Adrian Oates, Head of Fundraising

Earlier this year the Nenescape Landscape Partnership Scheme was officially wound up at the final Project Board meeting at Chester House. The Evaluation Report to the funder – the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) - was signed off for submission, we talked about what each organisation had learnt and what might be next, then the Chair dissolved the Board and we all stepped down.

It struck me that this was quite a significant occasion. The end of an amazingly successful project involving 18 partners, 12 sites, 7 years £5 million spent, £2.8million funding from NLHF, 5 core team members, 3 Chairs, 2 pronunciations of “Nene”, one river valley and a pandemic to contend with.

The Nenescape vision was “a healthy and resilient river Nene, where the local wildlife prospers alongside agricultural and recreational activities. The landscape's industrial, cultural and archaeological legacies are shared and valued by those living and working in the Nene Valley, and opportunities to learn about and manage the heritage and the local environment are accessible and plentiful.” All along the river valley we must have done something right as it is being talked about as a great example of a Landscape Partnership.

This success has a lot to do with the fantastic management and coordination by the core project team at Nene Rivers Trust, but also thanks to the amazing teamwork within the partner organisations. Nene Park Trust was the largest partner in terms of project size, complexity and cost, and we pulled it off together brilliantly. It amazes me to think about how much we have delivered over the 7 years of the project:

  • The Geophysical Survey of Coney Meadow at the start of the project – an insight into the history that lies under the ground.
  • The Heritage Audit of Nene Park - A fascinating technical document written by the Nene Valley Archaeological Trust (NVAT) detailing all the amazing heritage across our landholding.
  • Bluebell Wood Boardwalk - largely hand built by NPT volunteers who now see it as “their” boardwalk!
  • Four Heritage Trails – the leaflets are flying off the shelves at our Visitor Centre.
  • Digital interpretation and online trail guides – giving our visitors the opportunity to go back in history through their phone and have their photo taken with Roman soldiers.
  • Castor Station Master's Garden – once an overgrown plot that now has a new lease of life as a communal space.
  • Gateway Art at Orton Mere – collaborating with the Rivers of the World project to display colourful banners created by local schools.
  • Bringing Nature Closer – habitat restoration on Heron and Goldie Meadows. It is stunning to see the meadows alive with birds whenever they flood.
  • Nenescape Apprentices – we are very proud of being able to give our apprentices a meaningful start to their career.
  • The Nenescape celebration event – a wonderful afternoon in 2019 promoting the project and giving thanks to everyone involved.
  • Supporting the creation of the nenevalley.net website – giving visitors a one-stop-shop to find out about everything on offer along the river valley.
  • A write up of the archaeological excavations at Durobrivae - still being written by our friends at NVAT, delayed due to Covid, but certain to become a key academic text!
  • Romans in the Nene Valley – expertly written by Dr Stephen Upex. A bestseller at our Visitor Centre.
  • The gates across the land at Durobrivae at the very end of the project – helping people on guided tours explore the area.

And that was just the project elements that Nene Park Trust was involved with. Similar activities were replicated across the project partnership. But then there was also the other opportunities that Nenescape provided to Nene Park Trust:

  • Training courses – including some excellent and memorable training opportunities.
  • Providing opportunities to host project launch events – in every weather, even very cold days!
  • Modernising our interpretation and creating a consistent style for new interpretation boards across the park
  • Putting project evaluation into practice and writing evaluation reports
  • Building strong and lasting partnerships with organisations close by, along the Nene Valley and elsewhere
  • Preparing and delivering presentations and creating, starring in and editing project-related videos.
  • Being part of the Final Project Conference in Northampton and Peterborough - a great event organised with the usual Nenescape skill.

And all of this – the many project elements and the extra opportunities - was made available in return for a relatively small financial contribution and our staff time (admittedly lots of staff time). Excellent value for money, I hope you agree. It has been wonderful to see Nenescape make such a fundamental difference to Nene Park, especially our ability to conserve and celebrate our outstanding heritage assets, and it has really boosted our aims and expectations for our heritage and conservation work going forward.