A NEW cafe and visitor centre have been officially opened in Prudhoe.

Northumberland County Council awarded the lease to operate the cafe at Tyne Riverside Country Park in Low Prudhoe to St Camillus Group, which provides job coaching and education to young people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions.

The building now also holds a visitor centre which has been kitted out with interpretive displays, which is one of three heritage centres created by the Land of Oak & Iron project, which works to celebrate the area surrounding the Derwent Valley. On Tuesday a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to declare the centre officially open.

John Rundle, chair of the board at the Land of Oak & Iron, said: “Prudhoe is one of the gateways to all that the Land of Oak & Iron has to offer.

“Steeped with history, heritage and natural habitats to explore, the area offers something for everyone. It’s fantastic that the cafe at Tyne Riverside Country Park is now open, and I’m sure it’ll provide the perfect opportunity for people to relax after or fuel up before a full and exciting day of exploring the area.”

The Land of Oak & Iron project is hosted by Groundwork NE & Cumbria and supported by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The building, which was built in the 19th century and has had a variety of uses, had been vacant since being damaged in the 2015 floods. The cafe area has now been fully refurbished with a new kitchen, servery and furniture. It is being overseen by Holly Kelleher, head of learning and business development for St Camillus Group, with the project aiming to support young people to learn in live work environments, which are also commercial businesses.

The opening of the cafe has so far generated ten paid jobs, with six of these going to people with autism and learning difficulties.

Prudhoe North county councillor Ken Stow said: “I am very pleased to see, after a very long period of closure, that the cafe is back in use. It’s good to see it being run by such a worthwhile organisation. I look forward to seeing it go from strength to strength.”