The long-awaited rise from the ashes of Northamptonshire's tourist attraction and heritage destination Chester House Estate is on track.
Phase two of the much anticipated £14.5m Chester House Estate project has been completed in advance of the site’s planned opening in October.
The farm, located off the A45 close to Irchester overlooking a site between Wellingborough and Rushden, has overcome a catastrophic fire and financial set backs.
Championed by the now disbanded Northamptonshire County Council, the second phase of the project has been joint funded by North Northamptonshire Council, West Northamptonshire Council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Business manager Jack Pishhorn said: “We’ve got a fantastic team of volunteers who are building bespoke furniture, a bar for the events space and fixtures that will beautifully furnish and compliment the buildings.
"It’s now all hands on deck to furnish the buildings and welcome the tenants into the courtyard, with the likes of Saxby’s Cider, a farm shop, My Little Vintage and the Chester House gift shop all set to move in.
“We’re especially excited to be welcoming our educational partners including Moulton College, University of Leicester and the Creating Tomorrow Multi Academy Trust who will all have bases here to utilise the visitor and educational opportunities that will be available on site.
“It really does feel like we’re on the home stretch now.”
The Chester House Estate project has been supported by a grant of £3,967,200 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and a further £719,700 from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage.
In May, the county's extensive state-of-the-art Northamptonshire Archaeological Resource Centre (ARC) opened to staff and researchers where thousands of boxes of artefacts from county excavations are to be housed.
The second phase of the project has included the completion of the Artisan Courtyard, Learning and Community Centre and events barn, with the third and final phase, the 17th Century Grade II farmhouse, restaurant and bed and breakfast, well on track to be completed in time for the opening of the site in October.
Cllr Helen Howe, North Northamptonshire Council executive member for sport, leisure, culture and tourism, said: “It’s great news that the next phase of the project has been completed. This phase will be of particular benefit to local residents with a farm shop and local producers on site, offering a real taste of Northamptonshire to everyone who visits.
“We are all really delighted to be in the final stages of this project and can't wait to share it with you all. It will bring another great tourist attraction along the river Nene, to North Northamptonshire.”
Cllr Jason Smithers, leader of North Northamptonshire Council, said: “I am delighted that the second phase of the project has been completed and look forward to seeing the courtyard and events spaces when they have been fully furnished.
"The Learning and Community Department will be a huge asset to the wider Northants community.”
With an opening date of October half-term, the final phase of the project will be the completion of the 17th Century Grade II* listed farmhouse which will house a restaurant and bed and breakfast accommodation.
The restaurant will serve local produce and cater for events held in the new events space, as well as provide accommodation for wedding parties and tourists to the area.
Visitors will get free entry to the site that boasts continuous occupation going back more than 10,000 years.
For more information on the Chester House Estate project, sign up to the newsletter at www.chesterhouseestate.org.