Completion of £1.2m Winckley Square Gardens is a ‘landmark day’ for Preston

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

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

The completion of the works has been described by leaders as a ‘landmark day’ for Preston city centre, signalling an ‘exciting future’ for the area.

The project has been led by the Winckley Square Community Interest Company (WSCIC) and delivered by environmental charity, Groundwork, in partnership with Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council, Preston BID and Preston Historical Society.

The WSCIC was founded in 2011 to look at ways in which the Gardens could be improved.

In the coming months, a manifesto for the Gardens will be created, setting out a clear future for the area, including plans for an annual event and further initiatives and ideas to maintain and enhance the area.

David Gill, chairman and a cofounder of the WSCIC said: “Today marks 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 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-official-reopening-of-winckley-square-gardensThe 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: “Groundwork is privileged to have played such a pivotal role in this important landmark project. Bringing our skills and experience to bear to help a community to realise its potential is what drives us on.

“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.

“From writing the bid, managing the project, designing the landscape architecture and overseeing the building work, their commitment and expertise has been really important in helping to drive this project forward. “We now look forward to delivering the next stage of the overall plan, which is to raise awareness and appreciation of the Square as an iconic part of the City’s heritage for generations to come.

Winckley Square restoration in 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