A new chapter in the legendary woodland home of Robin Hood has begun with the foundation-laying of new visitor centre and “gateway” to Sherwood Forest.
Work officially began on the multi-million pound centre, which it is hoped will inspire more than 35,000 annual visitors to the historic forest, on Tuesday.
Councillors, residents and pupils from St Mary’s school gathered to learn more about the facility, which will include interactive information about Robin Hood and wildlife, along with a shop, café, amphitheatre and play area.
The £5m project is being built by a consortium led by the RSPB, on behalf of and in partnership with Nottinghamshire County Council, who currently manage the site and have invested more than £4 million in the scheme.
Shaun Thomas, operations director at RSPB, said:“Our vision is more than just a five year plan, or even ten year plan.
“It’s about helping the forest flourish for the next generation, and the generation after that.
“The visitor centre has been a long time in the planning, but now the fun can begin as we watch the building start to take shape.
“It’s going to be a fantastic gateway to this beautiful forest, helping visitors make connections with its nature and heritage.
“There are so many stories to be told, and so many stories to come.”
Councillor John Handley, chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “We are delighted to continue to be part of this iconic forest.
“It’s a new era for Sherwood - for Robin Hood, the community and for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to explore this historic site each year.”
When the new building opens in the Summer of 2018 at its new position in Forest Corner, the current 1970’s visitor centre and car parks will be removed, and the site where they stand “returned to nature”.
Ross Frazer, the RSPB’s project manager, said: “We’re so excited to start work at the new Sherwood Forest visitor centre.
“It’s a privilege to be custodians of the Robin Hood legacy, to continue the traditions of this ancient legend and to tell it afresh to new generations.”
Find out more about the project by visiting the new website at www.visitsherwood.co.uk