Swindon Borough Council and its partners in the business and public sector are celebrating the news that The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded £3 million towards the restoration of Lydiard Park.
This funding enables work to begin in September to restore Lydiard Park to its former glory, with the reinstatement and restoration of principal garden features like the lost lake, together with the upgrading of visitor amenities, and new opportunities for access, education and recreation. Altogether the cost will be £5.3 million.
Above, the Lydiard lake now
One of the most dramatic changes will be the restoration of Lydiard’s lost lake and major improvements to the current upper lake. Together these lakes will, once again, create a beautiful setting to the house and park and establish a haven for wildlife.
The restoration plan also includes works to upgrade the paths and drives around the park, putting in a new bridge where the upper and ‘lost lake’ meet, the planting of thousands of new trees and restoring the massive dam wall. An exciting new playground is planned and a stunning ornamental fruit and flower garden will be reinstated in the walled garden.
There will also be extensive restoration and conservation work to the 18th Century stable building to open up a new specially designed school room, facilities for community volunteer and horticultural apprentices as well as new public toilets.
Access for people with disabilities will be greatly improved by opening up the courtyard entrance as the main pubic entrance to Lydiard House.
The lake after restoration, in the Autumn of 2006
Nerys Watts, Heritage Lottery Fund Manager in the South West commented: "Lydiard Park is enormously popular and a real heritage gem that will be transformed by these improvements. As well as giving the park a physical makeover, the project will bring its past to life through a range of education and recreation schemes, raising awareness both of this wonderful site and the wider heritage of Swindon as a whole."
Mike Bawden, Leader of Swindon Borough Council said: "Lydiard Park is recognised nationally as one of the region’s great treasures. Town Clerk, David Murray John recognised its potential back in 1943 when Swindon Corporation purchased the site for the people of Swindon. Now with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and our project partners, we can complete his great vision for this site by restoring Lydiard’s historic gardens and parkland for the benefit of local people and visitors to our town. A restored Lydiard Park will be a tremendous asset for Swindon."
The Lydiard Park Project Board, which includes representatives from Swindon Council, English Heritage, business partners RWEnpower, the BMW Group and Intel UK Ltd and the new charity, The Friends of Lydiard Park met on Friday 1st July at Lydiard house to formally mark the start of the restoration works schedule.
Celebrating the launch of the Lydiard Project on 1 July, from left, Denys Hodson, former director of Arts and Recreation at Thamesdown Borough Council and chair of the Friends of Lydiard Park, Mike Bowden, Executive Director of RWE npower, Swindon Borough Council Nick Martin, chair of the Lydiard Project Board, Sarah Finch-Crisp, keeper of Lydiard House, Bob Bewley, SW Regional Director of English Heritage, John Fowler, Intel Community Affairs Manager, Bob Bolam, Managing Director of BMW Group Plant Swindon
Nick Martin, the cabinet member responsible for Lydiard Park said: "Restoring Lydiard Park to its Georgian glory will bring back ancient scenery often pictured in novels by historic writers such as Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. When work is complete, we, the people of Swindon, will possess a splendid visitor attraction of which we can be justifiably proud."
Mike Bowden, Executive Director of RWE npower, which has backed the project from its earliest stages, says, "The confirmation of a ?3million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund is another exciting milestone in the restoration of Lydiard Park. It just shows what can be achieved when the local authority, national agencies and local companies such as npower act in partnership and all pull together. This is a very exciting day for Swindon and as all these partnerships continue to flourish I am confident that this will be the first in a long line of success stories."
Bob Bolam, Managing Director of BMW Group Plant Swindon, which are targeting their support into the restoration of Lydiard’s 18th Century coach house and stable building for the benefit of local schools and community groups, said: "We are thrilled that the Lydiard park Project has received the ?3million award it needed to enable works to start on the restoration of Lydiard. BMW Group Plant Swindon is delighted to support a project that will benefit the whole community."
John Fowler, Intel Community Affairs Manager whose employees are beginning a range of activities at Lydiard said: "It is fantastic news that Lydiard has won the Heritage Lottery Fund award. This is just the springboard that we at Intel were hoping for. Our volunteers are really keen to get stuck into a whole range of exciting community projects. These will include, potentially, Education, IT and garden restoration initiatives. Our links have become stronger with the local community as a direct result of this joint venture with Lydiard."
Bob Bewley, SW Regional Director of English Heritage, which is backing the project with financial support for training and apprenticeship opportunities, said: "The Lydiard Project is a unique opportunity for bringing together a wide variety of people with an even greater range of skills to restore this landscape for the people of Swindon and beyond. Training and apprenticeship will mean that some of the traditional skills required in the region will not be lost and future projects can rely on those trained at Lydiard."
Pleased after thirteen years of development work, Sarah Finch-Crisp, keeper of Lydiard House
Denys Hodson, Chair of the Friends of Lydiard Park said: "Many of our members have known and loved Lydiard for many years. I hope I speak for us all when I say how privileged we feel to be playing a part in this fine endeavour."
Mike Bawden added: "When I was Mayor of Swindon between 1982 and 1983, I remember walking round Lydiard Park with the then Director of Parks and Recreation Denys Hodson, who expressed his ambition to restore the lake and grounds in the park. Now that ambition is going to be realised."
Heritage Lottery Fund: www.hlf.org.uk