More than a walk in the park will be on offer to families as they discover the delights of a £3million revamp of a city’s “hidden gem.”
Wharton Park was founded in 1858 and hosted the first ever Durham Miners’ Gala in August 1871, offering stunning views of the cathedral and a haven away from its busy streets.
Now a new chapter is set to begin, as the overhaul of the park, which lies between North Road and Framwelgate Peth, is unveiled this weekend.
Circus performers, artists, musicians and sports coaches are preparing to welcome thousands of visitors to a weekend of events.
Guests will be able to discover its miniature car track, call into the cafe play on the putting green, take a look around the brand new heritage centre, playgrounds and fitness areas.
Councillor Neil Foster, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, arts and culture, said: “Wharton Park is one of Durham’s hidden gems and it is fantastic to see it rejuvenated and ready to welcome visitors to the city.
Wharton Park is one of Durham’s hidden gems and it is fantastic to see it rejuvenated and ready to welcome visitors to the city.Councillor Neil Foster
“For locals the park provides important green space and recreational opportunities, while with improved access and exciting new additions like the heritage centre, I hope it will be another great string in what is already a magnificent tourism bow, encouraging more and more people to come to the county.”
The restoration was carried out by the council, which put in £600,000 on top of £2.4million in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund.
On each day of the celebration re-opening weekend, between 11am and 3pm, there will be live performances, wandering storytellers, free arts and crafts, coached sports sessions, outdoor gym equipment classes and circus workshops.
Parking at the site at the weekend will be restricted to blue badge holders only, with visitors urged to use Durham’s Park and Ride on the Saturday and public transport on the Sunday.
If arriving by foot from the city centre helpers will be on hand to advise on routes into the park as access via Framwellgate Peth is very steep and an alternative route, via North Road, may be more suitable for some people.
A children’s guide has been written for young visitors to the park with the help of Framwellgate Primary School, who worked with artist Liz Million to complete the booklet.
Liz held sessions where the pupils helped her design images for the guide, which tells the story of the park, told through the eyes of children.
The booklet is left black and white for children to colour in.
For more information about Wharton Park visit www.durham.gov.uk/whartonpark