The Minsmere Discover Nature Project took another huge step forwards this week as we re-opened the visitor centre yesterday. It looks great, and we've had many positive comments, despite a few little things not being completely finished yet.
On arrival in the car park you'll now see a stunning totem and new information sign at the top of the access ramp. At the bottom of the ramp, the new reception building is much more welcoming than the old entrance, with a fully glass front and rear, new information boards, and our smiling team of staff and volunteers. Here you'll find all the information you need to plan your day at Minsmere - a large map, a flat screen TV (kindly donated by Hughes Electrical in Southwold) and sightings information.
From the reception, there's a short corridor into the stunning new shop, which has all the great products you'd expect to find in an RSPB Shop - bird food, feeders, nestboxes, binoculars, telescopes, books, outdoor clothing, cards, gifts and more. At the far end of the building, the cafe is more than doubled in size, with a completely fresh look, while outside we've improved the seating area with surfaced paths to all benches.
The toilet block has been completely upgraded. Regular visitors have commented that we've bricked up the doors, which is true, because the block has been effectively turned around to provide direct access from the new reception (although this door is currently closed while some final work is completed so access is currently via the shop and reserve access path.
We're excited about some of the green technology that's been installed too. Two huge 6000 litre tanks have been buried beneath the picnic area. These will store rainwater, collected from the visitor centre roof, which is then used to flush the toilets. This grey water ensures we considerably reduce our water usage, which is vital during the current drought, especailly as Suffolk is the driest part of the UK. We also have solar hot water panels on both the toilets and visitor centre, helping us to heat the building more efficiently. The toilet extractor fans are also powered by solar energy, while light tunnels in the toilet block roof utilise natural light to reduce the need for artificial lighting.
Work is still continuing to complete the new Discovery Centre and Wild Zone, our exciting facilities for schools and families, which are scheduled to open in mid April. More details to follow when these are ready.
The new cafe (above) and shop by Adam Rowlands
The new reception building
Tell Nat & Jack to get the stickers ready, we'll be in Saturday!!!!!! :)
Excellent facility. Hope to visit soon.