Contractor Stephen Mersh starts work on the Charles Barclay-designed observatory in Northumberland

Work has begun on a new observatory in rural Northumberland where the skies are said to be the least light polluted in England.

Located at Kielder Water and Forest Park, the observatory unit will consist of two telescopes 2.2m and 2.5m high.

London-based architect Charles Barclay won the contract to design the observatory and will work with London builder Stephen Mersh to realise the project, sited at a hilltop location on Black Fell in Kielder Water and Forest Park.

The Kielder Observatory is being funded by the Northumberland Strategic Partnership via Single Programme funds from One NorthEast, European Regional Development Fund, Kielder Partnership and Northern Rock Foundation with support from RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) and Arts Council England.

The Observatory will form part of the Kielder Partnership's Art and Architecture programme, which includes Softroom’s Kielder Belvedere, Nick Coombe and Shona Kitchen’s Minotaur maze, Wolfgang Weileder’s Mapping and Kisa Kawakami’s Mirage.

Elisabeth Rowark, director of Kielder Partnership, said: “The Kielder Observatory is an exciting project that perfectly represents our key vision of using Kielder Water and Forest Park 's breathtaking landscape to inspire people to come to Kielder, to enjoy the beauty of the real night sky and to pursue a new hobby or interest.”