National Stone Centre reimagined as mining museum plans to join it
Following last year’s merger of the Institute of Quarrying (IQ) with the National Stone Centre (NSC) in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, changes are progressing rapidly.
The Peak District Mining Museum is relocating to the NSC and a Derbyshire-based architect, Babenko Associates, has been appointed to reimagine the 42-acre site.
A public consultation about the proposed new vision takes place on Saturday (9 April) at the National Stone Centre starting at 9am. Draft proposals showing what the site could look like will be presented and will remain on display at the NSC until the end of May.
Babenko Associates is based just a stone’s throw from the National Stone Centre on Porter Lane in Wirksworth. It won a three-way pitch to representatives of the IQ and NSC trustees.
Viv Russell, who chairs IQ, says: “The Institute has a driving ambition to realise the potential of the NSC and create a new home for IQ.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity to create a hugely exciting new visitor centre that celebrates the extraordinary role that stone plays in all of our lives.
“The existing building has limited potential for development, so we invited ideas from a small group of local architects to come up with their own vision for a new national stone centre.
“All three gave us a lot of food for thought, but ultimately the team at Babenko Associates really captured our imagination with their ideas around construction materials, sustainability, and use of space.
“In addition, we want the NSC to continue to grow as part of the vibrant local community. Employing a partner that can be on site in minutes and also understands the nuances of the local area is a huge benefit to us.”
Gabriel Babenko of Babenko Associates heads a multi-skilled team of professionals who have worked in the construction industry for over 30 years. He says: “The National Stone Centre is a bit of a local landmark, so we jumped at the opportunity to present our ideas to provide the Centre with a new home, as well as office and meeting accommodation for the IQ and its members.”
He described the site as “a real hidden gem, with stunning views and an industrial legacy of past quarrying”. He said his practice would be fine-tuning its ideas for the site over the next couple of months with a big reveal planned for the project later in the year.
IQ is relocating to temporary buildings on the site in Wirksworth and the National Stone Centre remains open as usual.
As for the move of the Peak District Mining Museum to the site from its present location in nearby Matlock Bath, Viv Russell says: “When we announced the merger of IQ and NSC last summer and outlined our plans to redevelop the NSC, it got us noticed by the directors of the Peak District Mining Museum, who approached us for further exploratory conversations about a possible move. It’s still early days, but it feels like there’s a real energy and enthusiasm for this to work.”
Clare Herbert, the museum’s Manager, says: “We are quite literally just down the road from the National Stone Centre, so a move to the IQ’s proposed ‘centre of excellence’ for quarrying and mineral products would be a perfect fit for us. It would also enable us to realise the ambition we have for the museum and collection, while remaining embedded in the Derbyshire mining communities from which we draw our inspiration.”
The National Stone Centre opened in 1990 to inspire people to engage with the origin, industry and history of stone extraction in the county and across the country. It sits in six former limestone quarries the constitute a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). IQ’s vision of creating a knowledge centre for the industry will result in a destination that can be used by the stone and minerals industries to engage stakeholders vital to the continuing success of the sector.