Special celebrations to mark nature reserve’s 40th anniversary

Mayor Norma Redfearn, Young Mayor Oscar Daniel and pupils from Cullercoats Primary School plant the commemorative cherry tree at Marden Quarry nature reserve.
Mayor Norma Redfearn, Young Mayor Oscar Daniel and pupils from Cullercoats Primary School plant the commemorative cherry tree at Marden Quarry nature reserve.

A former quarry reclaimed by nature over the years has marked a special anniversary.

Vast reserves of magnesium limestone were excavated from Marden Quarry, in Whitley Bay, from when the land was first leased for quarrying in 1684.

Pupils from Cullercoats Primary School plant bulbs at Marden Quarry nature reserve as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations.

Pupils from Cullercoats Primary School plant bulbs at Marden Quarry nature reserve as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations.

When work ended, the enormous hole gradually filled with water until it was 40ft deep in 1961.

At the time, the then Duke of Northumberland agreed to handover the land free of charge to the former Whitley Bay Borough Council.

In return, a guarantee was made that it would only be used for leisure purposes.

Work began to turn it into a nature reserve, with hardcore dumped into the pond and an outlet created to reduce the water level from 40ft to four feet.

Islands were created to attract new bird life, and the park was officially opened by HRH Princess Margaret on November 22, 1977.

Now local schoolchildren have taken part in an event to mark the park’s 40th anniversary and leave their own lasting legacy.

On Wednesday, around 60 children from Year 2 at Cullercoats Primary School planted bulbs in the park, while Young Mayor Oscar Daniel planted a tree, joined by students at Marden High School.

Mayor Norma Redfearn planted a commemorative cherry tree alongside the plaque marking the official opening.

She said: “This is a little haven in the borough.

“I hope lots more people come to enjoy the beauty and the peace of this facility.

“It’s nice to see the children here planting the bulbs, learning more about the wildlife and nature.

“Marden Quarry is another green space for children to enjoy, see the wildlife, watch the plants grow and learn about the environment.

“People came come and meet Craig, the park warden, to explain what goes on here.”

Today, the park is an important nature reserve, with the large wildfowl lake supporting breeding birds such as the mute swan, mallard, moorhen, coot, tufted duck and seasonal migrating birds.