HUNDREDS of park users who rallied to rescue a historic site for future generations have been rewarded after winning a lottery grant.
More than £2.2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund has been awarded to Northumberland Park in North Shields.
The cash is the latest success for North Tyneside Council’s Excellent Parks Programme, and will allow the reinstatement and restoration of lost features, such as the fountain and street furniture.
It will also help create new visitor facilities for the park, which lies between Tynemouth and North Shields and was opened in 1885, and comprised of woodland areas, formal gardens, pond, bowling greens and a play site.
Work will get under way in the autumn and will be completed by late 2015.
Mayor Linda Arkley said: “This is not only great news for North Tyneside Council, but also for the local community who have rallied to support this project and worked incredibly hard to secure the future of Northumberland Park for future generations.
“We have listened to the views of park users in shaping our bid and we will continue to listen and involve the local community as we take this forward.”
Ivor Crowther, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North East, said on behalf of HLF and the Big Lottery Fund: “Northumberland Park is a highly-valued and popular green space for the people of Tynemouth and North Shields.
“Today’s lottery investment will enable major restoration work to start in earnest on the park’s historic features and will drastically enhance the current visitor facilities.
“Once completed, this will once again be a first-class resource for the surrounding community and visitors to enjoy.”
The park includes many interesting and unique features including a pet cemetery and the medieval remains of St Leonard’s Hospital.
The council wants to ensure they are better protected, preserved and interpreted.
Volunteers have established the New Friends of Northumberland Park whose efforts have included working with a professional archaeologist to investigate the history of the popular park as well as organising community planting days and assisting with the maintenance of the park.
The broad aims of the scheme are to:
n Restore lost features including cast iron railings, Band stand, historic planting schemes, fountains and park furniture;
n Provide essential new visitor facilities to support the park’s long-term future, which will include a café, toilets, community room and terrace within the formal gardens;
n Improve management and maintenance regimes;
n Improve both physical and intellectual access to the park and its unique history.
Wallsend Park is already undergoing a £7m facelift after the HLF awarded a grant of £2.45m towards its £5.2m restoration and regeneration.
There are also proposals to for improvements at the Killingworth Lake Park, Tynemouth Park and Churchill Playing Fields.