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