Barking's oldest park has been transformed and its lido re-opened, thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Barking & Dagenham Council.
The Victorian park’s transformation began in August 2010, finished earlier this year and was officially opened on 1 June.
Originally opened in 1898, it now has a new visitor centre and café at its centre, and its 910m-long lake has been drained and de-silted, and pond dipping platforms installed around the edges. A new boating pontoon has been built, with pleasure boating returning to the park this summer.
The old lido, derelict since 1988, has been re-opened as a wet play facility called Barking Splash Park, featuring the original fountains which have been restored to full working order.
Some of the silt from the lake was cleaned and used to create new wildflower beds elsewhere in the park.
The ornamental flower beds, an original feature of the park, have been re-planted with 45,000 new plants - a job which took five people 60 days to complete, and needed 560 cubic metres of bark mulch.
Other improvements to the park include a new playground, two new car parks and boundary fence, extra benches, toilets, better footpaths and improved signage.
Old favourites like the miniature railway, skate park and tennis courts are still there for people to enjoy.
In February 2008 the council secured a £3.5m grant from the HLF’s Public Parks initiative (a precursor to HLF's current Parks for People scheme). This was brought up to £7.5 million with contributions from the council and other sources.
Bert Collins, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said: “Barking Park is the borough’s oldest park, and with more than 700,000 visits per year it’s also one of the most popular. There was a need for some new facilities to keep the park up to date, so we were delighted to be able to secure the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund.”
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