Gloucestershire

Duchess of Cornwall opens Westonbirt Arboretum's new welcome building

The Duchess of Cornwall at Westonbirt Arboretum
Image caption During her visit, the Duchess of Cornwall helped propagate a rare Chinese tree to mark the new welcome building's completion

The Duchess of Cornwall has opened a new £1.4m building at the National Arboretum in Gloucestershire.

The duchess, a patron of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum, opened its new purpose-built visitor information centre near Tetbury earlier.

During her visit, she planted a tree to mark its completion, and watched a performance by Cirque Bijou.

The second phase of the £4.3m plan includes a 300m (984ft) treetop walkway and tree management centre.

The new building, constructed from Douglas fir and western red cedar, includes improved visitor facilities and a giant interactive mosaic map made up of thousands of images of the arboretum.

The day also marked the launch of the next phase of development, a new walkway to take visitors up into the tree collection's canopy.

"The total bill for that is £1.9m and we've raised £1.34m so far," said Simon Toomer, a director at the arboretum.

"Today we're starting the public phase and asking people, if they can afford to, to pledge some money."

The project has benefitted from a £1.9m Heritage Lottery Fund grant, a £500,000 Biffa Award, and other donations.

There are some 16,000 trees at the 240ha (600 acre) arboretum, which features 2,500 different species from across the world.

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