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We worked alongside The Wildlife Trust team to transform a listed railway building into a cafe and wildlife inspired destination.


Derbyshire Wildlife Trust are part of the National Wildlife Trusts that have over 800,000 members and manage more than 100 visitor and education centres in the UK. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have been monitoring, protecting and raising awareness of wildlife and wild spaces for over 55 years. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have an incredible listed railway building, The Whistlestop, nestled in the Derwent Valley, a UNESCO world heritage site. They wanted to transform this site into a place that inspired people to connect with nature in its own unique way. This meant keeping the railway heritage and integrating that with the wildlife messages.



We created their new Discovery Centre at The Whistlestop, Matlock Bath, which also included a locally-sourced cafe and wildlife themed retail shop. Our aim was to increase dwell time, spend per head and enhance the experience to create a magical atmosphere. We were ready to weave our magic! With our research into the ideal customer base, we defined a new, clarified guest flow and introduced zones, hands-on engagement and interactive exploration throughout the space. This new clarified focus on exploration and education will help Derbyshire Wildlife Trust shine a spotlight on their core wildlife conservation messaging within the cosy and welcoming comfort of the building.


The cafe and shop areas were re-designed with both comfort and commercial flow in mind, and are now integrated into the free-play activity and discovery areas of the building. We combined discovery about the local area, railway heritage and nature with the important educational messages and brand values of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust to define a unique interpretation for the space. It’s a place where you can easily spend a few hours with the kids, or just relax with a coffee and a paper. It’s now a great base where the Trust can develop even more events and programs.


"We knew from the moment we met the team that they just got us, that they were going to do The Whistlestop Café justice and they delivered! They have told our story perfectly and in the most playful, creative way."





The whole design was driven by using sustainable materials and local suppliers and volunteers wherever possible. We also researched the rail heritage of the Whistlestop building by working closely with local historians to create an interpretation plan & design. We wanted to stay authentic to the Trust’s brand whilst at the same time giving more depth and appeal to their identity. The whole of the Whistlestop has come alive with nature! The designs not only inform and educate, but they have whimsy and appeal all of their own. We created one-off, hand-drawn illustrations which make the cafe feel like a woodland full of creatures waiting to say hello.

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