Parks are plentiful in Preston. Even though the city is known for its historic buildings, nightlife and shopping areas, there are also many beautiful areas of greenery, where residents and visitors can escape from busy city life.
The most well-known parks in Preston are Avenham Park and its partner Miller Park. They lie side by side on the north bank of the River Ribble, immediately south of Preston City Centre. These parks were created by the landscape architect Edwards Milner during the 1860’s, during the American Civil war, in order to keep cotton workers employed and to prevent the problems associated with unemployment.
Avenham Park contains Avenham Walk, the buildings the Belvedere and Swiss Chalet, the Boer War Memorial and the Rock Garden. Miller Park contains Derby Walk, and Italianate Terrace and a fountain, together with the Derby Memorial Statue.
In 2008, both Avenham and Miller Parks won the Green Flag Award, and have retained the award every year since. The award recognises the high standards of maintenance, community involvement, and overall management in a park.
Recently, Avenham Park saw the opening of its new addition, the Avenham Park Pavilion. The Pavilion is the centre for the Avenham and Miller Parks events programmes. It includes a café called the Riverside Café, which continues to attract a number of residents and visitors. In summer, the café is open between 10am and 5pm, and in winter, between 10am and 4pm, seven days a week. There is a range of delightful food and drink, which you can enjoy whilst looking out over the picturesque, award winning parks.
A number of outdoor events are hosted in these parks throughout the year including the very popular Easter egg rolling, and music festivals, including Rock in the Park. This festival, which attracted 15,000 music fans to Avenham Park, was an unbelievable success. Music stars included Tinchy Stryder, Pixie Lott and Beverly Knight. The event was organised by the Business Improvement District, Rock FM and Preston City Council, and saw the city’s bars, pubs and restaurants saw trade rocket 10%. Let’s hope the event takes place again.
Another famous park in Preston is Moor Park, the city’s oldest and largest park, located on the outskirts of the city centre. Unlike Avenham Park, Moor Park is still in need of major work to make it equal with other modern day standards. The first stage of the application is complete, as Preston City Council has been awarded £1.5 million for improvement works to the park. This fund could even increase to £2 million.
Moor Park’s facilities include a multi-use game area, for sports such as basketball, football, hockey and cricket; eight football pitches, four bowling greens, cricket wickets, hard surface tennis courts, basketball courts, and two children’s play areas.
For those who enjoy peace and serenity, Moor Park provides decorative gardens, a woodland area and the recently restored Serpentine Lake. An event for Preston Guild will be taking place in Moor Park this year, which would be a perfect time to visit one of the city’s most stunning parks.
Other popular parks in Preston include Haslam Park, which is located on the northwest side of the city. The park has a large and wide range of facilities and even has its own dedicated Park Ranger, who not only takes care of the park, but organises environmental, historical and creative events for schools, community groups and the public. This is very similar to Ashton Park, located to the far west gateway into Preston. Close to Preston docks, this park features a striking open landscape, with a variety of trees, small woodlands, flower displays and a peace garden, along with a range of other facilities.
Words by Holly Sutton. Image credits to Tony Worrall and George Thompson.