The Wildlife Trusts

Museums & Heritage


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!

We’ve loved working with Katapult on this project – they have brought our vision to life (and so much more!)

Ellen Fineran

Head of Commercial Development, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust


The Whistlestop was already a local cafe, but Derbyshire Wildlife Trust knew they could unlock more potential in this grade II listed building. It was sleepy and mostly used as a loo stop or tourist information point, the rooms were unused or unwelcoming and visitors were unsure what it really was. Our shared goal was to revitalise the Whistlestop by creating a building full of the joy and energy of its lovely volunteers.

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 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 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.

Above all, we brought wonder back with family-friendly rooms and activities that included dress up, creative play and educational exploration.

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.

Kaite Helps

Marketing Manager, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust


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.

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.

Creating a home for what Derbyshire Wildlife Trust stands for is incredibly satisfying for us. We loved working to bring their conservation messages to life and to bring the people and wildlife of Derbyshire together in such a rare building. We’re excited to see the positive impact this has for the charity and the visitors



Need our expertise?

Tell us about your project.

Contact us