Thomas Hardy's birthplace transformation begins

Dorset Echo: An artist's impression of the new Thomas Hardy birthplace visitor centre An artist's impression of the new Thomas Hardy birthplace visitor centre

WORK to transform Thomas Hardy’s birthplace will start this week.

Plans to develop the visitor centre and educational trails in Higher Bockhampton were given the green light last year.

The £949,000 project is a partnership between Dorset County Council and the National Trust and is expected to open next summer.

It will be partially funded by a grant of £495,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Other grants have come from the Hardy Society, Garfield Weston Trust, the Fine Family Foundation, the Kinsurdy Trust and the National Trust.

It is hoped that the centre, which will replace the Dorset countryside rangers’ cabin on the edge of Thorncombe Wood, will provide an ‘interactive’ experience for visitors.

It will have space for school and community groups to use as well as a small catering area with toilets and some retail space. There will also be space for the countryside rangers.

Cllr Hilary Cox, Dorset County Council's Cabinet member for environment, said: “The county council, by working together with the National Trust, can achieve an approach that will improve the access and experience both for tourists and local residents.

“It will improve the way that our countryside service manages the ancient woodland at Thorncombe Wood and the associated heathland.”



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