The next stage of a project that is set to see the ‘revival’ of Hirst Park in Ashington has been completed.

The second round application for a ‘Parks for People’ grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund was submitted last week.

The project is being led by Northumberland County Council and members of the council and partner organisations met in the park to review the documents before final submission.

In early 2016 development funding of £139,300 was awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund, and Northumberland County Council and Ashington Town Council together contributed £12,400.

If the second round application is successful it will see £2.27m awarded to the project by the lottery, with cash contributions  from the county council, the town council and Ashington Leisure Partnership bringing the total project value to £2.7m over the next five years.

The project will mean that the Flower Park is rejuvenated and landscaped, and greenhouses and buildings are restored to provide much improved public spaces and new training facilities for the community, to be operated in partnership with Northumberland College.

The one hundred-year old park is renowned as being the place where international football legends the Charlton brothers and Jackie Milburn played as youngsters and the funding will also establish an annual Charlton and Milburn Cup tournament so that local youth groups can follow in their footsteps.

The HLF funding will allow play facilities to be enhanced with water play features reintroduced, and the colourful floral displays that the park is so fondly remembered for will also be revived.  

Councillor Ian Swithenbank, cabinet member for local services at Northumberland County Council said 'It is great to see this significant project for the area reach its next milestone.  This project will protect the park and its heritage for the community for the next century and enable generations to play, learn and relax in this wonderful space.'

The coal mining heritage of the park and local area will play a big part in the long term project with events, activities and interpretation resources being developed to explore and tell its story.

Ashington town councillor Avril Chisholm, town mayor, added  'I am very keen to see pride return to our town, and projects like this will mean that we really have something special to offer. I am enthusiastic about the future of Ashington and look forward to seeing this project become part of positive change. The submission is certainly comprehensive, and I look forward to the next steps.'

Some of the great things the Hirst Revival project plans to deliver:

  • The lost garden of Hirst will be recreated and links between the recreation ground and Flower Park will be opened up.
  • Horticultural training including courses to help families grow their own vegetables.
  • Research activities and events to engage local people to help us discover more about the heritage of the park, people and the area.
  • A play zone, including a water play feature and wildlife areas.
  • The former site of the Woodhorn monument will be developed into a community performance and interpretation space, telling the mining heritage story of the area.

If the bid is successful the major improvements and activities will begin in 2018.