The new Millennium signified changes for the Dry Stone Walling Association, which recognised a need to find a permanent base from which to operate. From the beginning the Association had shared office space with other organisations or used private homes and it was now time to have its own space.
Having looked at possible locations, we were fortunate to find the office at the Westmorland County Showground, which met our requirements of being fairly central within the country and accessible to the main motorway network. The area also had a strong walling tradition. A project application was prepared and we were very fortunate to secure funding from the Cumbria Fells and Dales LEADER+ programme in order to develop the Dry Stone Walling Centre.
The project had two main strands to it. Firstly we wanted to highlight the importance of walls within the landscape and to explain how the geology of an area affected the type of stone and how this was further reflected in the style of walling carried out. Secondly, a training facility would be developed where people could attend courses in the traditional skill of dry stone walling.
In order to demonstrate the variety of walls found within the landscape, a series of fourteen panels was constructed on the showground, running roughly north to south and depicting the different stones and the styles of walling. Stone was sourced from each different area and the wall panel built in the local style, often by the members local to a particular area. The panels are situated on the showground parallel to the Milnthorpe Road and line the pedestrian access route to the County Show, held each year in September. A full colour leaflet about the exhibit is available from the DSWA office.
Much of the work was carried out by members of the Association who donated their time and energy to the project. We were also very grateful to the corporate members who generously donated much of the stone used in the building of the wall panels.
The Dry Stone Walling Centre was officially opened in April 2006 by Lord and Lady Cavendish. The event was attended by many who had helped with the work and who were able to enjoy a tour of the site and light refreshments.
The site is accessible for visitors although you are asked to contact the DSWA office prior to your visit, as the land is privately owned. The office also has copies of the leaflet and other publications available and is usually open Monday – Friday during office hours.