A £2.4m Lottery bid for Fleetwood’s Memorial Park has been approved – and will be used to restore it to its former glory.
The park is one of Fleetwood’s jewels in the crown but it went through a long period of decline before a campaign began to revive it.
Now Wyre Council has been awarded the grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) to help create a stunning green oasis in the heart of the port.
Les Fletcher, chairman of the Friends of Memorial Park, was delighted after the announcement was made .
He said: “I’m thrilled with this decision and the benefits it will bring for the people of Fleetwood.
“I remember how lovely and well used the park was when I was a child, 60 years ago, but I’ve seen it change over the years to become a thoroughfare rather than a destination.
“I’ll be delighted to see it restored to its former glory and reaching its full potential.
“I hope more people from all parts of the community will be encouraged to use and enjoy it in the future.”
The funding will be used to carry out a comprehensive restoration of the Grade II listed park and create a five-year programme of community activities to celebrate its heritage and the unique history of the town.
Designed and built in 1925 by renowned town planner Sir Patrick Abercrombie, Memorial Park is unique in that the entire grounds were created in commemoration of the First World War, unlike most conventional architectural memorials, and is one of only four listed war memorial parks and gardens in the country.
Councillor Lynne Bowen, Cabinet member with responsibility for parks at Wyre Council, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund have backed our vision for Memorial Park.
“The decision reflects the historical significance of the park, both locally and nationally, and it is fitting that we will be undertaking this work during the First World War centenary.
“Local people have played a big part in shaping our restoration plans, which have wide-reaching aspirations to improve lives in terms of health and wellbeing, and I want to thank them for their enthusiasm.
“Memorial Park has been at the heart of Fleetwood’s community for almost one hundred years and we can now safeguard its future for the enjoyment of generations to come.”
Carole Souter, Chief Executive of HLF, said on behalf of HLF and BIG: “We’re delighted to be able to provide this much needed support for Memorial Park when it could not be more needed.
“Many public parks are really suffering in the current economic climate so this is particularly good news for the North West. Parks are important to all of us and add so much to our quality of life.
“Memorial Park in Fleetwood, which has hugely important First World War links, will help to bring the already passionate local community together and now, we can help them secure its future.”
Wyre Council has worked closely with local veterans and the Friends of Memorial Park Group to develop the project and was assisted by a team of volunteers that carried out extensive research into the park’s origins.
The project will see essential conservation work carried out including restoration of the war memorial, entrances, pond, pathways and pavilion; a greater range of sports and play facilities including construction of a multi-use games area; and a programme of community activities aimed at exploring the park’s history, the stories of those commemorated on the war memorial and Fleetwood’s maritime past.
Work is due to start in January 2014 with the restoration of the park’s pavilion, which will become a community hub. It is hoped that the project will be complete by spring 2015.
For further information visit wyre.gov.uk/memorialpark