On November 30th 2016 at 11:36am Winckley Square Gardens were officially opened by Mayor of Preston, John Collins following the £1.2m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) -supported restoration.
The Winckley Square Community Interest Company (WSCIC) celebrated the opening of Preston’s gem in the centre of the City. This included the WSCIC founding members, Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council, Preston BID, Preston Historical Society, Groundwork, Friends of Winckley Square and teachers and children from St Ignatius Catholic Primary School.
Opening the gardens, the Mayor said:
‘I am delighted to officially re-open Winckley Square. It is great to see this important and beautiful part of Preston fully restored and I am sure it will bring even more success to the area.’
Councillor John Swindells, deputy leader of Preston City Council, said:
‘Winckley Square is steeped in history and heritage. It’s a great place to work and also a great place to live. That’s what this project is all about – restoring Winckley Square to its Georgian glory and full prominence.’
Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said:
‘Winckley Square is an important base for several of the city’s professional services, and it is an excellent business location. I’m sure that these wonderful changes will greatly improve this area of the city, while helping to attract new businesses. Winckley Square is also an oasis for shoppers and city centre workers at lunchtime too.’
Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, added:
‘It is momentous to see the Winckley Square Gardens project complete. As the founder funding partner, we are incredibly pleased that the area, which is of huge significance to Preston, can be experienced in its full-glory once again.’
Simon Turner, cofounder and director of WSCIC, concluded:
‘We have created a space that wouldn’t look out of place in any major city. In 2017, we will be developing a new manifesto on how we aim maintain this great asset while identifying new initiatives to further enhance this area as a place where people live, do business, work, visit and invest in.’
David Gill, then chairman and a co-founder of the WSCIC, said:
‘Today marks the start of an exciting future for Winckley Square Gardens, it’s a landmark day for Preston. We started with a blank sheet of paper, no money and a feeling by many we wouldn’t get far… Our gratitude goes to all those partners and people who have come together to make this possible. We now hope the community will take ownership of the gardens and enjoy them for years to come.’
Andrew Mather, of the Preston Historical Society, added:
‘Winckley Square, with over 200 years of history, has now entered a very special stage in its historical significance for the people of Preston with the completion of the restoration of the Gardens, which have never looked better.’
Nathan Lee, head of HLF North West, added:
‘This project is an excellent example of successful public and private sector partnerships delivering positive change for the local environment and community. Winckley Square Gardens is a much-loved and well-used town square, which has now been returned to its former glory thanks to National Lottery players. Well done to all involved.’
Andrew Darron, Groundwork Executive Director said:
‘It has been inspiring to work alongside local business people, passionate volunteers and historians and the Local Authority – all committed to making a difference. I’m incredibly proud of the work done by our team at Groundwork.’
WINCKLEY SQUARE RESTORATION – THE NUMBERS
- Over 400 linear metres of new land drains installed to deal with historic waterlogging issues
- 153 low level LED footpath lights installed
- 630 metres of resurfaced and widened footpaths
- 30 new trees to maintain character for generations to come
- 1,600 tonnes of imported stone beneath improved footpaths, and reinforced grass event space
- 1,400 tonnes of Rootzone drainage topsoil over lower valley area
- Nearly 520 linear metres of railings repaired and repainted
- 200 tonnes Topsoil imported to improve grass areas and new planting beds
- And one new Westmorland limestone nose
Mick Goode, Director, DC & MG Associates, ‘This is the start of an exciting future for Winckley Square Gardens; it’s a landmark day for Preston. We are overjoyed with the transformation.’
A new beginning for Winckley Square
Mick was right it was the start of something special. The HLF Grant included financial support to encourage the creation of a Friends of Winckley Square (FoWS) group and fund, as part of an Activity Plan, a variety of events and activities. The first event was the public celebration of the opening of the Gardens with a very elaborate Victorian Fair in February 2017.
FoWS run annual events – the Carol Concert, which is extremity popular, takes place around the Christmas tree which is donated each year by WSCIC. Mulled wine, mince pies, hot chocolate and Peter’s Parched Peas ensures visitors keep warm!!!
FoWS also run The Big Lunch which is also an annual event when friends and families come together to chat, relax, picnic and listen to the entertainers. Pimms, prosecco and real ale are also a great attraction.
FoWS run regular Guided Walks throughout the year and also host a 2 day annual event – Heritage Weekend in September when 16 walks are offered.
FoWS produced Exhibitions which are exhibited in a variety of venues in Preston. Information about these and other FoWS events are distributed through our bi-monthly Newsletter. The Activity Plan fund paid for research workshops and one of the outcomes is a FoWS Research Team who have supplied a great deal of information for this website.
Patricia Harrison, Friends of Winckley Square, believes ‘All of the activities we run aim to raise awareness of the rich heritage and cultural significance of Winckley Square. We aim to engage visitors from near and afar to enjoy Preston’s Wonderful Georgian Square. So join us on the next step of our journey’.