Cannons, statues and the Belverdere a short history of Avenham Park landmarks

Posted on - 10th December, 2016 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Avenham, History, Observations, Opinion, Parks, Preston City Centre, Preston News
The 'peace' cannon and the frog in Avenham Park

The ‘peace’ cannon and the frog in Avenham Park

The recent Heritage lottery funded restoration of Avenham and Miller parks has highlighted the presence of a number of art works that can be viewed when visiting. Some are better known than others. The Dolphin fountain has been repaired back to its original condition while the carved stone frog is perhaps less well known. The Sevastopol canon are another recent example of a restored historical landmark. The council’s public art policy states:


”Public art can make a major contribution to giving a place character and identity, bringing people into and through places”.

The original cannons were removed in the 1960’s leaving a bare mounting plinth with a carved “Sevastopol” inscription. The replacements were not without controversy, as can be seen in the image, someone has written “peace” on the barrel of the cannon. Such a war like object in a peaceful location upsets some sensibilities. Often public art can arouse strong emotions and some installations have been destroyed in other cities.

History of the parks

Dolphin fountain and the entrance to the park

Dolphin fountain and the entrance to the park

There are two Grade II listed Victorian parks in Preston both are adjacent to each other on the banks of the Ribble. Designed by Edward Milner, they were Built in the 1860’s. The parks are separated by the embankment of the East Lancashire railway.

Read more: A history of the ghost railway line running through Preston

You can't currently get through from the park to the station

You can’t currently get through from the park to the station

This railway ran into a dedicated platform at Preston’s main station. The viaduct over the river has recently had a new surface applied and it is intended that the path will be linked to the Fishergate car park.

The railway bridge in the park

The railway bridge in the park

What to see in the parks?

Here we take a look at what can be explored in the parks and the history of the objects.

The cannons

The original cannons were presented to the town in 1855 after they were captured at Sevastopol in Russia, during the Crimean war. The Crimean war was fought between Russia and an improbable alliance of France, Britain, The Ottoman Empire and Sardinia. The causes were known for never having a "greater confusion of purpose". Religious differences and the desire of Britain and France to prevent Russian expansion are thought to be the main causes of the conflict.

In 2008 “Lost Art” were commissioned to restore the railings, gates and signs for Avenham and Miller parks. At the same time, they created replicas of the two-ton cannon, at a cost of £350,000.

The cannons in the park

The cannons in the park

The Belvedere

The Belvedere pavilion was also renovated in 2008, it originally stood at the location now occupied by the Earl of Derby statue. The building constructed in 1865, is Grade II listed and originally cost £465. There are magnificent views across the park and the bridges over the Ribble, from this location.

The Belverdere

The Belverdere

Lord Derby statue

There is a statue dedicated to Lord Derby, he was three times prime minister in the nineteenth century. Named Edward Smith-Stanley he was from a wealthy landowning family. Knowsley hall in Lancashire was the family seat. Lord Derby is still the longest serving Conservative leader at 22 years.

The Earl of Derby statue

The Earl of Derby statue

Avenham and Miller parks are probably the best in Lancashire for interest and places to explore.

Read more: These Preston parks have been given top honours

Interesting public art in Preston?

Email the author at to get a free 30-page flip-book magazine on public art in Lancashire. Use the subject line “Free art mag issue 1” and he will email you the link and password.

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