£3m lottery boost for historic park

Mansion House, Victoria Park
Mansion House, Victoria Park

ONE of St Helens’ oldest and best-loved parks is set to be given a new lease of life courtesy of a £3m lottery grant.

This week the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded the huge cash boost to help restore Victoria Park to its former glory.

The council-led project, aimed at preserving the age-old park’s historic features, will include conservation of the original entrance gates and the restoration of the Grade 2 listed Gate Lodge.

The work will not only improve the look of the park, but will also create a meeting room, ranger office and improved visitor facilities.

Stabilisation work will be carried out on the folly - to prevent further deterioration - and the pond will be fully restored, reintroducing important wetland habitats.

A new garden is also set to be introduced, alongside a bowling green and two new tennis courts, and the walled garden and adjoining orangery will be fully restored for the public to enjoy.

Coun Alison Bacon, St Helens Council’s cabinet member for environmental protection, said: “This is wonderful news – which will be welcomed by everyone in St Helens. Victoria Park is a local institution which, over the years, has been enjoyed by countless local people.

“Everyone is looking forward to seeing the park restored to its former glory.”

Originally a private house and garden, Victoria Park came into existence when it was sold to St Helens Corporation - who opened it in 1886 as the second public park in the town.

It was only named Victoria Park a year later, however, for Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee.

Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West, Sara Hilton, said: “This project will revitalise the much-loved Victoria Park, restoring important historic elements and providing new facilities for visitors to enjoy.

“By working with Age UK, who have been instrumental in drawing plans together, the scheme will ensure that people from across the community are involved in transforming their park.”

The restoration scheme has been developed with Age UK Mid Mersey, which is based in the Mansion House at the heart of the park.

Philip Longworth, the chief executive of Age UK Mid Mersey, said: “This is fantastic news for our community. More people will soon be able to appreciate and learn about the site’s heritage and we are delighted to now be able to establish a state-of-the-art dementia cafe within the newly restored orangery.”