Preston Park, Stockton-on-Tees
|Preston Hall Park|
|Preston Hall Park shown within County Durham|
Preston Park (officially referred to as Preston Hall Park) is a 100-acre (0.40 km2) public park located next to the River Tees, in Preston-on-Tees, England. It is highly popular and it hosts many events each year that attract people from across Teesside and further afield. Although parking for both the museum, grounds and Butterfly world is free, the museum itself charges £2 for an adult admission.
The land was originally a private residence with large grounds but has since become the property of Stockton Borough Council after being purchased from Sir Robert Ropner. and has more recently re-opened in 2012
The museum has a thriving and diverse volunteer community with its participants ranging from students to the retired. they are on the while divided into gardening volunteers, costumed interpreters on the Victorian street as well as visitor experience volunteers.
Areas of interest
Preston Park is broken into several diverse areas:
Ropner was a wealthy shipping and industrial magnate, and in common with the style of the times, demanded a home to befit his status in society.Major alterations included the addition of a Winter Garden, ballroom, entrance porch, billiards room and extensive landscaped parkland – all ‘must haves’ of the Victorian age.
The Hall & Park was served by legions of staff, from a butler and cook, through to maids and stable hands.Gardeners would tend the grounds and supply the kitchen with produce from the walled garden, the remains of which can still be seen today.
In 1937, the Hall & Park passed into the hands of a number of companies, before being purchased by Stockton Corporation (now the Borough Council) in 1947.The site officially opened as Preston Hall Museum and Park in 1953, and has continued to bring pleasure to generations of visitors young and old ever since.
Following a successful bid for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, the Museum and Park have recently re-opened following an extensive redevelopment work. The £7 million transformation has seen significant improvements to facilities, including better access, the repair and conservation of the Grade II listed building and the development of further features, interpretation and exhibits.
The flat, grassed area in front of the main house is now the main staging ground for large events held in the park. It is easily able to hold the largest of circus tents and other temporary structures. When not being used for an event, this area will often contain people playing sports or picnicking with their children. The field is used for training by a number of football teams, and a local Frisbee team. The field does however suffer from drainage problems meaning that it often becomes waterlogged.
Beside the main car park is a café operated by Stockton Borough Council.
Adjacent to the café is a play area containing a variety of traditional swings and more adventurous climbing equipment. This is enclosed by a fence to help prevent children wandering off.
Previously in front of the café lies a simple crazy golf course. Originally quite open, the bushes and trees have grown, leaving most of the course hidden from view. However, this is set for demolition in 2014-2015 to make way for a new Skate Park
Teesside Small Gauge Railway
Across the showground from the car park is a miniature railway with two trains. This only operates during the summer months. this is also home to the a club of enthusiasts. The club meets regularly on Wednesdays and Fridays in the afternoon and evening.Sundays are public running days, but during the winter club members busy themselves with maintenance and workshop time.
the quarry Wood was declared a nature reserve in 2004.It is a former Victorian Quarry that has now been reclaimed by nature. This is a popular place for younger mountain bikers, with the main attraction being "The Dippers". These are a series of dirt jumps and gravel corners created by the natural terrain. They are mostly fenced off in an attempt to protect the public from out-of-control bikes.
"The Big Dipper" is a 15 ft-deep cut in the ground which is used as a kind of half-pipe. From the top of the slope, riders can aim at a variety of take-off points on the other side, each of which provides differing amounts of "air time".
There are a variety of smaller jumps nearby, as well as some rougher cycling routes.
furthermore the quarry wood is home to a wide spectrum of wildlife including ;frogs, toads, newts, Foxes and rabbits and birds such as moorhen and Owls, as well as a host of invertebrates.
In the 1970s and 80s there was a small zoo within the park, partly covering the area now used by the playground and stretching down to the hall. It famously had a penguin enclosure. There were also llamas and chipmunks, among others.
Relocation of Egglescliffe School
In 2009 it was proposed by Ingleby Barwick Councillors that Egglescliffe School be relocated within the park with a foot bridge linking the school to the estate. The proposal was backed by the then MP for Stockton South Dari Taylor, but was strongly opposed by many residents in the local area due to the loss of valuable public park land. The Conservative candidate for the Stockton-South seat James Wharton also opposed the proposal before narrowly winning the seat in the 2010 election. Leaflets from Dari Taylor's party have since expressed regret for not opposing the development of Preston Park.
The proposal for the development (coded option D2) has now been removed as a viable option. The reasons given are that the funding for the new foot bridge would not have been granted from central government, and that "During the feasibility work undertaken, the location of the proposed bridge also raised significant engineering issues. In addition to this, any additional traffic from a community school facility could not be accommodated without significant upgrading of the road network.", and that the Preston Park allotments would have had to be moved.
From this issue was also born 'friends of Preston Park. This group, consisting of members of the public brings to attention any issues that become apparent to visitors and presents them to the management of Preston Park during meetings.
- Fury vented over Egglescliffe School site plan