Historic Durham park bids for share of £3.44m restoration cash

OURVIEW: A view of Durham Cathedral through the sculptures in Wharton Park.
OURVIEW: A view of Durham Cathedral through the sculptures in Wharton Park.
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A FUNDING plan has been lined up to return a park to its former glory as part of a £3.4million project.

Wharton Park, off North Road and Framwellgate Peth in Durham, was opened in 1858 and was the site of the first Durham Miners’ Gala in 1871.

When members of Durham County Council’s cabinet meet at Murton’s Glebe Centre on Wednesday, members will be asked to approve a stage two Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) bid.

If successful, it would result in an £3.44million investment and give the go-ahead for a restoration project by the Durham Area Action Partnership, with the support of the community and 230-strong Friends of Wharton Park group.

It would include a heritage centre and café; improvements to equipment, paths and signs; refurbishment of the amphitheatre; demolition of disused buildings; repairs to the Grade II listed Battery structure; and the restoration of the Albert the Good and The Way sculptures.

Councillor Maria Plews, cabinet member for leisure, libraries and lifelong learning at the council, said: “Wharton Park is one of Durham City’s hidden gems.

“It provides important green space and recreational opportunities for local people and visitors – but it is in need of investment.”

If the cash is not awarded, the council would need to meet essential repair costs of £737,000, but if it is, it would need to contribute £255,000 to the project.