Weʼre raising £25,000 to Restore Grade II* Listed Corporation Park's Iconic Conservatory
- Corporation Park, Blackburn, Lancashire.
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Corporation Park has nestled in the heart of Blackburn since its opening in 1857. The Victorian people of the time visited the Park due to its beauty and grandeur. It was a place of escape and tranquility, a place to relax. They were further rewarded in 1900 with the erection of 'The Conservatory' which was to become the focal point of this public paradise. People were amazed at how such exotic and tropical plants and trees were living and thriving in their Lancashire town.
What is The Conservatory?
The Conservatory or 'Victorian Palm House Conservatory' could be described as a very large greenhouse! It is constructed of steel and glass with many unique features reflective of the Victorian era. It is registered by English Heritage within a Grade II* Park and Garden of Specific Interest.
The conservatory is split into three main sections, with the mid section designed to house exotic flora such as Palms, meaning it is kept with moderate warmth and humidity. The outer two wings kept at a slightly lower temperature to display plants of temperate zones.
What has happened to the conservatory?
Unfortunately the Conservatory has become subject to vandalism, seeing many of its glass windows smashed and the building being covered in graffiti. Following this and repeated break ins, the Conservatory has now been locked up completely from the public and broken glass boarded up. The building now sits in a sorry state, much to the disappointment of the people who once cherished this precious creation.
What is our goal and realistic target?
We realise that £25,000 is not enough money to restore the Conservatory completely. That is because we have taken a realistic approach to this project by working in manageable stages. £25,000 will allow us to make the site secure and begin some basic maintenance. Dependent on public interest and support, our real goal is to raise somewhere in the region of £100,000.
The hope is that once completely restored we can make the conservatory self sufficient by creating a café or shop run by local charities or community groups. It is hoped that some of the profit made from the café will be used for the maintenance and upkeep of the Conservatory. In addition we are looking at adding toilet facilities to the Corporation Park site, enticing people to extend their stay.
Won't the Conservatory just get vandalised again?
Our aim is to make the site secure from vandals by adding tasteful fencing and blocking access to more vulnerable parts of the building. We are also looking into glass alternatives to deter the breaking of glass. In addition we believe that once restored, and operating as a business, there will not be as great an appeal to cause damage to the property.
Why do I care?
My name is Pam Croasdale. Born and raised in Blackburn (many years ago), I have fond memories of Corporation Park as a child. My mum would take me there every Saturday afternoon for a picnic. Of course each time we went I requested to visit the Conservatory - at the age of 8 or 9 the building amazed me. I can still visualise opening the door and being hit by a wave of warm humid air, carrying the scent of the flowers and plants dwelling inside. Below my feet were iron grates which housed the heating that allowed the tropical plants to thrive. In the entrance a vast array of colourful flowers which acted as a polite introduction to what lay in the next room. A jungle!! Floor to ceiling with weird and wonderful plants and palms. My favourite being a banana tree! A BANANA TREE! IN BLACKBURN! Having never been abroad to witness these treasures I soaked up the atmosphere completely, and each time I entered was as exciting as the first. I felt so lucky to have this wonderful place on my doorstep, and being able to visit whenever I wanted, free of charge.
So imagine my upset and disappointment when I visited the Conservatory with my mum and baby daughter earlier this year. Boarded up, locked away from the public. The only comfort I took was that when I peered inside, the tropical plants, although neglected were still alive. Fighting on. This inspired me. This place needed saving, we owe it to the plants, the people who once cherished them and the Park, the people who built this amazing place, and perhaps more importantly - to the people of the future. Our children. There is nothing I would want more than for my daughter to run into this special place with the same excitement and wonder as I had done as a child. With this in mind I searched for clues as to how I could help, which is when I came across the Corporation Park Supporters Group.
Corporation Park Supporters Group
Corporation Park Supporters Group Please click the link to be redirected to their website.
For nearly 20 years we've been working together to protect and improve our park for the benefit of the whole community. Our 80 members and a small but very active committee have achieved a great deal.
We were closely involved in the original £4m Heritage Lottery Bid to restore the park to its original Victorian splendour, and for the last 3 years have been working to raise funds towards the restoration of the Grade II listed conservatory. We’ve co-operated with Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council on 2 bids for this purpose, though sadly the most recent has been rejected – largely on the grounds of Council uncertainty, caused by the need for budget cuts, about the park’s future management,.
Possibly our greatest achievement has been to hold regular events which attract a considerable number of families to the park. Brass band concerts, monthly car boot sales, and Santa In The Park (with his reindeer) every December, are some of our regular events. We also provide refreshments for Blackburn events such as the Inter-Faith Memorial Day in March and the Remembrance Day Service in November. We’ve run craft courses, photographic competitions, talks on the park’s history, Family Fun Days, and generally tried to make Corporation Park a centre of excellence.
Another of our achievements has been the installation of the history trail, with information points marked by large natural stone boulders which have engraved metal plates explaining the historical significance of each stopping point.
We also helped to win a significant grant to improve our children’s playground which has proved very popular with the many young families in the area.
We run a website which, apart from providing information about our activities, has proved of great interest to former Blackburners now living abroad.
The Supporters Group strongly supports the Volunteer Days run by park staff. These days have helped to ensure that seasonal planting and seasonal pruning are all kept up to date, and also that the park is free from litter. We’ve funded owl boxes and other items to improve the environment and encourage wildlife.
Our park is part of Blackburn’s heritage, but it’s also an important resource for health and well-being, providing space for exercise and a peaceful and tranquil green area for relaxation.
We’re proud of Corporation Park and of what it represents – it was among the first public parks in England, and the townspeople themselves paid for the construction of the conservatory. We’re part of this tradition of providing services for Blackburners and intend to continue helping with its maintenance and development in any way we can.
Mr Tasleem Fazal
Contact: 07824 511889. firstname.lastname@example.org
ALL PROCEEDS RAISED WILL GO DIRECTLY TO THE CORPORATION PARK SUPPORTERS GROUP.
Want to join us??
We are always looking for passionate and like minded people to join the group and assist in future projects. If you think you'd like to help, please contact us.
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Aug 12, 2018
Jul 5, 2018
Beautiful iconic building. Needs to be restored and protected
Jun 25, 2018
Jun 23, 2018
Keep up the good work. The quiz was great fun.
Jun 22, 2018
A fantastic cause! Well done you for setting up - here’s hoping we can spread the word as far and wide as possible and get somewhere near that target xxx
Jun 22, 2018
Well done Pam on setting up this page, I will donate more in the future.
Jun 21, 2018
Good luck with this worthy cause to save a valuable part of our local heritage
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