The Institute of Quarrying (IQ) has today (10 August) announced an agreement with the trustees of the National Stone Centre near Wirksworth in the Derbyshire Dales to create a world class visitor experience and an internationally significant Centre of Excellence for the quarrying and natural stone industry.
The National Stone Centre opened in 1990 to inspire people to engage with the origin, industry and the history of stone by using its museum and industrial heritage discovery centre, as well as visiting the six former limestone quarries on the 40-acre Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) that is home to the National Stone Centre. Now the Institute of Quarrying will provide the resources and capability required to further develop the Centre as a compelling visitor destination.
At the same time the site will become the new home of IQ, which is relocating there from its offices in Chilwell, Nottingham.
Martin Riley, President of IQ, explains: “As a membership organisation, IQ remains focussed on supporting and developing professionals in the industry. Moving to the NSC will put us in the heart of Derbyshire, where quarrying has a rich heritage and contributes £2.1billion gross value added (GVA) a year to the national economy (GDP).
“Relocating our offices to the NSC means we will be able to visibly demonstrate the compelling story of the industry; how it has evolved through its history to the high standards it operates to today and the valuable contribution it makes for local communities and the environment.
“The site also offers huge scope for additional membership value. The facilities available at the NSC provide new opportunities for us to expand our services for members and the quarrying and mineral products industry. As we settle in we will be encouraging members to visit us and, at the same time, enjoy a visit to the NSC.”
Ian Thomas, the original founder and director of the National Stone Centre, adds: “The aim of the NSC is to be a Centre of Excellence at national, regional and local scales, in all aspects relating to learning about stone and allied matters in the United Kingdom. The aim of IQ is to advance the science and practice of quarrying internationally in the interests of the public at large. By merging each organisation one can support the other in delivering on its respective ambitions.
“This is very much about building upon the 30-year legacy of the NSC. It’s about securing a bright and impactful future for the organisation, bringing lasting benefits in the form of personal development, awareness-raising, memorable experiences and local revenue growth. Plus, with support from the extractives sector, the NSC will move into a new era of success, driving forward the vision of its founders. I’m personally delighted that the Institute of Quarrying is now able to call the NSC its permanent home.”
The NSC provides an opportunity to inspire the future talent the stone industry needs to remain competitive and innovative. Through school visits to the museum and exhibitions the site helps children understand the science in geology, the natural environment and industrial heritage.
IQ’s vision of creating a knowledge centre for the industry will result in a destination that can be used by the industry to engage employees and other stakeholders vital to the future success of the sector.
This joint initiative gives the quarrying industry the ideal platform to add value with direct engagement with the general public. That in turn will enhance the experience already created by the NSC and provide a deeper understanding of the industry to the public at large.
Professor Iain Stewart, Patron of the NSC, adds: “I’m hugely passionate about how stone has shaped our world today. Securing the future of the NSC for future generations to experience and enjoy is fantastic news.”
The NSC relies on volunteers to operate and maintain the site. The current trustee board is dedicated and committed to the ongoing operation of the site and will continue to be the management board. IQ will provide additional strength to that board.
Sarah Dines, MP for Derbyshire Dales, says: “The National Stone Centre draws visitors from all over the UK. I'm delighted that this collaboration with the Institute of Quarrying will secure local jobs and deliver inward investment in what is a wonderful public asset. It will also be a draw for quarrying professionals and we offer a warm welcome to the team at the IQ.”