Sitting around a mile inland from the world-famous Blackpool Tower and promenade is Stanley Park. Estimated to receive around two million visitors annually this 104-hectare space is the winner of England's Best Park 2019.
The establishment of the park came about following significant population growth in Blackpool in the late 19th century which, along with the town's status as a holiday resort for industrial workers across Lancashire, persuaded the Council that such a space was required. Renowned landscape architect and town planner, Thomas Mawson, who was born in the county but designed parks across Europe and Canada, drew up plans which were implemented in the 1920s. Stanley Park was opened in 1926 by the 17th Earl of Derby.
The space is dominated by its iconic features with impressive Italian Gardens at its centre flanked on one side by an Art Deco café and clock tower in memory of the first mayor of Blackpool, Dr William Cocker, and on the other by a bandstand with amphitheatre-style seating. A large boating lake frames these features.
Stanley Park also boasts an abundance of sporting facilities, whilst a play area, shuttle train and Model Village ensure the space provides something for everyone with its nominator for UK's Best Park 2019 writing: "It is loved by locals and visitors alike, a beautiful, tranquil place away from the hustle and bustle of the Blackpool seafront. Great volunteers and staff keep it in tip top condition".
The park is no stranger to success in the UK's Best Park award, having taken the overall title in 2017, and is home to the active Friends of Stanley Park who meet regularly in the visitor centre next to the café. The group organise numerous events throughout the year including a series of popular concerts at the bandstand which regularly see visitors packed into the surrounding space.
"It is loved by locals and visitors alike, a beautiful, tranquil place away from the hustle and bustle of the Blackpool seafront."
Nomination for UK's Best Park 2019
Speaking to the Blackpool Gazette, Cllr Gillian Campbell, Blackpool Council Deputy Leader, said: "We're absolutely delighted Stanley Park has been recognised by the public as being the best park in England and are so proud of the joint effort that goes into keeping it clean, vibrant and somewhere for families to enjoy all year round".
The park's success was also recognised by local MP, Gordon Marsden, who tweeted his congratulations.
Congratulations to Stanley Park on being named Best Park in England - Jewel in Blackpool's Crown. Well done to everyone involved including Elaine Smith, Sean Gallagher, who runs popular Art Deco Cafe there and Council's Parks Department, who work tirelessly with @BlackpoolFoSP pic.twitter.com/JYGkWC7fev— Gordon Marsden MP (@GordonMarsden) August 29, 2019
Stanley Park was one of 281 spaces in England nominated for UK’s Best Park 2019. Of those, 55 placed within the top 20% of nominations across the UK and received "Much Loved" status. The overall winners in the other English regions were Lake Meadows in Billericay for East of England, Danson Park in Bexley for London, Alexandra Park in Hastings for the South East, Page Park in Bristol for the South West, Telford Town Park for the West Midlands, Kings Park in Retford for the East Midlands, Beaumont Park in Huddersfield for Yorkshire and the Humber and South Park in Darlington for the North East. Each "Much Loved" space will receive a certificate denoting its status.
Stanley Park joins the other three Home Nation winners - Antrim Castle Gardens, Cyfarthfa Park in Merthyr Tydfil and Pittencrieff Park in Dunfermline - on the shortlist for UK's Best Park 2019. The overall winner will be announced on Thursday 12th September.
Pictures with thanks to Elizabeth Gomm and the Friends of Stanley Park.
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