£18 million and 18 years old

By | Category: Travel news

Snowballs in the Drake's Place Garden

Hot on the heels of funding recently announced by the Heritage Lottery Fund to celebrate its eighteenth birthday comes the announcement of nearly £18 million worth of more grants. Coincidence in the number and the anniversary or was it deliberate?

This time instead of the funds going to buildings it goes to twelve different parks in England, Scotland and Wales.
Our parks are freely enjoyed by millions but sometimes they can be overlooked as many of us think of them as green open spaces requiring little management or support once they are established.
Nothing could be further for the truth. They require upkeep, visitor centres, parking areas, paths mapped and clearly signposted so that we don’t crash around destroying habitats.
The lucky recipients this time around probably think Christmas has come a little early. As Carole Souter, CEO of HLF says, “Parks enrich millions of people’s lives on a daily basis – providing room to relax and reflect – and it’s vital that we continue to value and protect them…”

New fencing, an improved play area, the refurbishment of a pavilion and a new green gym will be where the £2.2 million goes that Hednesford Park in Cannock, Staffordshire will receive. Just as importantly as apprenticeships announced last month will the two new jobs to assist in the daily running of the park.

Sculpture gardens are always popular with visitors and part of the £1.8 million going to Walker Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne will be to help sculptors set up such a garden.
The popularity of open spaces can be understood a little better when you realise that over 600,000 people annually visit Plashet Park in the east end of London. That’s about the same number who visit Nepal each year from everywhere else in the world, more than Barbados has tourists and twice the number that visit the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean! £1.3 million is provided to create this area which is first recoded in the Domesday Book not as a park but as a marsh.

In the Scottish Borders at Hawick, Wilton Lodge Park gets £2.6 million to reinstate the old bandstand, improving paths and building a new café so that visitors can enjoy the grounds whilst sitting down and drinking a restorative cuppa!

In Wales, £1.6 million goes to Margam Country Park near Swansea, one of the prettiest parks which contains a monastery, a castle and an orangery in its grounds. There, the money will be spent on providing better facilities and upkeep caused by its success in attracting so many visitors from its comparatively small geographic area.

There are many other parks who have received funding. All must be as happy as the children in the image which dates back to 1944 when they were photographed in Drake’s Palace Garden which has received just over £600,000 for visitor enhancement from the HLF.

Photograph of Plymouth in the snow, Drake’s Place Garden, 1944. Western Morning News
From the collections of Plymouth City Council (Arts and Heritage) / © Western Morning News

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