New visitor facilities open in Hardwick Stableyard after £6.5 million transformation

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THIS week saw the official opening of the National Trust’s Hardwick Stableyard at Hardwick by his Grace, the Duke of Devonshire, along with Dame Fiona Reynolds, director general of the National Trust.

The Duke of Devonshire said “I am delighted to be here today, to see the culmination of four years of hard work by the National Trust to bring the Stableyard buildings back to life and secure their future. I have personally followed this project with great interest, from the point of view of the restoration of heritage buildings using traditional skills and craftsmanship, and the fact that these buildings were built by my family. Once again, these buildings will serve the Hardwick Estate for many generations.”

Buildings within the former stableyard have undergone a massive £6.5 million transformation to create new visitor facilities, which include a restaurant and shops.

The Stableyard project has been funded by a range of organisations. The initial grant from East Midlands Tourism (part of the former organisation East Midlands Development Agency) funded the re-roofing of the buildings. This inspired other organisations to recognise the potential in the Stableyard restoration. Derbyshire Economic Partnership came on board for the whole of the project, with English Heritage and Heritage Lottery Fund funding restoration works. Other organisations have funded specific elements such as CSEP funding the Biomass Boiler and Ironmongery Company providing grant money for the ironmongery on the doors. Thanks to funding from Bolsover and North East Derbyshire LEADER the visitor centre has become an information point for the area helping to generate further tourism to surrounding attractions.

As one of the major funders Derbyshire Economic Partnership have provided a focus upon regenerating the East Midlands economy, in response to this Hardwick Stableyard has been able to create over 14 full time equivalent jobs within the new development.

Speaking at the opening Fiona Reynolds said: “It’s a real pleasure to be at Hardwick today and witness the extraordinary transformation of the historic stableyard buildings into first class visitor facilities. These fabulous new facilities will enable Hardwick to provide a year round attraction, helping everyone experience the wonderful parkland as well as its internationally important house and gardens. We are very grateful to all those who helped fund this project, which will be providing new jobs for local people and stimulating the local economy by attracting many more people to see this beautiful part of Derbyshire.”

Contemporary interiors have been installed within historical structures. The Great Barn restaurant, seating up to 130 people inside (and 50 outside), has a relaxed and modern feel offering a wide range of seasonal food and drink in light and airy surroundings with fabulous views. The Stables shop includes the book room with a wood burning stove for visitors to warm themselves by whilst browsing, and the Plant and Outdoor shop will include local produce and plants nurtured and grown on the Hardwick estate.

The Stableyard boasts energy saving technologies such as a Biomass boiler which will provide heating and hot water to the buildings as well as rain water collection systems and solar panels. All materials from the alterations during the refurbishment have been reused. Extra stone required has been quarried locally, some at Hardwick, to reduce the carbon footprint of the work.

Furthermore, the project has made use of local suppliers and the skills of local craftsmen and apprentices. The Hardwick Masons have also been involved in the renovation of the Stableyard. Hardwick’s Master Mason Trevor Hardy said “The masons at Hardwick would have originally been part of the team who built this site, it is fitting that this generation of Hardwick masons have been involved in restoring it.”