Repainting the gates at Blackpool Stanley Park
Blackpool Stanley Park
Stanley Park has been voted by the public as the UK's Best Park at the prestigious annual Fields in Trust Awards 2017.
Left to right: Awards host, TV sports broadcaster Jacqui Oatley MBE; Diane Farley, Parks Operational Manager at Blackpool Council; Elaine Smith MBE, Friends of Stanley Park and Brynmor Williams, former Welsh Rugby International and Fields in Trust Trustee.
For the third year running, the UK's Best Park Award, as voted by the public, celebrates the nation's favourite park. This year the public nominated 360 parks in total from across the UK with over 15,000 votes cast.
Stanley Park beat off stiff competition from three other finalists shortlisted, which included Craigavon City Park in County Armagh, Roath Park in Cardiff and Rouken Glen Park in East Renfrewshire.
Designed by celebrated landscape architect Thomas Mawson in the 1920s, the park which boasts an Italian marble fountain, boating lake, bandstand, Medici lions, Italian gardens and Art Deco styled café, has scooped the headline award at the annual Fields in Trust Awards 2017.
Stanley Park is seen as the jewel in Blackpool’s crown, with a variety of attractions including a wonderful café, scenic walks, beautiful gardens and sporting activities for all.
Dedicated Blackpool Council staff, along with partners such as the Friends of Stanley Park and volunteer groups, work hard through all seasons to keep the park’s standards high.
Cllr Graham Cain, Cabinet Secretary for Blackpool Council, said: “We’re absolutely delighted our park has been recognised by the public as being the best in the UK and are so proud of the joint effort that goes into keeping it clean, vibrant and somewhere for families to enjoy all year round.
“Thank you so much to all of you who voted and to everyone who continues to care for our magnificent park.”
Now in their sixth year the Fields in Trust Awards showcases some of the UK's best open spaces and shines a light on the efforts and achievements of the people whose tireless dedication ensures that these vital outdoor spaces can be enjoyed by the public.
Commenting on the UK's Best Park Award 2017 Fields in Trust Chief Executive, Helen Griffiths, said: "On behalf of everyone here at Fields in Trust, I would like to congratulate Stanley Park. The UK's Best Park Award is open to any green space regardless of whether or not it is protected in perpetuity with Fields in Trust.
“The people of Blackpool have sent a clear message that they love their local park and I hope that Blackpool Council will recognise this by working with us to safeguard Stanley Park as a place for community sport, play and recreation forever."
1926 was revisited on Saturday 8 July 2017
Published August 2017
To mark the occasion the official opening ceremony of 1926 was recreated – Edward Stanley, the 19th Earl of Derby unlocked the ornate main gates on West Park Drive, wearing morning coat and using a golden key - just as his grandfather did 90 years earlier.
Among the specially invited guests was 95-year-old Edith Wilkinson who attended the first ceremony 90 summers ago and remembers that she and her brother Fred had their photograph taken with the 17th Earl of Derby who originally opened the park.
(Above) Joan Humble and Jean Sanderson from Blackpool Civic Trust with Edith Wilkinson who is also a member of Blackpool Civic Trust. Edith was 5yrs old when she attended the original opening of the park over 90 years ago. She also still attends meetings of Blackpool Civic Trust.
Lord Derby opening the gates at Stanley Park in 1926
As the official party progressed up Mawson Drive before speeches from the Earl and The Mayor of Blackpool on the café terrace steps, the Earl was joined by schools from across the town, dressed to represent different decades.
The children then performed songs and dances at the bandstand. Park goers were invited to join in traditional games such as croquet, hopscotch, hula hoop as well as bounce on space hoppers.
View of Stanley Park from Cocker Clock Tower
Throughout the park, staff, volunteers, dignitaries and children were dressed in period costume, from ladies taking a walk in 1920s dresses, newspaper boys in caps, gentleman in blazers, boaters, top hat and tails to schoolchildren appearing as Blackpool’s 1953 FA Cup winning football team cheered on by their supporters.
Construction of Blackpool Stanley Park
A new audio visual recording which has been produced by Bev Carroll a Friend of Stanley Park will become a permanent feature in the visitor centre and was played later in the day. Through a mix of voiceovers and images it captures people’s experiences of the park over the years; recording the memories of those that were at the original opening in the twenties including 95-year-old Edith Wilkinson and 101-year-old William ‘Arnold’ Darbyshire who saw the park being constructed.
Stanley Park’s ornate main gates on West Park Drive have been returned to their former glory as their intricate decorative features have been repainted in gold.
The impressive gates were opened by the 17th Early of Derby on the 2nd October 1926 with a golden key used in the lock.
The Mayor Thomas Bickerstaff and 80 other Mayors and Mayoresses joined local and national dignitaries to mark the occasion.
Elaine Smith, Chairperson of the Friends of Stanley Park which has funded the project, said: “We continually strive to raise funds through events and activities in Stanley Park to generate much needed funds to support the Parks Department in the maintenance of our Grade 2 Heritage Park.
“I am really pleased that the Friends Group is able to provide the monies for this much needed refurbishment in time for our Birthday Celebration.”
Stanley Park is Blackpool's best known park - it's about 1.5 miles inland from the seafront at Blackpool Tower - you'll find it near to Blackpool Zoo and the Victoria Hospital in the Layton/Marton area of town.
Stanley Park is also the largest park in town, with a perimeter of 2.2 miles (3.54 km) and covering 256 acres (104 ha).
It's beautifully designed and very well maintained throughout the year - it's really a beautiful gem where neat gardens and natural wildlife areas sit side by side in the middle of the very busy, bustling town of Blackpool.
As you enter the park through the main gates and Mawson Drive, you'll arrive first of all at the Visitor Centre which was opened on 24 August 2005 by the 19th Earl of Derby.
Next to the Visitor Centre is the art deco cafe - both buildings are surrounded by rose beds and ornamental gardens.
The art deco cafe is worth seeing in its own right - a beautiful period building which has been renovated to its original glory.
Visitor centre is behind the trees at the left of the cafe
The Visitor Centre is where you'll find the Friends of Stanley Park who do much to look after the grounds, raise money towards its upkeep, and organise the events on the bandstand throughout the summer.
Stanley Park radiates from the circular Italian garden at the centre, right at the centre of which is a fountain with flowerbeds and smaller statues. A clock tower, a memorial to Blackpool's first Mayor, Dr William Cocker, is to the south of the central fountain.
Steps down to the garden are protected by two copies of the original Medici lions.
Towards the east side of the park is the large lake which can be used by the public for boating and fishing in designated areas - charges and memberships for fishing are available from/payable at the boathouse.
The lake is also a home to large numbers of water birds, ducks, geese and swans - especially since they have their own island in the centre.
The trees are also home to a large heronry - with big floppy nests built high in the trees by these magnificent birds.
Stanley Park is a lovely park to enjoy, with plenty of things to see and do do.
The Park has a long sporting history and offers the best facilities in town including bowling greens, tennis, trampolines, skateboarding, BMX, pitch and putt, trim trail, bowling, basketball, football, rugby and play facilities for children of all ages.
The 18 hole Stanley Park Golf Course was designed by famous architects Harry Shapland Holt and Dr Alastair Mackenzie.
The western side of Stanley Park is where you'll find the 5000-seater cricket ground, home to Blackpool Cricket Club and regularly used for county cricket by Lancashire CCC.
Stanley Park Sports Arena (which hosts a number of athletics competitions) and the Blackpool Sports Centre, containing three halls, gym and climbing wall, are located to the south of the cricket ground and this area also contains a putting green, table tennis tables and a conservatory.
Blackpool F.C., the town's professional football club, had its home at the athletic grounds on the same site between 1897 and 1899, before moving to their well known home on Bloomfield Road.
The southern side of Stanley Park is dominated by playing fields but is also where you'll find a children's play area and Blackpool Model Village.
The Model Village has its own entrance, but it's enclosed within the park perimeter. Tennis courts, astro-Turf pitches and a skateboard park are also in the southern part of the park.
Stanley Park is a sensational events destination and often hosts music festivals, concerts, sporting events, corporate conferences, art fairs and numerous individual meetings and company events.
Venues and Attractions
Stanley Park boasts a selection of spectacular outdoor locations and indoor venues that are suitable for hire including:
- Visitor centre
- Sports centre
- Open fields
- Sports pitches
To make an enquiry about hiring park space for your needs, as well as details on hire costs please contact the Parks and Open Spaces Service directly on 01253 478358 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
In 1921 the former Mayor of Blackpool and Member of Parliament Sir Albert Lindsay Parkinson acquired an area of land, intending to develop it into a park for Blackpool, with the help of the town council.
Stanley Park postcard, posted 1927
The council later took over the land and the project, going on to develop more buildings and acquire more land. Distinguished landscape architects of the time, TH Mawson and Sons, had the job of designing the park - and a good job they made of it too!
The 'son', Edward Mawson handled most of the work as his father's health failed. The park's golf course was designed by the famous partnership of Harry Colt and Dr Alister MacKenzie, who also created the nearby Blackpool North Shore and Royal Lytham and St. Annes courses.
On 2 October 1926 the park was completed and declared open by the 17th Earl of Derby, Sir George Edward Villiers Stanley.
Earl of Derby attending the opening of Stanley Park
It's named in honour of his father, the former Governor General of Canada, Frederick Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby KG, GCB, GCVO, PC who, from 1885 to 1886, had been the first MP for the newly created Blackpool Parliamentary Constituency. For 20 years before that he had also been one of the MPs for the larger constituency of which Blackpool was then a part.
Postcard of Italian Gardens in Stanley Park, not posted
View from the Italian Garden in Stanley Park, posted 1928
Postcard of Stanley Park Bandstand, posted 1946
Italian Gardens Stanley Park, Blackpool. Posted 1949
As a historically important garden, Stanley Park has had Grade II status since 1995 on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
Despite its age, the park was still the most recent park development in Blackpool until 2006 when George Bancroft Park was opened - where the climbing towers are on the approach into Blackpool near to the Football Club.
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