Lottery celebrates 25-year love affair with public parks

In 2019, the National Lottery Heritage Fund celebrate 25 years of supporting heritage good causes around the country.

In that time, it has invested £1.6billion of National Lottery money in landscapes and nature. That includes more than £950m in public parks and cemeteries.

The fund recognised early on the value of investing in public parks, and over 25 years its grants have reached every corner of the UK, providing benefit to the 37m people that use public parks every year.

In 2006 it was joined in our support of parks by The National Lottery Community Fund, helping yo expand the work in transforming public parks.

Highlights of the fund's park projects over the past quarter-century includes:

  • Antrim Castle Gardens, an 8th-century Anglo-Dutch water garden, was transformed. It has been an amazing success since receiving funding in 2006. This year it won a Tourism Northern Ireland award for Authentic Northern Ireland Experience of the Year.
  • Funding also helped to shine a light on the miniature masterpiece of design that is York Gate Gardens. Tucked away in the village of Adel on the outskirts of Leeds, it’s a magnificent example of the Arts and Crafts movement in garden form. In 2017 it was named by The Times as "the seventh best garden to visit in the UK".
  • Dean Castle Country Park in East Ayrshire, Saughton Park in Edinburgh, and Holywells in Ipswich are leading the way on the accessibility front with Changing Places toilets. These extra-large bathrooms meet the needs of all people with a disability and ensure equal access to an enjoyable day out.
  • There are more than 1,300 Changing Places toilets around the UK.
  • Brooke Park (pictured) is another lovely example from Northern Ireland. Conservation volunteers help manage the park, which features wheelchair-friendly play equipment, and is one of the few large green spaces in Derry City.
  • Marine Cove Gardens in Burnham-On-Sea in Somerset is possibly one of the smallest green spaces we’ve ever funded. The tiny but perfectly formed 0.17 hectare of formal gardens was originally part of an old vicarage site. Almost a decade on from the award, it is still going strong, and the much-loved lion head fountain remains in use.
  • The Friends of Zion Graveyard, in Attercliffe, revitalise the very small and forgotten graveyard, located in the middle of a Sheffield industrial estate. The graveyard is the resting place of Mary Anne Rawson, one of the leading anti-slavery campaigners of the 19th century.
  • Dead Space to Living Place is another great cemetery project, in Berkhamsted. It’s a small green space with a committed volunteer group. They inspire wonderful community involvement through activities ranging from the recent book festival to adopt-a-grave gardening scheme and volunteer social events.
  • The beautiful Whitworth Art Garden, part of The Whitworth Gallery (which was transformed with £15m of National Lottery funding), takes the exhibition space beyond the gallery walls. It houses outdoor sculptures, as well as an orchard garden and wildflower area for relaxation and reflection.
  • Burnby Hall Gardens is home to one of the best collections of hardy water lilies in a natural setting in Europe and attracts around 50,000 visitors a year. The 2016 funding helped renovate the park’s lakes – revitalising the lilies and improving conditions for the ornamental fish that live in them.

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