Argyll and Bute Council’s Hermitage Park project receives £2,333,300 funding boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund

Published Date: 

14 Jan 2016 - 10:15

Argyll and Bute Council, working with the Friends of Hermitage Park, has received confirmation from the Heritage Lottery of a £2,333,300 grant towards the ambitious Hermitage Park redevelopment project.

Policy Lead for Infrastructure, Helensburgh-based Councillor Ellen Morton, welcomed the news, saying: ‘’We are delighted with this news. The money from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will pay for around three-quarters of the cost of the project, with the council contributing £280,000 directly and the remaining money coming from other funders such as the War Memorial Trust.

‘’Following on from the completion of the town centre regeneration project last year, which has given the town a real boost, this is yet more good news.

‘’This has been a real partnership project between the council and the local community, by way of the Friends of Hermitage Park Association and is a great example of Argyll and Bute Council’s commitment to engaging with our local communities.

‘’Going forward we would hope to and tender for a main contractor for the work around spring 2016. All going well work should get underway in the autumn 2016 with a view to completion by summer 2018.

‘’While this is, of course, happy news and is to be warmly welcomed, it is tinged with sadness following the untimely death of our project architect, local man Gareth Hoskins. Aged just 48, Gareth was one of the country’s most respected architects and has been involved in Argyll and Bute Council projects for a number of years. Our thoughts go out to his family at this difficult time and we can only hope that the redeveloped park will stand as a testament to him.’’

Chris Packard, Chairman of the Friends of Hermitage Park, said: “It is just over five years since the Friends of Hermitage Park was created in order to raise money for the restoration of the much neglected Hermitage Park. From the outset we worked closely with Argyll and Bute Council and this award from The Heritage Lottery Fund has been largely thanks to the strength of this partnership and the support of many people, in particular the dedication of Arlene Cullum and Melissa Simpson from the council, the Trustees of the Friends and the front line support of our local councillors. We also wish to acknowledge and thank all those generous people whose support helped to meet the financial target. In particular, we wish to express our gratitude to the Round Table for their most generous contribution. ”

Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, Lucy Casot, said: “Parks, and the historic features in them, are a wonderful legacy from our ancestors. They are enjoyed by all ages and are often a community’s only green space in which to relax away from the pressures of daily life. Using funds raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund is delighted to be able to protect and transform Hermitage Park helping make a difference to the quality of life for the thousands through its gates.”

Notes

The Parks for People programme uses Lottery funds to support the regeneration, conservation and increased enjoyment of public parks and cemeteries. Find out more about how to apply at www.hlf.org.uk/parks 

Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

From the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife, we use National Lottery players' money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about.  www.hlf.org.uk. @heritagelottery

Hermitage Park

Hermitage Park was created in 1911, from the grounds of the now demolished Hermitage House and extended in 1919 to include the former Millig Mill. Hermitage Park takes its name from the Hermit’s Well a stone structure in the north east corner of the Park, a typical Victorian garden folly containing a spring and reputed to have therapeutic powers.

For most of the twentieth century the park was a beautifully cultivated public garden where children could play and visitors (majority arriving from Glasgow on commercial steamship) and residents could relax, and play various sports and listen to music. The park is still considered to be an important recreation asset and it continues to be used and appreciated locally, although the level of usage has declined steadily over the years. It continues to host a small number of events such as Remembrance Sunday and the bicentenary Scottish Pipe Band Championship.

This project was initiated in 2010 when a few local residents expressed concern about the deterioration of Hermitage Park over many years from aspects of both maintenance and safety.  The Friends of Hermitage Park Association set about tackling some of the park’s problems through a programme of action days, with the council helping clear overgrown areas, open up the Millig Burn and clear flower beds.

Although this produced a noticeable improvement it was clear from that further action was needed.

Argyll and Bute Council and the Friends of Hermitage Park Association submitted a joint application for grant funding to the Heritage Lottery Fund in February 2013, but it was turned down.

Despite this lack of success and in view of the warm reception the application received, a second and improved application was submitted at the end of August 2013, which was accepted

The masterplan

The plan includes:

·         Belvedere at outer wall of memorial gardens

·         Bedding area next to Hermit’s Well to be redesigned as footprint of former Hermitage House

·         Play park to become kitchen garden (with play equipment resited)

·         Redesign of sports area to adventure play, crazy golf and fountain plaza/event space/informal play

·         New pavilion with covered deck area to incorporate café, toilets and community space for volunteers/other

·         Removal of Japanese style shelter

·         Introduction of seating both formal and informal

·         Introduction of sheltered areas

·         Additional car and cycle parking with provisional installation of electric charging station