Hermitage Park regeneration project

Find out more about the Hermitage Park Regeneration Project in Helensburgh.

The Hermitage Park project has been awarded £2,333,300 grant from the Heritage lottery Fund, Parks for People to carry out plans to regenerate the only urban park in Argyll & Bute.

Hermitage Park has seen a decline since its heyday when tourists streamed off the steamship to relax and play in its beautifully cultivated gardens. It is thanks to the vision and efforts of the Friends of Hermitage Park, a group of community volunteers, that the park will be transformed so that it can again be a lively centre for recreation and learning.

A new pavilion will be built and historic features such as the A-listed war memorial, Japanese garden and wishing well will be restored. A multi-use sports facility will be introduced and the children’s play area will be moved and upgraded. The park’s heritage which includes the remains of Millings Mill which led to the founding of the town, will be celebrated with activities and events. Guided walks, storytelling, heritage trails and a demonstration garden will also be established to encourage more visitors through the gates.

Get involved

Are you interested in volunteering?

Volunteers are at the heart of the Hermitage Park project, and are vital to its success. The project needs your support, enthusiasm and energy to make it happen

The Friends of Hermitage Park need your help!

The Friends of Hermitage Park are a group of volunteers dedicated to saving our park and taking it forward for future generations to enjoy

Share your memories, pictures and stories about the park

We have many great stories and pictures of the park already, but we would like you to share yours with us - information, family stories, films - we would love to hear from you

Tell us about the Hermitage Park wildlife

We would love you to tell us about the wildlife you spot in and around the park - birds, animals, insects and plants - you can record your sightings on ispot (ispot is a national website for identifying and sharing wildlife)

What’s the Plan?

The proposal is to undertake the following works to Hermitage park:-

  • Restoration of historic fabric including walled memorial garden, pond and gates, old mill remains, Hermitage Well and the Millig Burn paths, bridges and walls,
  • Restoration/reinterpretation of historic planting, including open up lines of site to improve safety of visitors,
  • Celebration of heritage through interpretation and community involvement – and upgrading of the paths and drainage to increase access to the park,
  • Reconsideration of the recreational elements which include the children’s play park, bowling green, tennis courts, putting green and recreational pavilion, shelter and toilets.
  • Additional car parking facilities.

These works would meet the wider social needs of the community, allowing for traditional leisure needs, whilst encouraging use of the park as a location for education and learning. The vision includes a greater heritage and environmental aspect to the park, with the possibilities of interpreting the heritage and exploring the potential of community gardens, sensory gardens, increasing the habitat for wildlife, birds, etc. and minimising future maintenance requirements.

Project delivery

The £3.7m project for the heritage-led regeneration of Hermitage Park.

The project is in the final phase of capital delivery which is now expected to complete in Winter 2020. The project is coming towards the end of the construction phase and will continue to work closely with the design team, contractors and funders to manage any changes required. Delivery of the five year activity plan continues until 2021. Up to 30th September there have been £86,110 worth of volunteer hours in the park and we are on target to deliver the proposed £102,000 by the end of the activity plan. The Hermitage Park Manager has now left the project and a replacement is being advertised with an expected start date of 1st May 2020. The project continues to attract positive press and the Friends keep the community updated through their Facebook pages #Helensburgh Hermitage Park and with regular articles in the Helensburgh Advertiser and Community Advertiser.

Vision for the Park

“To Grow our park together”

“…return Hermitage Park to a central role in the Helensburgh community as a place to relax, exercise, meet and visit by restoring its most attractive and valuable areas of heritage importance and adapting its facilities to the requirements of the 21st century.”

Conserve, repair and interpret

A series of capital works projects will ensure key historic features are preserved for posterity such as the ‘A’ listed War Memorial Garden, the Hermit’s Well, bridges over Milligs Burn and remains of Milligs Mill. Discreet people-centred interpretation will help bring the park’s heritage to life and ensure it is valued, cared for and enjoyed.  Collaborative projects will run parallel to the capital works project, such as the archaeological dig, where local people and schools will be invited to help reveal the original footprint of Hermitage House.

Increase community involvement, use and benefit

A new pavilion with covered deck and new play area will create a dynamic new hub.  The pavilion will incorporate a café, toilets and multi-function space for events.   A dedicated activity area with adventure play, fine lawn games and a fountain plaza will provide a focus for community activities.  The old play park will become a demonstration garden growing fruit and vegetables that would have provided Hermitage house, and medicinal herbs grown when the house was a military hospital.  The new pavilion will incorporate environmentally sustainable features, ensuring both financial and environmental sustainably.

The project includes an extensive volunteer programme and activities to communicate and celebrate the park’s heritage.  An improved park and programme of activities and events will bring people together and make the park a vibrant community asset and the area a better place to live, work, and visit.  By ‘growing our park together’ the park will once again become a well-used community space in which people feel safe.

Improve care and maintenance

Funding for a dedicated Park Manager, supported by a well-trained volunteer team and new apprentices, will ensure the park is better managed and the heritage remains accessible.  Better management of the plants and the landscape will provide habitats for wildlife, and opportunities for learning more about taking care of the natural environment.

History of the Park

Hermitage Park was developed as a public park in the early 20th century and originally formed the grounds of a private house with views over the Firth of Clyde. The landform of the area, with the valley of Milligs burn a major topographic feature, dictates the layout of a large proportion of the site. Aspects of the site go back much further in time, particularly the history of Milligs mill and its associated features.

Find out more about the history of Hermitage Park

Share your thoughts / finds / views / memories / pictures

As part of the journey so far we have been able to collect and gather a great deal of information about the history of the park, this forms part of the Conservation Plan.  As part of this we would like to hear why the park is important to you and we would love to receive any images of the park you might have. We have many great stories about how important the park was to them, for example we know where the key kissing tree is and will make sure this tree is not removed, we know the best hill is to slide down in the snow, we have also been able to determine many key historical facts about the park and Mill to help us interpret and tell the story to others.

If you would like to add your views, a picture or add a comment please get in touch.

If you have a picture please contact us and will arrange for the image, video, cine film to be copied.

What we don’t know:

We would like to find information on or images of the following things, can you help?

War memorial and its garden.

Prior to its use as a war memorial garden it was the kitchen garden to the former Hermitage House, thought to be built in 17. It had a number of Mackenzie and Moncur glasshouses around and within. We have no images or first-hand knowledge of what was grown or how it was laid out other than what we can see in maps and plans. Does anyone have an images or information on the layout, what was grown, etc. within the former kitchen garden?

We know that as part of the war effort medicinal herbs were grown in the walled garden and dried in the conservatory of the house. But there is no mention of fruits or vegetables.

Milligs Mill

Said to be the birthplace of Helensburgh, Milligs Mill, or what remain of it are located within the park. We have just a handful of images of the Mill and its associated features. We would love to hear from anyone who has any images or further knowledge of the mill.

We have no images of:-

  • the mill wheel
  • The inside of the Mill
  • Any details images of the mill buildings
  • The Mill race/rill
  • The Mill pool bank detail

The Japanese Garden

Is thought to be originally located to the north eastern side of the park. Unfortunately, all we have are a number of plants and no images of the Japanese garden. 

Carpet bedding

We would like to bring back some form of carpet bedding display within the park if possible. We have a number of designs, thanks to various people who have allowed us to copy family photographs. We would like to see more examples.

Park Gates

Whilst we do not wish to close the park we would be interested in finding more out about the former gates into the park. We know there was a set on the main entrance. Does anyone have any images of these?

Hermitage Park wildlife

We are looking for people with an interest in and knowledge of nature to help us record what they see in the park. Our aim is to improve the diversity of the park.


Our funders

The project has a £3.3million budget.

Get in touch

For more information on the Hermitage Park regeneration project, please contact:

Hermitage Park Project
Argyll and Bute Council
Helensburgh and Lomond Civic Centre
East Clyde Street
G84 7PG

Tel. no. 01369 708547

E-mail: thirdsectorenquiries@argyll-bute.gov.uk

Did you find what you were looking for?

Why wasn't this information helpful

Limit to 250 characters.