A £6.4 million restoration project to restore Stewart Park back to its former glory is nearing completion.
The Stewart Park Parks for People Lottery project was implemented by Middlesbrough Council in order to restore and improve facilities at the historic parkland in Marton. The project includes the restoration of four Victorian Grade II listed stable yard buildings and the construction of a brand new visitor centre, alongside a number of major landscape improvements to lakes, paths and woodland areas.
Lumsden and Carroll – part of the Esh Group – is the main contractor for the stable yard contract, whilst Hellens is the main contractor for the Park’s contract. Both works are running concurrently.
Brand new facilities at the park will include a cafe, a ranger’s station, an interpretation base, public toilets, a designated events areas and new vocational training facilities.
All of the facilities will be DDA compliant and designated disabled car parking space will be provided. An existing car park on the site is being upgraded, whilst hard landscaped areas will benefit from external lighting that will brighten up areas of the park during the evening.
Additional landscaping work – being undertaken by civil contractor Hellens – includes the creation of new footpaths; restoration work to a temple, colonnade and commemorative vase and a number of new planting schemes around the park.
It is estimated that approximately 400,000 annual visitors will benefit from the works at Stewart Park.
Napper Architects Limited is the architect and Southern Green Limited is the landscape architect on the project. The mechanical and electrical consultant is URS Scott Wilson, the structural consultant is WSP Group and the quantity surveyor is Faithful + Gould.
The project has been funded by Trustees of Stewart Park, Heritage Lottery and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG).
Work commenced on the project in March 2011 with Mouchel as the project manager. Although structural alterations to the stable yard Victorian buildings have been kept to a minimum, a wall and chimney were removed from one of the buildings to increase room size. Meanwhile a section of the first floor was removed in the new cafe to provide a double-height space and expose the original roof beams.
Restoration improvements have included re-pointing walls, refitting roofs with original slates and painting refaced internal brickwork. In addition, decayed timber has been replaced and stone flags in the kitchen and toilet areas have been lifted and replaced. Services have also been altered to allow underfloor heating and the cafe has been refitted with commercial catering equipment and sinks.
Every effort has been made to carefully restore and preserve the features of the heritage buildings. An archaeologist was onsite during the early stages of construction to offer advice and record findings, whilst bat slates and a dedicated loft have been fitted to protect the bats that nest on the site.
The new visitor centre, which will be an extension of one of the existing buildings, has been designed in a contemporary manner to juxtapose the 1864 Victorian scale and detail of the existing buildings. The extension has been constructed using a laminated timber glulam frame with double glazed windows, oak cladding and a zinc roof.
Once construction is complete, the facilities will all be fitted out with furniture including foldaway tables, chairs and desks. All of the buildings will also be fully fitted with CCTV, smoke detectors, fire alarms and sprinklers.
During the restoration and redevelopment works, the park and offices outside of the construction sites have remained open to the public.
Napper Architects Company Director, John Curtis, said:
“The majority of the architectural work that has been undertaken concentrates on restoring the Grade II listed buildings, however we are also adapting them accordingly to meet our brief. We respect the history of the buildings and so all efforts are being made to conserve the structures as best as we can whilst giving them a new lease of life.
“As a conservation architect, it is wonderful to be involved with a project like this. We have used traditional building techniques and materials in order to recognise and respect the heritage values.
“Everyone involved with the project is really positive and that’s a very important aspect of working on any development. Middlesbrough Council has also been a wonderfully informed client throughout the project and has fully recognised the need to restore the buildings.”
The Stewart Park Parks for People Lottery project will be completed in April 2012.