Child's play at heart of renovation

£2.1 million lottery funding bid puts children first

A £600,000 project has helped to restore parts of one of the finest Edwardian parks in the North East and has also helped prepare a £2.1 million lottery bid to rebuild other parts of the park. Landscape design firm Casella Stanger planned the refurbishment of Ridley Park in Blyth, founded in 1903. It has a new paddling area, with spray fountains through which children can run. The area has a patterned rubber resin surface, designed to give a wave effect. Pressure pads activate the sprays, which also trigger taped voices. The area can be drained and fitted with normal playground equipment in winter. A 12m-long watercourse, lined with granite setts, is designed for youngsters to walk along. The watercourse is around two metres wide and flanked by large boulders. Gardeners have planted Quercus Ilex and lilac-flowering Tamarix. Customised wood panels in various shapes surround the park. Northumberland Strategic Partnership funded the initial works. The client, Blyth Riverside Regeneration Partnership, is also applying for a further £2.1 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to upgrade the park and renew buildings. Project designer Matthew Etherington said: “It’s an extremely busy park used by thousands of people every day. The features we have installed are designed to be low maintenance and children should be able to walk through the water without slipping. “It’s a wonderful riverside park, so any plants have to be relatively hardy.”

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