Eckersley toasts completion of £1.2m Winckley Square Gardens project

December 2, 2016

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A five-year project co-created by Eckersley to transform a historic Preston Georgian square has completed.

The city’s historic Winckley Square Gardens have been officially reopened to the public following a £1.2m restoration backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The Gardens have been closed for 16 weeks for a ‘sympathetic yet transformational’ restoration to breathe new life into the area. They were officially reopened by the Mayor of Preston, Coun John Collins.

The project has been led by the Winckley Square Community Interest Company (WSCIC) which was created in 2011 by Croft Goode, Eckersley, Freshfield, Harrison Drury, Moore and Smalley and Napthens to look at ways in which the Gardens could be improved.

The scheme involved a partnership between environmental charity, Groundwork, in partnership with Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council, Preston BID and Preston Historical Society.

David Gill from Moore and Smalley, chairman of the WSCIC said: “This is the start of an exciting future for Winckley Square Gardens, it’s a landmark day for Preston. We are overjoyed with the transformation.

“We started with a blank sheet of paper, no money and a feeling by many we wouldn’t get far. But it shows the power of partnerships between the community, private and public sector. Our gratitude goes to all those partners and people who have come together to make this possible.

“We now hope the community will take ownership of the gardens and enjoy them for years to come.”

Thanks to National Lottery players, the scheme was given the go ahead last year after the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund announced that a bid for almost £950,000 was approved.

The project has also received £150,000 from Preston’s Business Improvement District and smaller grants.

The work has been completed by Barton Grange Landscapes who were awarded the contract earlier this year and have been on site since August.

The work carried out during the project includes:

  • The repairing and repainting of the railings and gated entrances
  • The installation of a new drainage system
  • The widening and resurfacing of footpaths
  • The restoration, clean and repair of the Sir Robert Peel statue
  • The removal of dead or dying trees
  • The removal of problematic shrub beds
  • The installation of new low level architectural LED footpath lights and CCTV
  • The installation of interpretative artwork providing discovery points of interest relating to the places and people who played a part in the history of the Square and the wider city
  • The installation of new benches and bins
  • The creation of a re-inforced grass event space constructed in the southern third of the gardens to allow future events and activities

All works have been constructed using a carefully selected palette of hard wearing yet attractive materials that correspond sensitively to the surrounding conservation setting.

The design process included a dedicated conservation management plan developed by a team of notable Preston historians from groups such as the Preston and South Ribble Civic Trust, Preston Historical Society, Lancashire Gardens Trust and Blog Preston.

Groundwork Executive Director, Andrew Darron, said: “It has been inspiring to work alongside local business people, passionate volunteers and historians and the Local Authority – all committed to making a difference.  I’m incredibly proud of the work done by our team at Groundwork.

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Mark Clarkson, director of Eckersley and director of WSCIC, added: “Eckersley along with our other partners are delighted and proud that all the hard work over the last 5 years has paid off. It is important, however, to note that further works are planned in the short, medium and long term which we hope will further improve the use and enjoyment of the gardens.

When spring arrives we expect the transformation of the gardens will take another significant step forward.

WINCKLEY SQUARE RESTORATION – THE NUMBERS

  • Over 400 linear metres of new land drains installed to deal with historic waterlogging issues
  • 153 low level LED footpath lights installed
  • 630 metres of resurfaced and widened footpaths
  • 30 new trees to maintain character for generations to come
  • 1,600 tonnes of imported stone beneath improved footpaths, and reinforced grass event space
  • 1,400 tonnes of Rootzone drainage topsoil over lower valley area
  • Nearly 520 linear metres of railings repaired and repainted
  • 200 tonnes Topsoil imported to improve grass areas and new planting beds
  • And one new Westmorland limestone nose