Nobel prize-winning scientist puts Northumberlandia under the microscope

July 6, 2012 | Community News

One of the world’s best-known and most respected scientists has paid a visit to the north east to see progress with the Banks Group’s construction of Northumberlandia the region’s newest landmark.

Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Dr James Watson, who together with Francis Crick discovered the double helix structure of DNA almost 60 years ago, was a guest of fellow scientist Viscount Ridley, on whose Blagdon Estate the figure resides.

Dr Watson and his wife Liz, who are also friends of Northumberlandia’s designer, Charles Jencks, took a tour around the one hundred feet-high figure, and came up with a new idea for how she might be used when she opens to the public.

James Watson, who was also the first head of the groundbreaking Human Genome Project, said: “It’s far better even than I expected – it’ll look great when work on the project is finished later this year, and would be a perfect location for shooting a film or television mystery thriller.”

The Blagdon Estate and regional developer the Banks Group are investing around £3m in the creation of the landform and adjacent water bodies, which form the centrepiece of a 47-acre public park being built on estate land that will be managed by The Land Trust as an amenity for the local community and an attraction for visitors to the region.

It has been designed to provide a lasting legacy for both the local area and the wider region, alongside the significant employment and economic contributions that is already made to them through the Banks’ Shotton Surface Mine, from which the material used to create the landform has been taken and without which the project could not have been developed.

Landscaping work on what is the world’s largest human landform is scheduled to be finished later this year, and when the park opens to the public, it will contain more than two and a half miles of surfaced paths and over one and a half miles of grass paths. 

Northumberlandia alone is more than seven times the size of the pitch at St James’ Park, is taller than an eight-storey building at its highest point and takes more than 20 minutes to walk around.

Katie Perkin communications manager at the Banks Group adds: “It’s a real honour to have hosted such an eminent figure at Northumberlandia, and we’re very pleased that she left a positive impression.”

Viscount Ridley says: “Dr Watson has been at the centre of some amazing scientific landmarks for more than six decades, and it was a pleasure to be able to show him and Mrs Watson our own region’s latest landmark.”

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