Between the early 19th century and the middle of the 20th century, the site on which Waters' Edge stands was quarried for brick and tile clay.
In 1955 the last brick works were demolished, although the clay quarries to the south of the brick works are still in existence. The remains of a number of the quarries can be seen in the form of fresh water reedbeds. The quarries located to the west of the works were filled in and later built upon.
Other industries associated with the area and the site before 1874 include rope making, malt kilns and fertiliser production. The Ropewalk, a quarter-mile long building located only a few minute’s walk from Waters' Edge, has a display that tells the story of Barton's rope making heritage. Local clay pantiles are still made in The Old Tile Yard, which is now a visitor attraction. This was once Blyth’s Tile Works one of the busiest in the UK.
By the 1950s a large production factory was well established on the site, making fertilisers from animal waste. The process had advanced and the factory was a well-established chemical plant with facilities to make acids. Unfortunately these fertiliser materials and the associated chemicals contaminated the site.
The site was bought by Glanford Borough Council from BritAg (a subsidiary of ICI) in 1989 and MTM in 1995. North Lincolnshire Council inherited the site from Glanford Borough Council in 1996 and work soon began to convert the site to a country park.
The old contaminated soil was stripped back, layer by layer. It was moved in convoys of lorries off site and buried in a secure site. The ponds were excavated and local topsoil from the nearby Far Ings Nature Reserve was brought in.
Thousands of reeds were hand planted along the banks of the ponds and an area of native woodland was created. The first part of the country park opened to the public in 2003.
A design competition was launched to develop an innovative, sustainable green building on the site to act as a centre for visitors to the park and also to house local businesses. The winning design was from Gerard Bareham Architects of Leeds and was opened three years later in 2006.
Our Construction of Waters' Edge leaflet [PDF, 20Kb] has more information about how the centre was built.