NZ2377 : Desolation to the north of Northumberlandia

taken 11 years ago, near to Nelson Village, Northumberland, England

Desolation to the north of Northumberlandia
Desolation to the north of Northumberlandia
Opencast mining site to the west of Cramlington seen from the forehead of "Northumberlandia". It is just possible to make out the Cheviot Hills, covered in snow, on the horizon.

"The world's largest human form sculpted into the landscape" LinkExternal link

A design by Charles Jencks LinkExternal link taking up the mantle as Northumberland's own Slartibartfast LinkExternal link

'Northumberlandia' is the name given to a slag heap from a vast opencast (or surface) coal mine near Cramlington, operated by the Banks Mining Group LinkExternal link which is being formed into a huge recumbent female figure, designed by artist, Charles Jencks LinkExternal link

The land-form sculpture will be roughly 400m long, 200m wide and 34m high (the forehead being the highest point, in case you're asking), built with 1.5 million tonnes of material taken from above an estimated 5.4 million tons of coal reserves on the nearby surface mine. Lakes will be created around the base and the lady will eventually form the centrepiece for a new 14.5 hectare public park on the edge of urban Tyneside.

Both 'Slag Alice', as the figure is disparagingly known locally, and the mining itself, have been hugely controversial in the local area since a planning application was first received in 2004. Other names used have been 'Fat Slag' (after a character in the Geordie comic Viz), 'Big Bird' and the 'Goddess Of The North'.

Initially refused permission by the two Borough Councils and Northumberland County Council, the decision was challenged and overturned at appeal. Many see the development as an appeasement to the lobby against mining and a convenient way for the company to avoid having to move material back when completed.

'It doesn't matter how you dress it up it's still a slag heap', is how one describes it.

Privately funded by Blagdon Estate, the owners of the land, and the Banks Group it is hoped that the park with its iconic figure will provide a attraction in the area for tourists and local people who will be able to use the 6.5km network of paths around and upon the three dimensional land-form leading up to viewpoints at its highest points.

The park is expected to open in Summer 2013 and mining at the Shotton opencast site to continue until 2018.

Open days were arranged for public access in September 2012 and well attended. Children in particular appear to appreciate the maze of paths, viewing mounds and areas of grass and water.

Northumberlandia is now managed by The Land Trust, a national charity specialising in the care of green spaces. Involvement of Northumberland Wildlife Trust will ensure that the park matures and evolves over time for the benefit of wildlife rather than being a rigid manicured art form. I look forward to photos on Geograph that will suitably document this process in a previously under represented square in the coming years.

My first reaction to the open day visit on 9th September 2012: a little raw and not quite finished in places but brilliant concept and design. A new park on the edge of Cramlington that will be a sure hit with everyone in the area and particularly with the children. They wanted to follow each and every path and climb to all the viewpoints. Absolutely inspiring!

Charles Jencks: 'Northumberlandia' Green Goddess LinkExternal link

Some Landscapes - Northumberlandia LinkExternal link

Northumberlandia: The world’s largest human figure or “The Slag of the North”? LinkExternal link

Goddess with 100ft breasts to rival Angel of the North LinkExternal link

From a slag heap to a green goddess LinkExternal link

Giant naked goddess to be carved into hillside LinkExternal link

Travelogue of an Armchair Traveller LinkExternal link

Debate on Modern Antiquarian forum LinkExternal link

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Oliver Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Geographical Context: Quarrying, Mining other tags: Opencast Open Cast Workings Click a tag, to view other nearby images.
This photo is linked from: Automatic Clusters: · Forehead of Northumberlandia [11] · Opencast Mining [9] · North [6] ·
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
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NZ2377, 105 images   (more nearby 🔍)
Oliver Dixon   (more nearby)
Date Taken
Saturday, 2 February, 2013   (more nearby)
Monday, 4 February, 2013
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NZ 2347 7739 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:5.4236N 1:38.0292W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NZ 23702 77193
View Direction
Northwest (about 315 degrees)
Clickable map
W Go E
Image classification(about): Geograph
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