Landscape & Amenity Awards 2009: Best Parks or Gardens Project

WINNER: South Tyneside Council -- South Marine Park, South Shields

This will not be the last word on South Marine Park, but some of the first were written in the diary of the original park keeper in 1886. This document and the original plans of the park from the same year, were not only restored as part of the park's recent renovation but informed much of the works.

A lot depended on South Tyneside Council for a park that was much loved but in need of major works to recapture the glory recorded in that first park keeper's diary. The local authority wanted to reinstate the park's lost heritage, make it more attractive and repair or update structures.

These included a bandstand, statues, Victorian promenade and terraced waterfall. Materials were as important as design features, however, as the team prioritised quality. The park is a visual and textural showcase defined by richly toned sandstone, granite, oak, cast iron and zinc.

The restored promenading terrace with subtle lighting gives 21st-century park users as much reason to take the fresh air as their Victorian forebears. And the views are no less spectacular. The bandstand, lake and water feature, four statues and model yacht boathouse have all been restored.

Entrance gates and mini railway station have also been restored, but South Marine Park is no time capsule. A children's play area is one of several new features, as are three pieces of artwork, a host of interpretation and noticeboards and planting schemes inspired by local school children.

The friends group, meanwhile, compiled a Marine Park Memories CD of people's recollections. Right now the park offers play, recreation, peace and tranquillity. It also recently became the first park in South Tyneside to win a Green Flag Award - more reason to make a note of a visit in your diary.

FINALISTS

City of Newcastle Upon Tyne - Enslin Street/Belmont Green Community Garden

London Borough Richmond Upon Thames - Terrace Gardens

Nottingham City Council Parks and Open Spaces Service - Heathfield Park Be-Born

Terra Firma Consultancy - Leonard Cheshire Memorial Garden

Worthing Borough Council - Heene Terrace

Wrexham County Borough Council - Ponciau Banks Park, Wrexham

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