New age for stone centre

Rebranding the Stone Centre, trustees David Haspel and Mike Ratcliffe
Rebranding the Stone Centre, trustees David Haspel and Mike Ratcliffe

A charity is appealing for volunteer help after hitting the rocks.

The National Stone Centre, in Middleton, has been forced to sell off part of its land in order to pay off the debts it has accumulated over the past few years.

Now the principle trustees of the attraction, Mike Ratcliffe and David Haspel, claim the only way is up.

Mike said: “The financial circumstance we found ourselves in has now been resolved by an agreement with Derbyshire County Council to sell the land on which the Eco Centre is built.”

The pair have now come up with a master plan to ensure the centre’s survival, which starts with renaming it ‘The Rocks Community Park’.

“We are going to concentrate out activities south of the High Peak Trail in the area surrounding the Discovery Centre,” Mike continued.

“What we hope to bring about is a new tourist and family orientated activity centre but with the story of stone.”

There are two busy walking routes through the 50 acre site – the High Peak Trail and the Old Lane.

David said: “100,000 people a year go up and down the High Peak Trail – that’s within 100 metres of our Discovery Centre.”

In order to bring their plans to life, the park will need volunteer help to carry out tasks such as site maintenance, assisting with education activities, stone wall repairs and developing activities.

The enterprising pair want to move the centre’s cafe to a more prominent position in order to attract more passing trade.

They also want to create activities for visitors to enjoy and plan to invite stone sculptures to display their work in the park.

Mike and David have come up with the idea of letting out office space to small businesses.

“We have got seven or eight offices and we could offer a receptionist and telephone answering service,” David explained.

Anyone interested in volunteering at The Rocks Community Park, or letting office space, can call Mike on 01629 523023 or 07581862683.