 01304 619227.

About Betteshanger Sustainable Parks:

  • Betteshanger Park, near Deal in East Kent, is operated as part of the Betteshanger Sustainable Parks scheme and is integral to the regeneration of the former mining community in East Kent.
  • Betteshanger Sustainable Parks is part of the Hadlow Group, which includes Hadlow College, a premier UK land-based college, ranked Ofsted Outstanding.
  • The £40 million Betteshanger Sustainable Parks scheme will drive the regeneration of the site and the area, combining sustainable business and commerce; education; health and wellbeing; sustainable energy; and tourism.
  • Located on the site of the former Betteshanger colliery, the scheme will see the 121-hectare site transformed into a much-enhanced Country Park, including new Visitor Centre encompassing the Kent Mining Museum, and adjacent Business Park.
  • The Kent Mining Museum will be a core feature of the new Visitor Centre. Devised to celebrate and preserve Kent’s coal mining heritage. The Museum will embrace a unique collection of oral history, archives and artefacts, many of which would otherwise be in danger of being lost forever.
  • The Kent Mining Heritage Foundation (KMHF) is a registered charity (charity no. 1165403) working in partnership with Betteshanger Park, Hadlow Group, Aylesham and Elvington & Eythorne Heritage Centres to collect, care and promote East Kent’s coal mining heritage.
  • The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has confirmed a £1.3m grant to be used specifically to support the development and operation of the Kent Mining Museum.

Miners reunited for Mining Museum collection

Kent Mining Heritage Foundation has unearthed a unique collection of images offering a glimpse into life at Betteshanger Colliery and reunited ex-miners in the process.

The set of thirty-six black and white negatives has been gifted to the new Heritage Lottery-funded Kent Mining Museum, which is opening at Betteshanger Park, near Deal, in 2018.

Darran Cowd, Museum and Heritage Manager, Kent Mining Museum, said: “With picture research for the Kent Mining Museum displays underway, a phone message from someone, who we now know as Mike Dugdale, saying they had some photographs of a Kent colliery was too good an opportunity to miss. This was just the start of what turned out to be an amazing journey into the past of the Kent Coalfield.”

Hythe-based photographer and cameraman Mike Dugdale visited Betteshanger Colliery in 1968 as a student of Medway College of Art & Design, looking to take photographs of the miners. The resulting collection of images show miners both in groups and individually as they change shifts. They show a very human side to Kent’s bygone industry, catching the miners in a brief moment of respite.

Mike recalled: “At 18, I spent each day in an unrealistic world, in an art college studio with fashion models. However, my real passion was portraiture at its most natural. It reflected the hardship and toil that many people experienced on a day-today basis.”

“On my visit to Betteshanger I was allowed free access to all surface areas. By absolute luck, as I arrived near the pithead, a group of young apprentices, a few years younger than myself, had just emerged and I simply placed this group of coal dustcovered lads in front of the winding gear and took several photographs.”

The discovery of the images launched a research project for the Kent Mining Museum team to identify the miners from the photographs. With the help of the local mining communities, many have now been named. This has subsequently led to a reunion of photographer and some of the subjects almost fifty years after Mike’s first visit to Betteshanger.

Mike, along with twins Andrew and John Inglis and Brian Hood, met again at Almond House, the former administrative headquarters for Betteshanger Colliery, earlier this year. The original photographs triggered reminiscences about their time down the mines, including stories of their working life, accidents at the pit, the strikes and the humour that released some of the stress of an otherwise dangerous job.

Mike credits the photographs of another miner, Douglas Carr, with helping him get his very first job in television.

Mike also added: “Of what has since been a lifetime of photography, it is the image of a blackened 15-year-old Kent mining apprentice, taken by me as an 18-year-old art student nearly half a century ago, that means so much and has altered my life.”

Mike’s negatives have been scanned and will be printed, forming part of the Kent Mining Museum’s collections when it opens next year. Once complete, the Museum will celebrate the Kent Coalfield, showcasing the story of the local mining communities and their heritage.

The Museum is actively looking for further stories and items about the Kent Coalfield. If you have something, a badge, books, photographs, Davy lamp, tools or a grandparent’s diary telling of their journey to Kent, the team urge you to get in touch. They’ll be given a safe home, where they’ll be used and shared with future generations.

For information about the Kent Mining Museum, see www.betteshanger-park.co.uk

Highest ever recorded visitor numbers for Betteshanger Park

Over 18,500 visitors entered Betteshanger Park, near Deal, during April 2017 – an all-time monthly record for the Park.

Betteshanger Park, led by The Hadlow Group and operated as part of the wider Betteshanger Sustainable Parks project, recorded a total of 18,508 visitors during April 2017 – 75% up on the same period in 2016 and 24% higher than August 2016, the previous record holder.

The increase in visitor numbers comes after the Park recently announced a programme of site-wide improvements, including two giant Scandinavian-style tipis and a 3-acre open air grass amphitheatre. Proactive marketing and promotion, increased event programming and a focus on providing a quality offer, coupled with good weather throughout April have been cited as helping to boost numbers.

Significant growth has been in seen in the commercial areas of the business, most notably for cycle hire which recorded a 258% increase compared to April 2016.

For the Easter holiday period alone, the Park welcomed 13,556 visitors, showing a 60% increase on the previous year. The popular annual Easter Egg Hunt, traditionally only held on Good Friday, was extended to a 3-day event, which helped attract additional visitors.

Tracy Brunt, Event Manager, Betteshanger Sustainable Parks said: “I am thrilled that we’re starting to break records at Betteshanger. We ran a packed programme of events throughout the Easter holiday including donkeys, a mountain bike stunt display team and our everpopular Easter Egg Hunt. As well as record breaking numbers we’ve also received an influx of positive visitor reviews and feedback. A huge thank you goes out to everyone who visited during April and indeed to all our visitors over the past year.”

During Spring 2018, Betteshanger Park will open a new £8m stateof-the-art new visitor centre housing the Kent Mining Museum – the only museum dedicated to telling the story of Kent’s unique mining heritage. The museum has support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Richard Morsley, Director, Betteshanger Sustainable Parks added: “This recent success shows that people are starting to consider Betteshanger as a ‘day out’ option, which bodes well for the future of the project. Our visitors make a vital contribution to the running of Betteshanger, which helps not only to reduce the reliance on funding from Hadlow Group but it also helps the Park become self-sustaining; keeping it free to enter for all. We are extremely excited about what the next 12 months will bring. We’ve got a packed programme of events this summer and hope to be welcoming many more visitors before we officially launch our new facilities in the Spring.”

To find out more about Betteshanger Park and the summer programme visit www.betteshanger-park.co.uk