Today the team behind Ad Gefrin announce that they have now received the final go ahead for the highly anticipated visitor experience and bespoke whisky distillery development in North Northumberland. There could not be a better start to 2021 for all involved and the Wooler Community!

Despite all that has happened in the past year, the core Ad Gefrin team has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure that when this moment came, they could hit the ground running. This means that work on Ad Gefrin can start immediately, and North East contractors Brims Construction Ltd, have now moved onsite.

This will make Ad Gefrin the first project in the Borderlands Programme for Northumberland to break ground. Ad Gefrin has received £3m from the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal which is funded through the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and has also received £1m from the North East Rural Growth Network – Strategic Economic Infrastructure Fund (SEIF) through the North East LEP, and £600k through Northumberland County Council.

These successful funding bids show the project has gained supporters with the promise of a resurgence to Northumberland tourism, an exporter trade boost, and environmental considerations integrating the site into the surrounding landscape.

Located in Wooler on the edge of the Northumberland National Park, this exciting and innovative multi-million-pound regeneration project plans to deliver economic growth to the local and wider communities of Glendale. Those living within, passing through or visiting this outstanding area of the county will see the new visitor experience start to take shape during 2021 with the opening expected in Autumn 2022.

Commenting on the exciting news, Eileen Ferguson said, “We have never doubted that we could fulfil our vision to create a world class visitor destination in this beautiful county. The people of Glendale haven’t doubted either. Throughout everything we have continued to be overwhelmed by everyone’s good wishes – even when it looked on the surface as if progress was slow to the point of coming to a halt. We can’t thank everyone enough.

“We really want to thank all those who have worked so hard to get us to this point. We especially wish to thank Northumberland County Council and their officers who have given so much support to the development of Ad Gefrin. We hope this news lifts everyone’s spirits and means we can all start 2021 on a real high looking forward to much better times ahead.”

Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Luke Hall MP said:

“It’s fantastic that work can now begin on a new multimillion pound visitor centre and distillery at Ad Gefrin – a hugely important site showcasing Northumberland’s heritage.” 

“The new centre and distillery, backed by £3 million investment from the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, will provide a magnet for tourism as well as an important export boost for the region.”

“We’re levelling up across the country by investing in projects which create jobs and drive economic growth, making our regions great places to live, work and visit.”

Also delighted, Glen Sanderson, Leader of Northumberland County Council commented: “This is extremely welcome news which will bring more jobs, investment and visitors to this beautiful part of our county. We’ve worked so hard behind the scenes to support this fantastic project and we’re looking forward to seeing construction start imminently and hopefully open for business by the end of next year.”

With the ambition to create upwards of 50 FTE new jobs, this funding approval will help revitalise the rural economy in the Glendale valley and couldn’t have come at a better time to support a COVID-19 recovery. Tourism is a key economic driver for Northumberland and will likely be boosted by the expanding market for UK staycation tourism.  Ad Gefrin will showcase Northumberland’s unique Anglo-Saxon heritage and celebrate its ancient hospitality alongside the very best arts, crafts and produce the county offers today, as well as re-awakening a 200-year-old local tradition for whisky distilling, bringing a much-needed boost to the valley’s economy and wider region come 2022.

Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Ad Gefrin is one of the most important economic and tourist developments for many years in North Northumberland and will undoubtedly boost economic activity in Wooler and the wider Glendale community. 

“I am delighted that funds from our Local Growth Fund have been invested by the Rural Growth Network into a second iconic development on the fringe of Northumberland National Park, complementing The Sill, on Hadrian’s Wall. The development team are congratulated on their vision and commitment to deliver this unique scheme on this highly visible gateway site into Wooler and The Cheviots.

Tony Gates, Chief Executive of Northumberland National Park, responded to today’s announcement: “This is exciting news for North Northumberland and for tourism and heritage in the county more generally.

“To have a new visitor destination which will foster rural economic growth and which reflects the rich heritage of our landscape at a key gateway to Northumberland National Park is a significant boost for the area. The Ferguson family’s vision and passion for the landscape and heritage of Glendale will come to life at Ad Gefrin, symbolising the unique qualities of Northumberland in more ways than one. I wish the project every success and we in Northumberland National Park look forward to working closely with Ad Gefrin to showcase the best of this special place.”