A multi-million pound cash boost from the National Lottery will ensure an historic Ashington park is restored to its former glory.

Northumberland County Council has been successful in securing a £2.29million ‘Parks for People’ grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The funding will ensure that the Flower Park is rejuvenated and landscaped, a new play area developed and greenhouses and buildings restored to provide much improved public spaces. New training facilities for the community, to be operated in partnership with Northumberland College, will also be created.

The National Lottery grant will be supported by contributions from the county council, Ashington Town Council and the Ashington Leisure Partnership, bringing the total project value to £2.7m over the next five years.

The 100-year old park is renowned as being the place where international football legends the Charlton brothers and Jackie Milburn played as youngsters. The funding will also establish an annual Charlton & Milburn Cup tournament so that local youth groups can follow in their footsteps.

The National Lottery 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 Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services, said ‘This is absolutely fantastic news for the park, local residents and the Ashington area. Thanks must go to all those who have put so much work into this scheme over the past few years to secure this extremely substantial funding commitment. 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.’

Ashington Town Council's Business Chair, Councillor Mark Purvis, added ‘On behalf of the Town Council I am are delighted with the successful outcome of the bid. Successful bids of this magnitude require a great deal of work over a period of time with a lot of this work often going unseen. The Town Council, as a major partner in the bid, now looks forward to seeing the exciting plans being turned into reality and the Park being returned to its former glory.’

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. 

The Heritage Lottery Fund’s Chief Executive, Ros Kerslake, said, on behalf of HLF and Big Lottery Fund ‘It’s difficult to overstate the importance of our public parks. Vital to our well-being and essential to biodiversity, they are highly valued spaces enjoyed daily by people from all walks of life. Hirst Park is one of the latest parks to benefit from over £900million of National Lottery funding, which over the last twenty years has played a crucial role in revitalising more than 800 parks across the UK.'

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.

The major improvements and activities are set to begin in 2018.