Hesketh Park, Southport
Hesketh Park Entrance Sign
|Operated by||Sefton Council|
|Status||Open all year round|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hesketh Park.|
Hesketh Park is a public park situated near the north end of Lord Street in the Victorian seaside town of Southport, Merseyside. It was designed as a public park in the mid-19th century by Edward Kemp, and was further developed in the 20th century. The land was donated by the Rev Charles Hesketh and has many Victorian features and landscape designs.
The land Hesketh Park occupies was once (like the rest of Southport) sand dunes and beach, as the tides receded and the town of Southport grew, the need for a park was proposed. The land at the time was owned by Rev Charles Hesketh of Meols Hall, who donated the land for use as a public park. Hesketh Park was created by the Southport Commissioners through the Second Southport Improvement Act of 1865. Edward Kemp laid out the park which is of a near oval shape, possibly to the design of Joseph Paxton for whom Kemp had worked at Birkenhead Park in Liverpool. The layout cost of Hesketh Park was £12,000 and the park was officially opened in 1868. Various structures have been added to the park since it opened and some alterations have been made through the later 19th and 20th centuries, with the main alterations happeneing in 2007 when the park was restored as part of a major refurbishment and restoration scheme.
The park visitor facilities include a Cafe and Play Area which is situated on the east side of the park and also features a crazy golf, the play area was dramatically reduced due to the restoration project with a whole new play area created on one half and the other half was grassed over for a field for ball games. The park toilet facilities were also upgraded as part of the restoration project and are situated near the east entrance to the park.
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The Park has two gate houses at two of the entrances to the park. They are lived in by the park keepers and have colourful annual flower beds outside each lodge.
The Glasshouses are the green house development by where the floral displays for the park are grown, this is a private area which is not accessible to the public and is situated behind the Conservatory.
The Aviary once housed many exotic birds which included flamingos up until the late 1990s but due to neglect of the cages, the birds were removed. In 2007 as part of the park restoration project the damaged cages were removed, with the overgrown foliage and the remaining birds moved into the central remaining cages. There are future plans to restore the aviary but the project is awaiting funding[when?].
The Conservatory was once full of exotic plants, but since restoration in 2007 the plants were removed while the whole building was taken down and later restored on the same site.
The Lake is the biggest feature in the park, situated at the centre, it has a small island in the centre which was created for the wild birds which live and breed on the lake. The lake was restored to its full size with the extension to the west end of the lake in 2007, as part of the main restoration project. The lake once featured boats but since the restoration of the lake the boats have not returned to the lake.
The waterfall is situated to the north central bank of the lake. For many years the waterfall lay inactive and overgrown, up until the park restoration project which saw the revamp to the waterfall area and the removal of trees from the surrounding area.
The Floral Clock is another feature of the park that has been restored, it is planted up with annual flowers each year in the formation of the Roman numerals and a decorative pattern. Many visitors since the Victorian period have come to visit the park just to see the clock and hear the cuckoo call when the clock strikes the hour.
The Observatory is situated in the centre of the park on top of a hill. Like the many other features in the park the observatory lay vacant and in poor condition for many years but as part of the restoration project in 2007 it was also restored to working order and is used by local astronomer groups.
The Rose Garden is a formal garden dedicated to many varieties of roses and was very well known in the Victorian era. The garden still has many of the original varieties of roses which were originally growing in the Victorian era.
The Rock Garden is a feature in a crater type garden on the top of a hill, it is accessed by sloping paths and by steep steps which once led to a shelter at the top. The seating shelter was removed and a seating/ viewing area was created. The rock garden also feature specimen trees such as atlas cedars and redwood trees.
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- "Parks and Gardens UK". Parksandgardens.ac.uk. Retrieved 2010-06-05.
- "Sefton Natural Coast - Hesketh Park to Marshide RSPB Reserve". Visit Southport. 2009-01-01. Retrieved 2010-06-05.