Improvement work continues apace Betteshanger

Work at the £40m Betteshanger Sustainable Parks project, on the site of the former Betteshanger Colliery near Deal, is building momentum.

Led by the Hadlow Group, a new £8m Visitor Centre, including the Kent Mining Museum and Green Energy Centre, is due to open at the country park site in 2018. In readiness for the launch of the state-of-the-art new facilities a programme of site-wide improvement work is being implemented.

Work commenced on site in March to develop a new open air grass amphitheatre. The 3-acre event space, representing a £70,000 investment, will have a capacity of up to 3,000 people. It will be used for open air theatre, cinema, market days and special events. As a former colliery, the site itself provided ample coal spoil for the base of the structure. Aylesham-based construction company Ovenden has then capped with clay for stability and covered in a layer of top soil. It will be seeded with a deep rooted grass mix. Work will be complete this month and the space will be open for use from 2018— allowing essential time for the grass to establish.

Ashford-based agricultural specialist White Land Solutions has landscaped the area to the rear of the play park. The site has been shaped and will be seeded. This will extend the grass area around the play area, making an open green space for play outside the new Visitor Centre.

Further investment has been made in two giant Scandinavian-style tipis. Sitting proudly on top of the hill, the tipis will provide an allweather temporary event space for the 2017 season. Forming the core of a new festival village for the spring and summer programme, the tipis will be joined by local food and drink stalls during busy periods.

In partnership with Kent Wildlife Trust a long-term management and conservation plan is being developed for the Park. Work has started on Tenant Pond to landscape it into a wildlife pond.

The opening of the new Visitor Centre and improved Park facilities is the first phase of the Betteshanger Sustainable Parks development. Phase II will see ‘Betteshanger Business’ developed on the site of the former colliery pit head. Betteshanger Business will become a bespoke green technologies park of exemplary low carbon buildings for companies in health and wellbeing, food security, environmental technology, life sciences and green technology.

The first phase ‘Health Care Enterprise Incubation Hub’ is planned for development in 2018, opening early 2019. An application will be submitted to the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) shortly.

Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, Deputy Group Principal and Deputy CEO, Hadlow Group said: “Our aim is to make Betteshanger the UK’s first destination to celebrate the evolution of energy, from its heritage to future energy sources in all its forms within unrivalled, state of the art facilities. The recent developments for both parts of the Betteshanger site marks the start of the exciting build up towards the launch of the full Betteshanger Sustainable Parks project.”

“Using local suppliers and contractors means we maximise the impact of the project for the local economy and keep the environmental footprint of the project as small as possible, which is fundamental to what we are seeking to achieve at Betteshanger.”

Richard Morsley, Director, Betteshanger Sustainable Parks, said: “We appreciate some of the recent work has caused a small amount of disruption to our regular visitors but we have carefully programmed the work to ensure it has minimal impact. We ask that visitors bear with us, we are undertaking a big project and there will be disruptive phases. We are extremely excited about Betteshanger’s future and, once complete, the new facilities will make a significant improvement to the quality of the visitor experience.”

To find out more about the Betteshanger Sustainable Parks project visit betteshanger.wpengine.com

2017 Outdoor Cinema Season announced at Betteshanger Park

Due to the success of the 2016 events, Betteshanger Park, near Deal, is pleased to announce a season of outdoor cinema screening for 2017.

Set in the heart of the Park, both the cinema screen and natural auditorium are entirely uncovered – a perfect way to enjoy long, warm summer evenings in the great outdoors.

The alfresco season includes:

Disney’s The BFG (2016) Saturday, May 6th

Steven Spielberg’s screen adaptation of one of Roald Dahl’s best loved stories tells the imaginative tale of Sophie and her encounters with a kindhearted giant and the other, less friendly, inhabitants of Giant Country. Tickets £10. Early bird: £7.50. Doors 7pm, film 8pm

Sci-fi all-nighter Saturday, June 24th

A midsummer’s day, late night cinema double bill of sci-fi hits Galaxy Quest (1999) and Moon (2009). The overnight event will also have star gazing activities, Midnight feasts and open air breakfasts. Cinema goers are invited to camp and bivouac in the Park. For ages 16 and over. Tickets £32.50, includes breakfast. Early bird £27.50. Doors 8pm first film 9.30pm, second film 12am.

The People’s Choice Saturday, August 19th

Film lovers can vote on which movie they would like to watch from a choice of: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them (2016), Beauty and the Beast (2017) and Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012). (Votes can be cast via Betteshanger social media or in person at the Park. The poll will close on Monday, April 17th and the film choice will be announced on Tuesday, April 18th). Tickets £10. Early bird: £7.50. Doors 7pm, film 8pm.

Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) Saturday, September 16th

The final film of the summer season will be Tim Burton’s popular adaptation of the Lewis Carroll classic. Alice returns to the whimsical world of Wonderland as she travels back in time to help the Mad Hatter. Cinema goers are invited to create their own Mad Hatter’s Tea Party before the film. Tickets £10. Early bird: £7.50. Doors 7pm, film 8pm

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

Tracy Brunt, Betteshanger Park’s Event Manager, said: “Cinema trips are traditionally saved for rainy days. We want to buck that trend and combine popular films with the great outdoors. We hope our Open Air Cinema Season becomes firm fixture of the Kent summer.”

“Being at Betteshanger after dark is a special experience that not many people have the opportunity to enjoy. Our moonlit movies, set against a backdrop of spectacular sunset views over Sandwich Bay and the Thanet coast, make for a good fun, great value night out.”

Open Air Cinema goes ahead come rain or shine. Guests are reminded to bring appropriate clothing and equipment for an evening out in Great British weather.

Betteshanger Park is fast becoming one of East Kent’s most exciting venues for outdoor events. With an extraordinary blend of high adrenaline activities and hands-on masterclasses and workshops mixed with popular family favourites – all taking place within the beautiful surroundings of 250-acre country park.

Booking is now open for all events via www.betteshanger-park.co.uk/cinema

Be part of the energy at Betteshanger this Easter

Hop down with your little bunnies to Betteshanger Park, near Deal, for an energy-fuelled Easter holiday.

Donkey Day kicks off the holiday activities. Back by popular demand, the awardwinning Mike’s Donkeys return to the Park on Sunday, April 2nd . Bella, Charlie, Danny and Dermot, the loveable donkeys, will be making a special Easter visit to Betteshanger between 11am and 3pm. Chin rubs, back scratches, cuddles and carrots are the order of the day. Families are also invited to take part in the Little Donkey Quest and spot how many donkeys can be found around the Visitor Centre and Play area. Free event.

Savage Skills, the UK’s leading freestyle mountain bike stunt team, visit Betteshanger for the first time on Sunday, April 9th. With a jaw-dropping show, the stunt riders will showcase spectacular stunts including awesome balancing skills, twists and turns and death-defying back flips. Prepare to be amazed during this high adrenaline, action-packed event. Performances take place at 12pm; 1pm; 2pm and 3pm. Free event.

Not content with sitting back and watching the show? Those with a penchant for mountain bike skills or anyone who simply likes to show off can learn to bounce a bike like a pro in Betteshanger’s Bunny Hop Masterclass. Running on Saturday, April 8 th and Sunday, April 9 th, the mountain bike skills masterclass will teach the correct technique and body position to enable riders to jump both wheels off the ground at the same time in a smooth and controlled hop. The masterclass is £12.50 per rider or £20 for two (includes bike hire). Pre-booking recommended. The workshop lasts approximately 90 minutes and is suitable for ages 10 years and over.

Betteshanger’s annual Easter Egg Hunt returns for 2017 with more opportunities than ever for getting involved. This year the Egg Hunt will run from Good Friday, April 14th, through to Easter Sunday, April 16th . Coloured gems will be scattered throughout the 250-acre Park and families are invited to hunt for the treasures. On return of their riches to the Visitor Centre, the intrepid hunters will claim a chocolate egg. £4.00 per egg hunter. Pre-booking recommended.

Tracy Brunt, Betteshanger Park’s Event Manager, said: “Our Easter Egg Hunt has become a highlight in the calendar and we are really pleased to extend the event over Easter Weekend, allowing more families to be involved. We are excited to welcome back Mike’s Donkeys and thrilled to be hosting Savage Skills at the Park for the first time. As with all things at Betteshanger, there are plenty of opportunities for taking part and our Bunny Hop Masterclass is no exception. It’s not just for the kids though, we know there are many grown-ups out there who have long wanted to perfect this skill! We recommend pre-booking for the workshop to avoid disappointment.”

Other events taking place through the Easter school holiday include:

Easter trail 9.30am – 4.30pm, Saturday 1 st – Monday 17th April

Follow the spring chick on a fun trail as it explores Betteshanger. Fun in all weathers and a great way to explore the outdoors. Welly boots advisable! £1.50 per trail sheet.

Betteshanger Basecamp 10am – 4pm, weekdays, Monday 3rd April – Friday 7th April & Monday 10th – Thursday 13th April

Betteshanger’s popular school holiday club, Betteshanger Basecamp, returns for the Easter holidays. Children are guaranteed an exhilarating, fun-filled day exploring the Park. With at least two activities programmed per day, they could be kicking up dirt on the mountain bike trails, taking aim on the archery range, digging for fossils in the coal spoil, racing through the military-style obstacle course or building dens in the woods. They’ll probably come home a bit muddy but they’ll get loads of fresh air and have heaps of fun in the great outdoors. Suitable for ages 8–14. Sessions cost £25 per day and all equipment is included. Breakfast and lunch bolt-ons are available. Sessions happen whatever the weather, so participants should dress appropriately. Early booking advised for this popular club.

Really Wild Wooders Forest School holiday club 9am – 3pm, Monday 3rd – Thursday 6th April & Monday 10th – Thursday 13th April

Really Wild Wooders holiday club is jam-packed with fun and adventure. Days will be full to the brim with learning how to use a whole range of different tools, light fires, campfire cooking, creating woodland crafts, building dens, making friends, climbing trees and exploring the amazing forest school site at Betteshanger. Kids will come home buzzing with excitement, with hundreds of stories to tell, plus lots of skills they will be able to share. Suitable for ages 8 and over. £25 per day which includes all activities, equipment, snacks and hot drinks. Pre-booking essential.

Really Wild Wooders Forest School family days 10am – 2pm, Friday 7th and Friday 14th April

A wonderful day spent enjoying quality family time in a beautiful natural environment, learning new skills, building dens, making woodland crafts, swinging on the rope swing or relaxing in the hammock, plus campfire snacks and plenty of hot drinks. £15 per adult, £10 first child, £8 additional children, under-1s free of charge. Maximum 3 children per adult. Pre-booking essential.

Easter craft activities (11am-3pm, 14th – 16th April)

Get creative in the Visitor Centre throughout the Easter weekend (14th – 16th April). Let imaginations bounce loose with making and decorating Top Hats or Easter Bonnets. £4 per crafter.

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

Extra tickets released for The Beast at Betteshanger Park

One thousand additional tickets will be released for Betteshanger Park’s huge summer event, The Beast. Five additional afternoon sessions have been added to provide as many opportunities as possible for visitors to experience the popular inflatable obstacle course.

At 272m The Beast is the world’s largest inflatable obstacle course and one of its first UK outings will be at Betteshanger, from Friday, May 26th to Monday, May 29th 2017.

With just under three months to the event, Betteshanger Park has already sold 7,000 tickets, with weekend and party night tickets now sold out. The additional ticket release will be for sessions starting from 3.15pm on Friday, May 26th.

Tracy Brunt, Betteshanger Park’s Events Manager, said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the huge response to The Beast @ Betteshanger. We want to provide access to as many people as possible during The Beast’s 4-day stay at the Park and we know there are disappointed people who missed out on tickets. We are delighted to have the opportunity to schedule some additional sessions for Friday afternoon. We anticipate these extra tickets going fast so we suggest people get in quickly!”

The additional tickets will be on general sale on Thursday, February 23rd at 9.30am and can be booked via www.betteshanger-park.co.uk/beast

Tickets are currently available for the Corporate & Fundraising Day on Friday, May 26th.

The Beast, the world’s largest inflatable: booking now at Betteshanger

The ultimate bouncy castle experience for adults is coming to Deal in May 2017. At 272m The Beast is the world’s largest inflatable obstacle course and its first UK outing will be at Betteshanger Park.

The Beast will be at the Park from Friday, May 26th to Monday, May 29th 2017. Friday will be dedicated to corporate and fundraising teams. Saturday to Monday will be for general public, with added party nights on Friday and Saturday for those who want to have a night out with a difference.

Participants can run and bounce their way around 32 obstacles including inflatable walls, balls and rings. Bounce for fun, sign up as a team or race through to try to beat the course record.

The fun will not stop once the finish line has been crossed. There will be a chance to sit back, relax with friends and family in the Park and enjoy delicious food and drink from local suppliers. Other activities will be available throughout the weekend to complete the fun day out for the whole family.

Tickets will be on general sale on Friday, February 10th at 9.30am and can be booked via www.betteshanger-park.co.uk/beast

New Year’s resolutions tested with new Military fitness offering at Betteshanger

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions. They vary from going on a diet, to getting a new job or getting more exercise. To put the latter to the test, MY/PT is bringing a unique style of outdoor military fitness to Betteshanger Park, near Deal, this January.

Officially launching on Saturday, January 7th 2017, MY/PT will be run and operated by Jay Ingram, fresh from serving 16 years in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. Daily sessions will start at the Park from Monday, January 9th .

Operated within a designated area of Betteshanger Park and including a new obstacle course infrastructure, MY/PT sessions will range from interval training and body resistance through to fullbattle style physical training. Activity will cater for all abilities from novice to seasoned pro. All sessions will be specifically tailored to improve fitness levels and will include military-style challenges. No session will be the same.

The official opening ceremony will take place at 11am which will include a demonstration by students from Impact South East. Free sessions will run between 11.30am and 1pm. The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment recruiting team will also be in attendance. There will be a special joining fee for anyone who signs up to MY/PT membership on the day.

Jay Ingram, MY/PT said: “I’ve spent my career in the Armed Forces physically preparing and training soldiers for operational deployments and I wanted to utilise these skills in the civilian world. We’ve spent the last few months creating a specialised MY/PT area at Betteshanger which has included upgrading the existing facilities of the obstacle course, making it more challenging. We want to help people deliver on that New Year resolution of getting fit and losing weight. Through MY/PT we can work closely with our members to help them develop a healthy body and healthy mind, plus they’ll get to meet new people and improve fitness levels all within a safe but challenging environment.”

Lorraine Cheesmur, Betteshanger Park’s General Manager said: “We continue to develop the offering of Betteshanger for our visitors and this complements what is already in place and yet to come. We’re really excited about MY/PT, it will put many people through their paces and help work of the excess of Christmas. They will get muddy and sweaty and they’ll be pushed to their limits but it is guaranteed to improve fitness and work off hundreds calories.”

Full details of prices and membership can be found on the website http://park.betteshanger.wpengine.com/things-to-do/mypt/

The world’s largest inflatable is coming to Kent

The ultimate bouncy castle experience for adults is coming to Deal in May 2017. At 272m The Beast is the world’s largest inflatable obstacle course and its first UK outing will be at Betteshanger Park.

Betteshanger has confirmed the dates for the event this week. The Beast will be at the Park from Friday May 26th to Monday May 29th 2017. Friday will be dedicated to corporate bookings only. Saturday, Sunday and Monday will be open for general public with special party nights on Friday and Saturday for those who want to bounce to their favourite tunes and have a night out with a difference.

Participants can run and bounce their way around 32 obstacles including inflatable walls, balls and rings. People are encouraged to bounce for fun, sign up as a team or race through and get their name on top of the leader board.

The fun will not stop once people have crossed the finish line. They will be invited to sit back, relax with friends and family in the Park and enjoy delicious food and drink from local suppliers. Other activities will be available throughout the weekend to complete the fun day out for the whole family.

Tickets will be on sale from the end of January 2017. The Beast will be suitable for everyone aged 8 and over.

Sign up to the Betteshanger mailing list to gain access to priority tickets at www.betteshanger-park.co.uk/beast

Mine cars find home at Betteshanger Park’s new museum

The Kent Mining Museum, due to open at Betteshanger Park near Deal in late spring 2017, begins an exciting volunteer project this week to conserve three original mine cars from Tilmanstone Colliery.

Working in partnership with Dover Transport Museum, the project commenced on Friday, December 9th when the cars moved from Dover to Betteshanger. On completion of the work they will form a key part of the displays for the new mining heritage museum.

Mine cars, in one form or another, have been used for over 100 years to make it easier to transport the contents of the mines from deep underground to the surface; Tilmanstone Colliery was no exception. The coalface was accessed through deep shafts of up to 925m, via a complex of narrow gauge railway lines. These networks used tubs (small wagons) that could be hoisted up the shaft and emptied for the coal to be processed, before being taken from the colliery via the East Kent Railway. The same tubs were also used for taking materials underground, such as pit props for supporting the roof in roadways and coalfaces.

Over its working life, Tilmanstone Colliery was modernised, more coal was produced and this meant bigger tubs, or what are now known as mine cars. Alongside this modernisation, new working methods and machinery meant special mine cars were also built for specific jobs, moving heavy duty electrical cables, hydraulic oil and even explosives. When Tilmanstone Colliery closed in 1986 and the site was demolished, everything of value was removed, from the iconic headgears down to the smallest nut and bolt.

Seven mine cars were saved and found a home at Dover Transport Museum. Although a number of tubs and mine cars survive across the former coalfields of the United Kingdom, either in museums or as memorials, it is rare to have a set from one colliery that represents all the different designs that were in use.

As one might expect, the cars have had a hard working life, displaying knocks and bumps caused from being active in a heavy industry like coal mining. The conservation work will involve removing loose rust, stopping active corrosion and coating the treated surfaces with a special wax which seals the surface to stop further deterioration. It is very hands-on, detailed work – there will not be a power tool in sight.

Darran Cowd, Museum and Heritage Manager for the Kent Mining Museum, said: “We are looking forward to the mine cars going on display at the museum, but what makes the conservation project really special for me is that a number of ex-miners will be helping to restore them, keeping alive a connection between the men and machines of the Kent Coalfield.”

John Kemp, former miner, said: “It is a wonderful thing to have such a valuable part of our coalmining history in the Kent Mining Museum. Many ex-miners will remember these workhorses of the mines. I am looking forward to the cars being on show with the other displays, so that generations to come can view them and understand what it was like being a miner. I am really excited to be part of the volunteer team working on them.”

Darran also added: “The Kent Mining Museum will be looking for volunteers to get involved in this project and other museum-related initiatives in the New Year. Please keep an eye on the Betteshanger Park website and social media channels where further details will be released.”

Betteshanger visitor centre reaches new milestone

Betteshanger Sustainable Parks, located near Deal, in East Kent, has reached a new milestone with the ‘topping out’ of its new Visitor Centre.

The £40m project, incorporating a state of the art green energy visitor centre, was conceived by the Hadlow Group as part of the regeneration of the former Colliery. The 121 hectare site, which was one of the largest brownfield sites in Kent, is integral to the regeneration of the former mining community in East Kent.

The project aims to combine sustainable business and commerce, education, sustainable energy and tourism, making Betteshanger a flagship economic and social green project offering a place where work and play happens in synergy.

Phase I incorporates a new £8m Visitor Centre at Betteshanger Park, housing the Kent Mining Museum and Green Energy Centre as well as a restaurant, cycle centre, retail, conference suite and event facilities.

The Park will also boast outstanding cycle tracks and outdoor gym experience, making it a national and international destination for sport, tourism and business, all within a unique heritage location.

Betteshanger Sustainable Parks Director Richard Morsley said:

“The topping out ceremony is an exciting time for us as we have reached the next phase of the Park’s development. With the steel frame in place, visitors can now get a good sense of the scale of the new building. To put this in context, it is similar to the length of London’s The Gherkin lying down! We are now looking forward to officially opening the Centre next year.”

Jim Davies, former Betteshanger Miner said:

“The closure of the Colliery was a huge blow to the miners, their families and local people. It is wonderful to see the new Visitor Centre rise from the ashes. The Mining Museum will incorporate the whole Kent coalfield, providing an invaluable legacy. Visitors will be able to learn more about what it was like for us and our memories will be preserved for future generations.”

Mark Lumsdon-Taylor, Deputy Group Principal and Deputy CEO at the Hadlow Group said:

“The regeneration of the Colliery is fundamentally important to East Kent, the County and for Europe. Our vision for Betteshanger Sustainable Parks is BIG and will see it established as an international visitor destination and a national beacon in Green Energy Technology, changing people’s view of energy. It will be a flagship sustainability project, providing future opportunities for a wide range of people and linking green technologies with old energy production – making energy history. The Park’s new Visitor Centre and improved facilities are a massive first step to achieving this.”

“The construction of the Visitor Centre has already helped the local economy through employing Kent companies and, through encouraging new visitors and employment opportunities, it will continue to provide much needed support for the area creating over 1,000 jobs during its 3 phases of development. It’s predicted the new development will generate £6.2m for the local economy.”

The second phase of development for Betteshanger Sustainable Parks will include Betteshanger Business, a bespoke green technologies business and education park of exemplary ‘low carbon’ buildings for companies in food security, environmental technology and green business. This more than a project, it is a fundamental shift in how business operates.

To find out more about the project and to register your interest in receiving information about its development visit betteshanger.wpengine.com