Our Story

We have quite a history

The main building is Victorian and was built in 1882 as the village primary school. The current centre was established in 1973, making excellent use of the school site. Sadly, in March 2013 the centre was threatened with closure due to council funding cuts. The local community decided to establish a social enterprise, and DMBC agreed an initial 10 year lease, to continue to offer an outdoor education facility for local schools. The nature reserve behind the centre was donated by Hanson Aggregates and is managed by The Mosaic Trust, so that its well established habitats could be protected for wildlife and made available for future generations to enjoy and learn about the environment. During the 50 years of quarrying activity much of the area has regenerated into heathland which, combined with the untouched existing woodlands, offer a superb and safe area to study the natural environment. The village itself was mentioned in the Doomsday Book and was the birthplace of William Bradford (Pilgrim Father) who sailed on the Mayflower Ship to America.

Where we are today

In 2015 a grant of £50,000 was received from Wren (now FCC Environmental) to refurbish the main part of the old school house which then become the William Bradford Room - a warm, welcoming community space for all occasions. Having spent an additional £15,000 of our reserves to remedy some unexpected structural problems, any further renovation plans had to be deferred since our savings were depleted and further grant money for such work proved elusive. More recently however many other improvements have been taking place on site to give it a real feel-good factor, whilst prolonging the life of some of the older buildings. The refurbishment work commenced early in 2016 and was led by a local retired teacher whose excellent design and woodworking skills also provided us with a traverse wall and bird hide. This work was supported by several groups of volunteers – one from the Green Tree Pub in Hatfield and three groups of students from the National Citizenship Scheme, plus a few local school pupils as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award volunteering work.

What does the future look like for Austerfield

We don't believe in standing still and are always looking for ways to improve our facilities and also seeking the funding to achieve this. Our long term plan is to save enough money to redesign some of the older less-functional areas, and with this in mind we have had some early plans drawn up.