Work has started on Oswaldtwistle’s Rhyddings Park £2million overhaul.
Project leaders from Newground Together, a member of the Together Housing Group, Hyndburn Borough Council and the Friends of Rhyddings Park group officially kicked the refurbishment project off at a special ground-breaking ceremony.
The work has been made possible thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Parks for People programme secured by Newground Together and Hyndburn Borough Council.
Local agencies and the Friends of Rhyddings Park community group have worked tirelessly over recent years to gain the funding that will not only revolutionise the park but also bring exciting training opportunities and new jobs to the area.
The money will be used to:
• restore the Coach House to create a new community venue;
• return the derelict walled garden to its traditional use of food growing, including the construction of Victorian style greenhouses;
• establish a training and volunteering programme linked to park management, community engagement and health promotion managed by Newground working with the Friends of Rhyddings Park;
• work with Bootstrap Enterprises to develop a social enterprise based in the restored former Coach House, generating income for the park from meeting rooms, a cafe and a training kitchen;
• create a performance space area and develop a programme of community arts working with Hyndburn Arts at the nearby Civic Arts Theatre;
• provide education resources and opportunities for local schools;
• develop programmes of guided walks and family fun activities.
• ensure that the restored park provides benefits for heritage, local people and the wider community.
Peter Jordan, Newground’s Communities Director, said: “Plans for Rhyddings Park have been in the pipeline for a couple of years now but we’re all delighted to finally start work in earnest.
“The finished park will not only provide a beautiful setting for families to enjoy, but also make Rhyddings Park a vibrant community hub while maintaining its rich history.
“The community will have a huge part to play in transforming the park and we can’t wait to see the vision being made into a reality.”
From its early beginnings as a private house and gardens belonging to local cotton magnate Robert Watson in the mid-1800s, the park was acquired by Oswaldtwistle Urban District Council in the early 20th Century as a recreational facility for the people of the town.
Ann Warrington, from the Friends of Rhyddings Park group, said: “The Friends of Rhyddings Park are absolutely delighted, that after years of hard work from all involved, the works to redevelop the park are about to commence.
“We look forward to seeing the park becoming a focal point for the community, a place that is safe to enjoy the outdoors and be creative, to be the venue for performers and events.
“We look forward to coffee and cake in the Coach House café, enjoying the orchard, the kitchen garden and the beauty of the landscapes that will be created. Thank you to all that have helped make this happen.”
Cllr Ken Moss cabinet member for parks, said: “I’m delighted work is about to start at Rhyddings, this has been a culmination of three years hard graft for a lot of people.
“I am really excited to see how the refurbishment transforms the park over the next 12 months to make Rhyddings a park that Oswaldtwistle residents can be proud of.”