The Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery have together awarded £4.7m to Gunnersbury as part of the £7.6m funding needed to restore the Park. We are expecting an announcement about the Museum/Large Mansion application soon – and hoping that it too will be favourable.
The Friends will know that is the best news we have had about the Park since 1981! The work is scheduled to finish in 2018, when we will see a mixture of improvement, restoration and transformation. The historic “core” – the gardens around the two Mansions – will be restored and the west horseshoe pond reinstated. Many of the park’s structures – arches, walls, gates, paths – will be repaired, including with the Orangery. Volunteers are already creating a Kitchen Garden and there are plans for an orchard. The centre of the park will be opened up. A new café will be built on the site of the existing one, with an addition to display the Museum’s Transport Collection (including the Rothschild carriages). Together with Capel Manor College and supported by the Friends, the Park will be providing new volunteering, training and apprenticeship opportunities.
So we welcome this massive step forward. If the Museum application is successful, we will have a secure foundation for the future. We will then be able to turn our attentions to the Small Mansion, the Stables, the development of sporting facilities and the long term management and financing of this fantastic public estate.
Gunnersbury in the future will need commitment and creativity. Only last week the HLF published their research report into The State of UK Public Parks (you can read it here) which showed the need for new forms of engagement, management and funding to enable our parks to flourish in the future.
8 July 2014