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History

The Friends of the Garden was established in 1982 to support the work and to encourage the wider appreciation of Durham University Botanic Garden. In those early days, the garden was accessible to the general public but its main purpose was to support the University's Botany Department.

It was realised that, to provide for visitors to the garden, a visitor centre was needed. The Friends worked to raise funds and, with support from local companies and the University, building began in early 1988. The official opening of the Visitor Centre by Dame Margot Fonteyn took place on Friday 1st July 1988.

When the Visitor Centre was first opened, it was the main Botanic Garden office. There was also no entry fee, so visitors simply walked through it into the garden. Occasionally the Friends would sell tea, coffee and sandwiches to the visitors. It was soon clear, though, that a more permanent solution was needed. Nonetheless, during that first summer, access to the garden was very much dependent on volunteering by the Friends.

Nowadays, the Visitor Centre is very much part of the landscape.