Our Story

Our Story Banner

Scrappy NW

From humble beginnings...

The Lancashire Wildlife Trust has been working on developing Brockholes for nearly 30 years! It has been a long and ultimately rewarding journey that has seen the land develop from a huge quarrying site into the vibrant nature reserve that it is today.

Key Landmarks


The Lancashire Wildlife Trust first contested the quarrying of Brockholes.

November 2006

The Lancashire Wildlife Trust had four weeks to raise £50,000 to buy the Brockholes site and protect it from development.

January 2007

The Lancashire Wildlife Trust made the biggest land purchase in its history – thanks to donations from Wildlife Trust members, and an investment of £800,000 from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) under the Newlands scheme.  

The project to buy and develop Brockholes was also supported by The Tubney Charitable Trust.

July 2007

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) announced the launch of a new open competition to design Brockholes new visitor centre.

25 February 2008 

The Lancashire Wildlife Trust and partners announced the winner of its competition to design a visitor facility. 

Adam Khan Architects was selected for its inspirational design concept entitled A Floating World.

Designed as a cluster of buildings constructed largely of wood and other sustainable materials, it resembles an ancient marshland village.

April 2008 

The Trust announced the completion of its first phase of preparatory work, including the restoration of the wetlands, creation of ponds, seeding of meadows, planting new hedgerows and trees, making access paths and building bird watching hides.

March 2009 

Lancashire Wildlife Trust secured £8million of funding from the North West Regional Development Agency (NWDA).

Summer 2009

Our amazing Volunteers gave us up over 100 hours of their time to help propagate 20,000 of our own reed seedlings on-site, around the new visitor centre.

August 2009

The Lancashire Wildlife Trust was granted detailed planning permission for the site.

December 2009

Contractors began to construct the iconic floating visitor centre. 

November 2010

A herd of longhorn cattle moved into Brockholes to graze the reserve.

March 2011

Brockholes made history as the Visitor Village is floated for the first time!

Easter Sunday 2011

Brockholes opened its doors to the public for the first time.

Spring 2012

Brockholes won a record breaking three RIBA awards including ‘North West Building of the Year’.

August 2012 

Brockholes hosted its very first wedding. As of July 2019, 118 happy couples had tied the knot here!

November 2013 

Brockholes won the Best Conference/Meeting Venue of the Year at the highly prestigious Lancashire Tourism Awards.

April 2014

We had eight bird species including curlew, oystercatcher and avocet breeding on No 1 Pit, making it one of the country’s leading sites for such activity.

Winter 2014/15

Five different types of heron were recorded on the reserve – little egret, grey heron, great white egret, night heron and bittern – impressive for any site here in the UK.

April 2016 

Brockholes celebrated its 5th birthday with a fantastic day-long party open to all… and a cake!

May 2016

Brockholes had Lancashire’s first recorded sighting of the (very rare) pallid harrier!

August 2016 

The Tesco Bags of Help scheme funded our much-loved Wind in the Willows Trail.

April 2017 

Countryfile came a-calling to film our brown hares for Easter.

June 2017 

Brockholes was named ‘Best Hospitality Venue of the Year’ at the Lancashire Business Awards!

September 2017

We welcomed our one millionth visitor, awarding them a Lifetime Visitor Pass.

October 2017 

Prince Harry visited Brockholes to meet the young people taking part in the Myplace project.

April 2019

Wedding Awards Trophy

Alice Singleton

Brockholes Wedding's won the 'Best Venue by the Water' award at the Great Northern Wedding Awards. Coming up against popular Lake District locations, the team were incrediblly proud of this accolade and stunning trophy.

Read more here

May 2019

KK 2019

Tom Cowburn

The Reedbest Restaurant was rebranded as the Kestrel Kitchen. Inside, the eating area was given a lick of paint and new menus put on tables, with a much brighter and green atmosphere inside.

March 2020

As the whole world was given the news of the coronavirus pandemic, it was decided Brockholes would pull its drawbridge up and close the car park for the safety of our staff and visitors. For four long months, the reserve was closed to drivers and only accessible on-foot, while the Government encouraged people to 'stay at home'.

Our wonderful conservation team, Lorna and Tom, took care of the reserve and the grazing cattle, while the rest of our staff were either working from home or furloughed in order to prepare for a sharp drop in funds. The small team we had worked incredibly hard, and those who were furloughed helped to ensure the reserve could survive the difficult (what turned out to be) year.

On July 4th, 2020, the Kestrel Kitchen reopened for a take away only service. All tables were taken out of the inside and a one-way system was set up to ensure social distancing was maintained in all areas. 

In this period, until November 2020, we hosted micro-weddings, as per Government guidance, which varied from ceremony only with only three guests, to 15 guests, 30 guests, and being able to have a wedding-breakfast, or not. With constantly changing rules and guidance, our staff did an incredible job keeping on-top of everything and ensured all visitors had the best possible Brockholes experience given the circumstances.

In December 2020, we were lucky to be able to host Santa Meet and Greet, against the odds, which was wonderful. To see children excited about Christmas in a less-than-ideal year was a really heart warming moment.