Award caps park's special year

Birdlife over Stanley Park Lake. pic Dan Martino
Birdlife over Stanley Park Lake. pic Dan Martino
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Stanley Park capped off a memorable year during which it celebrated its 90th anniversary by clinching two accolades at the Fields in Trust awards held in London on Wednesday.

It was crowned best park in the UK following a public vote and also won the Best’Have a Field Day’ category for its re-enactment of the opening of the park with Lord Derby among the guests in July.

Italian Gardens

Italian Gardens

Chairman of the Friends of Stanley Park Elaine Smith and the council’s parks operational manager Diane Farley collected the award at a ceremony held at Lords Cricket Ground in the capital.

Elaine said: “We always knew Blackpool had the best park, and now everyone else knows it too.

“We think it came across exactly how much people care for it, and how it is at the centre of our community.

“This has capped off a great year for Stanley Park, and I want to thank everyone who voted.”

Coun Graham Cain, cabinet member with responsibility for parks on Blackpool Council, said: “This is a fantastic achievement and I’m really proud of the park.

“Well done to everybody involved.”

The award was presented by former Welsh Rugby International Brynmor Williams who is a Trustee of Fields in Trust.

Parks and Green Spaces Minister Marcus Jones said: “Many congratulations to Stanley Park on being voted the UK’s Best Park 2017 in the Fields in TrustAwards.

“The public support shown for this park and all the finalists highlights just how much the residents of Blackpool and local communities more widely care about their treasured green spaces.”

The park has been grade II* listed since 1995.

Officially opened on October 22, 1926 by the 17th Earl of Derby and Sir George Edward Villiers Stanley, in whose honour it was named, the park was designed by renowned architects Thomas Mawson and Sons.

The park’s Historic England listing details its creation.

It states: “Land for a public park was secured in 1920 as part of a drive to control and plan the expansion of Blackpool.”

Plans were drawn up in 1992 by Thomas Mawson and Sons.

The listing adds: “Mawson prepared designs for houses to be built around the park and stipulated that there should be no housing built on the park side of the encircling road – this stricture has been adhered to.”

Mawson’s plans were followed closely when the park was built, with the Italian Gardens almost identical to the 95-year-old design.

All the key features of his plan remain to this day.

A £5m Heritage Lottery Grant was the catalyst for the park’s restoration in 2007.

The decision was taken to stage the 90th anniversary celebrations this summer. Guest wore 1920s clothing for the event, which was attended by Lord Derby, the great grandson of the man who opened the park almost a century earlier.