Discovery Centre - handover from Baxall and other news

Discovery Centre - handover from Baxall and other news
© Alan Leigh

We speak to Liz Grant, Rye Harbour Discovery Centre Manager, who gives us an update on what's been happening

It’s exciting that the handover of the Rye Harbour Discovery Centre from Baxall to Sussex Wildlife Trust has taken place recently. What does that mean exactly?

They literally handed over the keys. There are in fact a total of 60 keys for everything! Baxall were kind enough to label them all. Building and safety compliance are all signed off, along with the fire risk assessment. CCTV and all the alarms are fully operational.

We can now start putting in the fixtures and fittings – everything from cups to desks, chairs, phones and everything in between.

There are a lot of clever things in this building - one example is the water heater. It has a ‘learning mode’ so it will figure out when we’re here most and needing hot water.

LKC mockup websize

What news on the café?

The coffee machine has arrived and is up and running. We had an interesting and very caffeinated day of tasting!

We’ve had the first delivery of kitchenware, cups and pots etc.

We have lined up some great local suppliers who will be working with Leah our Café Manager to ensure we can deliver a great menu at the Lime Kiln Café.

The final stages of the café fit out will include the arrival of the café furniture at the beginning of May.

How about the shop?

It will sell wildlife-related gifts. Optics (binoculars), greetings cards, dog treat and gifts, local jams and apple juice. Field study guides, wildlife books, bird boxes.

Main Front View web

Will you have ice cream?

Definitely! In a central location so you can buy it from the shop or the café.

And staff recruitment?

That’s going well. The Assistant Manager role has now been filled, as has the Communities and Wildlife Officer post. We’re recruiting for café assistants now.

Are you looking for new volunteers?

Yes, as well as looking forward to welcoming our amazing volunteers back.

Areas covered by the new roles include: welcome, retail, events, wildlife guide and café volunteering.

But there is lots of flexibility, and many back room roles too. 

It’s important that people are aware that everyone needs to register, including all existing volunteers. This is to ensure we have up-to-date emergency contacts and medical information.

There will be a mini-induction and update for everyone too, covering Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, the Discovery Centre and Covid protocols.

Tell us about where we are with opening plans?

That’s down to what Government policy is in May. There is the issue of what the allowable occupancy rate will be and how we manage it safely with social distancing. That will be the deciding factor in terms of when, in May, we can open. But we are so looking forward to welcoming everyone, when we can do so safely.

Front Door and Lobby web


  • Bridget Thomas:

    08 Apr 2021 07:53:00

    Such exciting news! Can’t wait to visit


    08 Apr 2021 07:53:00

    Looks amazing, well done.

  • Briar blake:

    08 Apr 2021 08:01:00

    So exciting really looking forward to bringing our flora and fauna For a visit ASAP.

  • Kim Overington:

    08 Apr 2021 08:26:00

    Well done one and all for this gargantuan effort which is now complete.

    Amazing 😉

  • Anna Sophia Saunders:

    08 Apr 2021 08:27:00

    It looks really wonderful! I can’t wait to visit.

  • Elizabeth Steadman:

    08 Apr 2021 09:33:00

    Brilliant news! The Discovery Centre looks very inviting. Can’t wait to try the coffee and warm up inside. What a wonderful accomplishment especially for all those young naturalists who will benefit.

  • Peter Fairclough:

    08 Apr 2021 09:44:00

    The new centre looks great and i really look forward to visiting when it’s allowed to be open.
    You are probably doing this already, but can I suggest that you make a serious effort to avoid all packaging, or at the very least to make it all biodegradable? Sadly, people leave stuff all over the place and, in my view, it’s best not to give them the chance.

    Hi Peter. Thank you for your comment. We are, as you suggest, mindful of this. And where reasonable, practicable and possible - we will aim to do this. We look forward to welcoming you!
  • Gerry Marchant:

    08 Apr 2021 15:29:00

    I’m living back in Scotland now but still miss my regular visits to Rye Reserve when I was living nearby. We’re still in travel lockdown here but am looking forward to visiting you again & using the new centre !

  • Abby:

    09 Apr 2021 18:05:00

    Ah, this is great news, can’t wait to see the centre when it opens! As someone who works on sustainable packaging, please shout if you need any help!! (I don’t sell it, this isn’t a pitch, I’m sustainability manager at a major London department store..)

  • Anna Crabtree:

    15 Apr 2021 12:21:00

    Congratulations! Looking forward to my next visit.

  • Sharon Sellens:

    15 Apr 2021 12:31:00

    This looks great, I can’t wait to see it buzzing with people xx

  • Lynne James:

    15 Apr 2021 14:15:00

    Looks wonderful and we’‘ll be there for coffee as soon as allowed – now you need somewhere in WEST Sussex as well!

  • Marilyn Hunt:

    15 Apr 2021 15:28:00

    Can’t wait for the opening….keep us informed and we will be down. 👍👍👍

  • Maggie McCormack:

    16 Apr 2021 09:57:00

    As a regular visitor &walker at Rye Harbour I am very excited about the new centre opening soon. Looks great so far. What a welcome difference it will make!

  • Judith Colquhoun:

    18 Apr 2021 17:36:00

    Just wondering what the discovery centre is for apart from cafe and shop…. does it have an exhibition or nature trails or lookout or bird hide? What resources will be available? Thanks

    Hi Judith Along with the café and retail inside the DC is a learning area, plus interpretation panels providing information about the Reserve and its natural and human history and interactive units to engage young people. There will be lots of information on the Reserve, habitats and wildlife sightings. Liz Grant, Centre Manager
  • Marilyn Hunt:

    15 May 2021 09:06:00

    Can’t wait for the opening….keep us informed and we will be down. 👍👍👍

  • Bruce Rolston:

    17 Jun 2021 12:10:00

    will dogs be welcome inside the centre/cafe?

    ANSWER: Yes, dogs are welcome, more details here
  • David Lambert:

    31 Jul 2021 14:28:49

    Please expand the discovery centre’s website to explain what the centre is for. The website only tells us it has a shop and a café.

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