45 things you probably didn’t know about Martin Mere
4 years ago
WWT Martin Mere is a wetland centre that boasts beautiful surroundings and is a hotspot for wildlife just outside Ormskirk, and now they’re celebrating their 45th year.
Martin Mere are pioneers in saving threatened wetland wildlife and are passionate and determined to do so, as well as showing people how amazing wetlands are.
Situated not too far from Ormskirk, Martin Mere is a unique setting where you can get up close and personal with wildlife and take in the amazing beauty around you. They’re open seven days a week, all year round and no matter what time of the year you visit, there’s loads to see.
To celebrate Martin Mere’s 45th birthday, we’ve put together 45 facts about the centre that you may not know…
1 – WWT bought the land in 1968.
2 – The site was first opened in 1975.
3 – Since opening, there’s been around five million visitors to Martin Mere.
4 – The Visitor Centre building isn’t held together by any nails; interlocking logs are held together by the weight of the turf roof.
5 – There are approximately 100 tonnes of turf on the roof of the Visitor Centre.
6 – Sheep once grazed on the Visitor Centre roof.
7 – Ducks often build nests on the roof of the visitor centre, so look up when you visit during spring to check for ducklings!
8 – It is rumoured that King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, is buried under Martin Mere.
9 – An ancient canoe excavated from Martin Mere is on display in The Atkinson in Southport.
10 – The ponds and meres around the site are all man-made.
11 – Up to 1692, Martin Mere was the largest body of freshwater in England.
12 – The site was drained to become a farmyard in the 1800s, with water having to be re-introduced to create Martin Mere Wetland Centre.
13 – Until WWT bought the land, there wasn’t a single tree on site.
14 – The whole site covers approximately 800 acres.
15 – The centre is the only location in Northern England to have Spur Winged Geese, which are the only poisonous goose species.
16 – There are over 80 species in the grounds collection, including otters and flamingos.
17 – The site has the largest inland population of shelduck in Lancashire.
18 – Martin Mere has the second largest population of moorhens in the country.
19 – Over half a million gallons of water are pumped around the site every day.
20 – Around 20% of the world’s whooper swan population spend winter at Martin Mere.
21 – The oldest known whooper swan to visit the site is named Virginia and she around 29 years old!
22 – The site once had the longest bird hide in Europe.
23 – There are 12 hides overlooking different habitats around the reserve.
24 – From 2017-2019, Martin Mere held the Guinness World Record for having the World’s Largest Bug Hotel .
25 – The first two seasons of BBC’s Autumnwatch were filmed at Martin Mere.
26 – Martin Mere welcomes 10,000 school children every year.
27 – There are bog oak tree stumps on site that are over 6,000 years old – that’s older than the pyramids in Egypt!
28 – The site was once visited by HRH Prince Philip.
29 – One of the previous curators of the site was the grandson of Prime Minister William Gladstone.
30 – Another curator, Janet Kear (OBE), was the first woman to become the president of the British Ornithology Society.
31 – Over 100 volunteers donate their time to help at the centre.
32 – The centre employs 65 members of staff.
33 – In a 2014 survey, it was shown that Martin Mere was worth £5m to the local economy every year.
34 – The same survey found that this supports an estimated 31 full time jobs in the local area, on top of the 65 staff directly employed by the centre.
35 – The site has a man-made, kilometre-long canoe safari.
36 – Some of the Greater Flamingos on site are over 40 years old.
37 – The site has a garden that was originally displayed at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2017.
38 – The site sells 60,000 bags of bird seed each year.
39 – Every autumn, up to 40,000 Icelandic pink footed geese roost on the mere.
40 – Over 50,000 birds spend their winter on the reserve.
41 – The reserve hosts around 170 bird species every year.
42 – Mammals on the reserve include roe deer, otter, badger and water vole.
43 – The site has a herd of English Long Horn cattle which help to manage the wetlands.
44 – You can hand feed Hawaiian Geese at Martin Mere, which were brought back from the verge of extinction by Sir Peter Scott and the work of WWT.
45 – The site is an SSSI – a Site of Special Scientific Interest.