|Restored lodge opens doors to community
Mesnes Park lodge
AN HISTORIC building located at the gateway of Mesnes Park has reopened as part of the £6.1m project to restore the park to its former glory.
A Grade Two listed building, it houses an information point and training room for the community and other visitors. It also provides a base for staff from leisure and culture provider WLCT who manage the park, and The Brathay Trust charity, as well as acting as a local hub for Greater Manchester Police.
Stuart Murray, Chief Executive of WLCT, said: “The lodge has undergone a total transformation and its reopening marks one of the final steps in the park’s major restoration project. Not only will WLCT and our partner organisations benefit from the building, more importantly the community will be able to access it to gather information about the park and its activities, as well as having the opportunity to utilise the training room facility.”
The lodge originally opened in 1880 as the park keeper’s residence and was extended in 1928 to include a new two-storey wing.
Former Standish High Headteacher, Geoff Ashton, was one of the last people to have lived there. He said: “Menses Park was my playground growing up. I must have been at primary school when we moved in and I remember somebody saying ‘I lived in the best council house in Wigan’.”
Geoff lived in the lodge from the early 50s until the mid 70s with mum Lucy, sister Anthea and father Jack - who was the director of parks and cemeteries for the County Borough of Wigan.
“I was so lucky to have Mesnes as my back garden. It’s huge and there were so many things to do. Sunday afternoons would be spent in the café listening to the Top 20 with Alan Freeman.”
Times may have changed for today's pop pickers but the park is now looking like Geoff remembers it.
“It’s such an impressive restoration, to be able to put everything back the way they have is just wonderful. I just hope people respect it and the fact a lot of money has been spent on it. For me, Mesnes is back to what it was which is one of the finest Victorian Parks in the north west.”
An action-packed day of fun has been planned to celebrate the completion of Mesnes Park’s restoration project. People are invited to come along to The Mesnes Event on Sunday 29 September, from 12 noon-4pm, to enjoy entertainment including live music, lots of fun outdoor activities including sports taster sessions and Victorian games, and attractions such as birds of prey and history walks. There will be an official opening ceremony at 2pm.
Cllr Chris Ready, Cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “It’s wonderful to see Mesnes Park’s rich heritage brought back to life. I’m sure all those who have happy memories of spending time in the park as they grew up will enjoy visiting the lodge as well as the other facilities that have been restored in this much-loved green space.”
The restoration was made possible thanks to investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Big Lottery Fund, Wigan Council and leisure and culture provider WLCT. It has seen many features reinstated in the park including the iconic Coalbrookdale Fountain, the monument of Sir Francis Sharpe Powell monument and the shelter building. The pavilion has been revamped and now houses a café, while the playshack has been converted into a flexible activities space. There has also been significant work to repair footpaths and provide new signs, bins and benches.