PRESS NOTICE
 
The Lancashire Evening Post, Monday, 8th July 2002
 
Treasure hunt for park's glory days

"Renaissance" seeks funding from Lottery

By Alan Burrows
 
AMBITIOUS plans have been tabled to return two of Preston’s Victorian parks to their full glory.

Preston Council has drafted proposals to restore and refurbish Avenham and Miller Parks

The move is part of the autority’s parks and open spaces strategy, which was drawn up last July and calls for widespread improvements over the next five years.

Avenham and Miller Parks are seen as priorities although extensive searches have not led to the discovery of the original master-plans, and both have changed over the years.

Victorian Fountain in Miller Park
 
Avenham and Miller Parks are seen as priorities although extensive searches have not led to the discovery of the original master-plans, and both have changed over the years.

The state of the county’s public parks has been the subject of an investigation and campaign in the Lancashire Evening Post, following fears that they were tatty and magnets for crime.

Avenham Park could see the restoration of many key features, including the Summer House, the Japanese Gardens, the Colonnade and Belvedere.

The bandstand could be replaced and upgraded to stage contemporary events, with artwork and lighting. Even the drinking fountain could be revamped with artwork to depict the original dolphin water spout and basin. Work could also be identified to create better drainage following the difficulties at the 1992 Guild and paths could be resurfaced.

Civic leaders want to restore the fountains, Derby Walk and Balustrade at Miller Park.

A new education centre and café could be created at the existing stable yard depot site on South Meadow Lane and a second park ranger could be taken on for security.

Speculation
Again footpaths would be resurfaced and the work would also include landscaping with trees and scrubs.

The original rose garden would be restored as would the gates and railings on both parks.

The council is looking at applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Arts Lottery Fund, the Single Regeneration Budget and grants from Europe.

Any work would bring hope to one of Preston’s hidden assets.

There has been continuing speculation that the Avenham Viaduct, which carried the East Lancashire railway line that effectively splits the parks, could be home to a spectacular development.

Developers have said that they want to build a flamboyant equivalent to Florence’s Ponte Vecchio by lining the viaduct with shops and offices, mirroring the famous Italian landmark.

Grange Park has already been refurbished over the past two years using money from various sources, including the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Nigel Conway, the Parks Manager, said: ”If successful the bid will put Preston’s parks back into the heart of communities and see them become important tourist attractions.

 
 
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© The Lancashire Evening Post, July 2002