Stanley Park, Blackpool
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Stanley Park is a municipal park in the town of Blackpool on the Fylde coast in the county of Lancashire, England. It is the largest park in the town, bounded by a roughly circular perimeter of 2.2 miles (3.54 km) and covering an area of 256 acres (104 ha). It is located near the geographical centre of the town to the south of the district of Layton.
As early as 1921, former Blackpool Mayor and Member of Parliament (MP) Sir Albert Lindsay Parkinson acquired a large area of land, intending to develop it into a park with the help of the town council. The council subsequently took over the land and the project, further extending the area by purchasing and demolishing some of the surrounding buildings. The task of designing the park was given to the distinguished landscape architects TH Mawson and Sons and much of the work was handled by the founder's son Edward Mawson as his father's health failed due to Parkinson's disease. The park's golf course was designed by the famous partnership of Harry Colt and Dr Alister MacKenzie, who also created the nearby Blackpool North Shore and Royal Lytham and St. Annes courses. The park was finally declared open on 2 October 1926 by the 17th Earl of Derby, Sir George Edward Villiers Stanley. It is named in honour of his father, the former Governor General of Canada, Frederick Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby KG, GCB, GCVO, PC who, from 1885 to 1886, had been the first MP for the newly created Blackpool Parliamentary Constituency having been, for 20 years before that, one of the MPs for the larger constituency of which Blackpool had then been part.
Since 1995, Stanley Park has had Grade II status (as a historically important garden) on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens and is currently undergoing extensive restoration with the help of National Lottery funding. Despite its age, the park was still the most recent park development in Blackpool until 2006 when George Bancroft Park was opened.
The park is designed with all main paths leading out radially from the circular Italian garden at the centre. At the very centre is a fountain surrounded by a number of flowerbeds and small statues.
The steps leading down to this garden from the north are flanked by two ornamental bronze lions which are copies of the Medici lions. The statues originate from Stowe House, from which they were sold in 1921. The lions will be swapped for copies in 2013, with the originals going back to Stowe House.
In the park's eastern quadrant is a large lake which is home to many water birds and is used for boating and fishing. The lake contains islands reserved exclusively for wildlife. Around the lake are situated a "trim trail" (open-air exercise facility), a bandstand with a large amphitheatre, a small crazy golf course and one of the park's two elaborate rose gardens.
The northern quadrant of the park is dominated by the 18-hole golf course which, although it is home to Blackpool Park Golf Club, remains a municipal facility. This area also contains the larger of the two rose gardens, six bowling greens and the park's central cafe. The cafe, Parks, is housed in an art deco building which has recently been reactivated after years of disuse. The cafe is close to a car park at the end of a road, Mawson Drive, leading from the main gate. Adjoining the car park is the visitors' centre, opened on 24 August 2005 by the 19th Earl of Derby.
The western quadrant is the site of a 5,000-seat cricket ground, home to Blackpool Cricket Club and regularly used for county cricket by Lancashire CCC. Stanley Park Sports Arena (which hosts a number of athletics competitions) and the Blackpool Sports Centre, containing three halls, a gym and a climbing wall, are located to the south of the cricket ground and this area also contains a putting green, Table Tennis tables and a conservatory.
The southern quadrant is dominated by playing fields but is also the location of a children's play area and the Blackpool Model Village. The Model Village is an open air ornamental village in miniature and, while not directly accessible from within the park, is enclosed inside its perimeter to the southeast. A clock tower, a memorial to Blackpool's first mayor, Dr William Cocker, is to the south of the central fountain. Tennis courts, Astro-Turf pitches and a skateboard park and BMX track are also to be found in the southern part of the park.
Stanley Park is surrounded on all sides by roads named North Park Drive, South Park Drive, East Park Drive and West Park Drive. The residential area immediately surrounding the park is one of the more affluent parts of Blackpool and most of the houses are relatively large. Although the park is normally considered to be bounded by the Park Drives, the golf course actually continues on the far side of East Park Drive and the Salisbury Woodland Gardens whose stream feeds the park's lake is also in this location. Blackpool Zoo and Blackpool Victoria hospital are to the east of the park; the zoo in particular is easily accessible from the park's main paths. The Zoo was constructed on the site of the 1929–1947 Stanley Park Aerodrome.
Blackpool Council and the Friends of Stanley Park organise a large programme of historical and nature walks and talks as well as sporting activities, musical events and children's entertainment. An events brochure can be picked up from the Stanley Park Visitor Center, libraries and Tourist Information Centers.
While the lake is not suitable for sports, most of Stanley Park's other sporting facilities are more than adequate for a variety of local sporting events. The cricket ground in West Park Drive hosts intra-county games and some first class matches and is also used for a well-attended annual Fireworks display on Bonfire Night. Local theatre groups use the park's pleasant scenery for outdoor performances. The playing fields are floodlit by night and are used by many local clubs and schools and for local tournaments. The bandstand hosts a number of public performances, mainly by local bands, during the summer months. The athletics track and field is regularly used by local senior schools for yearly school games.
Other Blackpool natural spaces
- Bispham Rock Gardens
- George Bancroft Park, Blackpool
- Kincraig Lake Ecological Reserve
- Kingscote Park, Blackpool
- Moor Park, Blackpool
- Salisbury Woodland Gardens, Blackpool
- Facts copied from the Stowe House article.
- Calley, Roy (1992). Blackpool: A Complete Record 1887–1992
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Stanley Park, Blackpool.|
- Blackpool Council – Information and brochure request
- Friends of Stanley Park – Information and fundraising activities
- Blackpool's Stanley Park – Stanley Park page at 3piers.com
- 360 degree views – Stanley Park – Panoramic view of the lake/bandstand area at bbc.co.uk
- Lancashire in Pictures – Stanley Park – Photos of Stanley Park on a winter's day at bbc.co.uk
- Cricket Archive – Stanley Park – Stanley Park cricket ground at cricketarchive.com
- Blackpool Model Village