Work on the 24-hectare Victorian park is in full swing, with operations split into three contracts. First specialist contractor Aura Conservation has been working on restoring the original terracotta Hammersley Fountain which is the centrepiece of Cauldon Grounds, which lies adjacent to Hanley Park.
Once finished it will be a fully operational fountain once more with its original dragon features restored. Aura is also responsible for entrance gates and boundary walls, as part of a £560,000 contract.
Horticon has been engaged on a contract of similar value to look after civil engineering and landscape work including rebuilding the lake edge walls, resurfacing the footpaths, particularly in the Cauldon Grounds, and installing a herbaceous border in the Cauldon Grounds. Horicon is also responsible for specialist planting around the fountain.
Then in June a main, as yet unnamed, contractor is due to start, to deliver restoration of buildings and the focus on the historic core in the centre of the park which features terraced gardens and a bandstand, in a contract worth around £2.75million.
Project co-ordinator Rob Belcher said: "We thought for quite a long time about how we would package the works, would we do one big contractor or whether we would split it up into specialisms. The last package was more done on the basis of geography, it’s the core of the park, the central terrace gardens. It seemed to be sensible to put a line around that space. We anticipate a general building contractor who will lead it and call in specialist sub-contractors as required."
Plincke Landscape was the landscape architect and LDA conducted early design work for funding applications.
The new pavilion will be used as a café and the restored, redecorated bandstand will be given a new roof, lighting and a power supply so that it can be used for performances.
Belcher added there was no reason why Stoke-on-Trent Council would not also use it for weddings, following a growing trend.
"This park has a better opportunity in the sense that it’s more central and there’s more room to hold a wedding reception. We have space for a marquee. We’re not selected an operator yet, there’s been plenty of interest in that. If it makes money that comes to us we’ll hire it out within reason."
Contractors will also restore the bathhouse as a secondary café.
Liaison officer Claire Studman, said: "There has been a lot of herbaceous planting in the centre of the park, around the pavilion, with holly and lavender near the bandstand.
"There has also been plenty of planting of different species in the Secret Garden – a small wildlife park we have been developing."
The restoration is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund through its Parks for People Programme.
Work started on the Cauldon Grounds in 2016 with the repair of boundary walls, entrances, gates and the restoration of the Hamersley Fountain.
Between now and the summer 2018 deadline, contractors will turn the main pavilion in to a cafe which will include multi-functional rooms, public toilets and a kitchen area.
They will also install four new CCTV columns and a refreshment kiosk at the northern pavilion.