Descendent of Mansion House benefactor visits park

Ed Andsell outside Mansion House
Ed Andsell outside Mansion House
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A descendant of a local businessman whose largesse funded the construction of one of St Helens’ best loved buildings has returned to the borough to see for himself his family’s legacy.

Solicitor John Ansdell paid for the building of Mansion House, which has stood for over a century as the centre piece of Victoria Park near the town centre.

The building, as well as the park which surrounds it, is now the beneficiary of modern day philanthropy in the form of a £3.4m National Lottery grant.

And Mr Ansdell’s great, great grandson, Ed Ansdell, made the 4,000 mile journey from his home in Ontario, Canada, to his ancestral hometown to see for himself how his family’s heirloom is being developed.

St Helens Council has been keeping him informed of progress since he last visited in 2005. John’s son moved to Canada and that is where the link to Canada starts.

Mr Ansdell is now also conducting research into his family tree but has struggled to find out much information about John’s parents.

While in the park he planted a sweet chestnut tree in commemoration of his visit and the park’s 128 years anniversary.

The gate lodge is used for a park officer and ranger base with community meeting rooms to be booked through Friends of Victoria Park and the use of the orangery can be booked through Age UK.

Coun Seve Gomez Aspron, cabinet member for Environment and Neighbourhoods, said: “We were delighted to keep Mr Ansdell in the loop over work on the park which has strong family links for him.

“By planting the tree he can now say that those family links remain strong for generations to come.”

Work already completed at the park has included:

l Desilting and removing rubbish from the pond to encourage biodiversity

l Rebuilding and maintaining the pond walls and islands

l Improved access for ducks and wild birds, by fitting duck ramps and coir matting

l Added new aquatic planting

l Opened up the views to the pond

l Removed old tree stock and replanting with new trees

l Planted new grass and wildflowers

l Repaired and maintained The Folly

l Relayed old Victorian kerb edgings, paving, footpaths and steps

l Created new paths around the pond