Preston Park, Stockton-on-Tees

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Preston Hall Park
Preston Hall Park is located in County Durham
Preston Hall Park
Preston Hall Park
Red pog.svg  Preston Hall Park shown within County Durham
OS gridNZ430158
Coordinates54°32′10″N 1°20′13″W / 54.536°N 1.337°W / 54.536; -1.337Coordinates: 54°32′10″N 1°20′13″W / 54.536°N 1.337°W / 54.536; -1.337

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. Parking is free, but the Preston Park Museum & Grounds and Butterfly World have small admission charges.[1]

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.[2] and was redeveloped in 2010-12, with the Museum reopening in 2012.

The museum has a thriving and diverse volunteer community with its participants ranging from students to the retired. They carry out a range of roles in the Museum, ranging from gardening, to gallery stewarding, supporting learning to being costumed interpreters on the Victorian Street.[3]

Areas of interest[edit]

Preston Park is made up of several diverse areas:

Hall[edit]

Preston Hall it was not until 1882, when the estate and lands were sold to Robert Ropner for the princely sum of £27,500(£1,328,525.00 in modern money)[4] that the building of today was born.[2]

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, Music Room, Billiard Room, entrance portico and extensive landscaped parkland – all ‘must haves’ of the Victorian age.[2]

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, which was restored and reopened to the public in 2012.[2]

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.[2]

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.[2]

Showground[edit]

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.

Butterfly World[edit]

This building houses an environment specially controlled to allow a variety of exotic butterflies to thrive. There is a charge for entry.[5]

Café[edit]

Beside the main car park is a café operated by Stockton Borough Council.

Adventure Play Area[edit]

Adjacent to the café is an extensive play area containing a variety of traditional swings and more adventurous climbing equipment for children of all ages.

Teesside Small Gauge Railway[edit]

Across the showground from the car park is a model engineering club with a miniature railway. It operates to the public during the summer on Sunday afternoons and on bank holidays from 1pm to 4pm.

Quarry Wood[edit]

The Quarry Wood was declared a nature reserve in 2004. It is a former Victorian Quarry that has now been reclaimed by nature.[6] 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, Quarry Wood is home to a wide spectrum of wildlife including frogs, toads, newts, foxes, rabbits and birds such as moorhen and owls, as well as a host of invertebrates.[6]

Skatepark[edit]

A concrete skatepark opened on the former site of the crazy golf course in 2014. The project was built by Wheelscape and cost £25,0000. The skatepark is vary varied and suits a wide range of skill levels. [7][8]

Previous Attractions[edit]

The world's first passenger railway ran through the grounds beside the main road in the 19th Century until 1852. There was no station.[9]

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.[citation needed]

Previously in front of the café was a simple crazy golf course. However, the golf course was removed in 2014 to make way for the skatepark.

Relocation of Egglescliffe School[edit]

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.[10] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12]

References[edit]

Ponds in Preston Park
  1. ^ "Admission and Opening Times". Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "History of Preston Hall - Preston Park Museum and Grounds". Prestonparkmuseum.co.uk. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Archives, The National. "Currency converter". Nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Preston Park Skatepark - Stockton Council". Stockton.gov.uk. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  8. ^ "Skateparks Gallery - Preston Park Skatepark - Wheelscape". Wheelscape.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  9. ^ "History of Preston Hall - Preston Park Museum". Preston Park Museum. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
  10. ^ a b Gazette, Evening (12 December 2009). "Fury vented over Egglescliffe School site plan". Gazettelive.co.uk. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Friends of Preston Park - Home". friendsofprestonpark.btck.co.uk. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Friends of Preston Park - About fopp". Friendsofprestonpark.btck.co.uk. Retrieved 2 November 2017.

External links[edit]