Brand new bridges have been installed at Stewart Park’s ponds as a major restoration project gathers steam.
They’re the latest sign that work on the £8 million scheme to overhaul the historic park is well under way. The work was made possible thanks to a grant of £4.4 million under the Parks for People scheme administered by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund.
Civil contractor Hellens first removed the existing bridges and extensively re-profiled and de-silted the park’s upper ponds.
The two new timber bridges were then put into place, restoring the ponds to their original Victorian outlines.
The multi-million pound grant will transform the park with the provision of a new visitor centre, education venue, shop, training workshops and public event spaces. Work is due for completion next Spring.
Lakes, paths and woodland areas will be improved and many of the estate’s Victorian buildings will be opened up to the public.
The whole project will cost around £8 million with the balance coming from the Council, the Trustees of Stewart Park, the government’s Playbuilder scheme, the Healthy Town Programme, Middlesbrough College and work in kind from the Friends of Stewart Park.
Stewart Park Manager Dave Miller said: “Stewart Park is an asset not just for Middlesbrough, but for the region as a whole, so it’s great to see the restoration and development work really starting to take shape.
“The park has always been a popular family attraction, but these major improvements to the lakes, paths, woodland and estate buildings will make it more popular and accessible than ever.”
Stewart Park was opened to the public in 1928 and covers 47 hectares. It was originally laid out as a manor house and deer park in the early 1800s by a wealthy army major, and the entire village of East Marton was removed to create it.
It is most famous as the birthplace of Captain Cook. The site of his cottage is marked by a granite vase in the nearby Captain Cook Birthplace Museum.
The park was once in the ownership of Middlesbrough iron magnate Henry Bolckow in the nineteenth century. His elegant Marton Hall was the centrepiece of the estate which was purchased by Councillor Thomas Dormand Stewart in the 1920s.
He gave the parkland and hall to Middlesbrough residents and Stewart Park was formally opened in 1928. The Hall was demolished in 1960 after much of the building was destroyed by fire.
The park now consists of mature woodland, parkland and an arboretum with two lakes providing habitat for water fowl. The pets’ corner is home to domesticated animals, fallow deer, highland cattle, llamas and goats. The park holds nature, heritage, orienteering and tree trails, which are very popular with local schools, and hosts a number of large events, including the Cleveland Show.