Heritage London & South East

Restoring Victoria Park

Victoria Park Restoration- London Bridge

A £12.4 million project to restore Victoria Park to its former glory has been completed.

Work began on the historic London park project in January 2011 and was completed in July 2012. The project comprised the renovation of two large play areas – complete with associated equipment – the construction of a brand new skate park, the restoration of the Old English Gardens and the construction of a new community building situated on the east side of the park.

In addition, a number of structures were also restored at the park, including the Grade II Listed stone alcoves from the original London Bridge and the Burdett Coutts drinking fountain. Access was also improved to features such as the Bandstand and the East Lake.

Meanwhile a new Chinese Pagoda and bridge was installed on the West Lake, whilst the entrance and gates to the park, as well as a number of balustrades on Bonner Bridge received a makeover to complete the stunning restoration.

The Victoria Park Restoration project was funded by Tower Hamlets Council in partnership with The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, said:

“The refurbishment was a once in a life-time opportunity to bring a much loved park up to date and the multi-million pound transformation has ensured that the park continues to provide excellent facilities for years to come.

“I am proud of the investment which has been made as it really is the jewel in the crown for the borough.”

Osborne was the main contractor on the restoration project, whilst Landscape Design Architects provided all architectural design work on the site.

Halcrow Yolles was the mechanical and electrical consultant and Dossor Group was the structural consultant.

Victoria Park is an 86 ha public park, which first opened to the public in 1845 and was designed by Sir James Pennethorne. Victoria Park is one ofLondon’s most important historic parks and its oldest public park. It has been used by millions of Londoners for nearly 170 years as a place of healthy recreation, sports, play and relaxation.

Victoria Park Restoration- London Bridge

It serves a large residential population and also attracts many tourists and visitors from outside of the borough. A wide range of formal and informal sports, sponsored activities, events and festivals take place throughout the year.

The decision was taken to refurbish many of the original features in the park along with adding new features.

Tower Hamlets Victoria Park Development Officer, Shane Carroll, said:

“Two play areas – one in the east and one in the west – were upgraded with new features, including water play facilities and we also have three lakes on the site which were all given a new look.

Victoria Park Restoration- London Bridge

“The west side was remodelled to include an island and it was here that we rebuilt the Chinese Pagoda and added the Chinese bridge now called thePennethorneBridge.

“Hire row and peddle boats were also returned to the lake. TheEastLakewas also redesigned and a smaller island added. With funding and advice from the Environmental Agencies fisheries department we plan on encouraging community groups and schools to participate in fishing on this lake.

“The third lake is called the model boating lake, and is one of the largest in theUK. It was drained like the other two lakes and benefited from new marginal planting. New bore holes were dug on both sides of the park to provide water for the lakes.

Victoria Park Restoration- London Bridge

“The Old English Gardens whilst popular had become overgrown and in need of replanting. The original paving was removed during the works and re-laid after to fit the new design. A water feature was added along with new shrubs and perennials.

“One of the most important features of the park is the Burdette Coutts drinking fountain. It is a memorial drinking fountain, donated to the park in 1862 by Angela Burdette Coutts. Restoration work was carried out on the stone features and pluming. New formal bedding areas were added along with four new mirror pools. A new weathervane was also installed.”

Victoria Park Restoration- London Bridge

Along with the restoration works on the site a new building, called the Hub, was constructed in the park. The facility includes a cafe and offers a dual role as it will be used for community events and exhibitions as well as providing a base of operations for site staff.

Whilst work took place at Victoria Park the site remained open to the public, so site staff did their best to work around park visitors and local wildlife, with some work scheduled to take into account nesting seasons for birds.

To further facilitate the work, the lakes were also drained and for health and safety reasons they were fenced off from the public. The playgrounds, Burdett Coutts and the construction site of the Hub were also temporarily closed off.

Victoria Park Restoration- London Bridge

Osborne Managing Director, Tommy Chambers, said:

“The whole community have joined us in refurbishing this magnificent park, with residents getting involved in planting, and some local school children painting murals to go on our hoardings while the work was taking place. With the park remaining open throughout the renovation works, we made communication with residents and staff a key priority, so they knew what was going on and why.

“This park has been a key feature of the local landscape and in the lives of its residents since 1845. These renovations have been designed to improve the experience for visitors while complimenting the park’s Victorian heritage.”

Victoria Park has already won an award at the People’s Choice Awards 2011 in the category of Favourite Park and retained it Green Flag award for 2012.

Mayor Rahman added:

“The park was always considered to be a great amenity for the people of East London and I feel that with this project now complete we have ensured that it continues to maintain its status as a park for the whole of London.”

Victoria Park Restoration- London Bridge

Duncans Groundworks

Duncans Groundworks specialises in all aspects of groundworks, predominately for park restoration projects, with works including the construction of new roadways, lakes and associated areas. The company has been in operation for over 15 years and in this time has completed work on a number of projects, including many park restoration schemes in London.

On the Victoria Park Restoration project, Duncans Groundworks created new roadways, drained and lined the lakes, installed new paving and completed earthworks. Duncans Groundworks was involved with the project for 18 months.

Duncans Groundworks Company Owner, George Duncan, said:

“This was a great project to be involved with and fitted in perfectly with the type of work that we specialise in. We completed the work on time and to the best of our ability.”

Victoria Park Restoration- London Bridge

Titan Civil Engineering 

Established in 1972, Titan Civil Engineering specialises in paving, groundworks, utilities, formwork and civil engineering works across a broad range of projects and also has a dedicated maintenance division. Clients include the London Borough of Hackney, McAlpine and Osborne, whilst previous high profile works include the installation of utilities and paving for the O2 Arena (formerly the Millennium Dome) and the construction of relief roads for the Channel Tunnel road link.

For the Victoria Park Restoration project Titan Civil Engineering utilised specialist York stone to install paving around the Old English Gardens, the lakes and Burdett Coutts.

Titan Civil Engineering Managing Director, Paddy Donnelly, said:

“Victoria Park was a very important project to be involved with. I worked on one of the lakes over 22 years ago, so to return was fantastic. The site has now been completely transformed.”

Paddy Donnelly added:

“At Titan Civil Engineering we are most proud of the quality of our work. We are currently involved with a number of schools in South London and this is down to the timescale and the quality of our work.”

Victoria Park Restoration- London Bridge

Sarum Hardwood Structures Ltd

For over twenty-five years, Sarum Hardwood Structures has specialised in the design, manufacture and installation of timber footbridges, light vehicular bridges, jetties and boardwalks and associated structures. Sarum Hardwood Structures Ltd installs footbridges within public spaces, including residential and commercial developments and has completed a number of high profile installations including the award winning Pennington Road Bridge, for Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council.

On the Victoria Park Restoration project, Sarum Hardwood Structures manufactured and installed the feature ‘Rustic Bridge’, constructed in European Oak.

Sarum Hardwood Structures Ltd Contracts Manager, Julian Smith, said:

“The design for the bridge at Victoria Park had already been carried out by the Dosser Group and this design was essentially adopted, along with a few minor amendments, before we carried out the fabrication and installation work on the bridge.”

Julian Smith added:

“At Sarum Hardwood Structures we are very proud of the quality of our end product. We have a great engineering department with a fantastic manufacturing facility and there are not many companies in this field that would be able to provide a bridge of this type.”

Victoria Park Restoration- London Bridge

Frametech Essex Ltd

Frametech Essex Ltd specialise in structural carpentry work for the construction industry, working with main contractors and timber engineering specialists alike. The company was set up in 2000 and during this time has completed many prestigious projects.  Recently these have included the roof structure to the Sri Lankan Consulate in London for Jerram Falkus, a new low carbon Visitors’ Centre in Prittlewell and are currently undertaking a complex steel and timber Mansard roof structure to an existing apartment block in Wood Green, partnering with Bartram Timber Limited.

Within Victoria Park, Frametech Essex Ltd were responsible for the construction of the Chinese Pagoda, cladding works to the Pennethorne Bridge and the reconstruction of the listed Rustic Shelter.

Frametech Essex Ltd Technical Manager, Marcus Luckett, said:

“The Victoria Park scheme showcased our skills very well. Due to the nature of the project the works required ranged from heavy structural elements, complex loose cut structure and detailed finishes.

“We pride ourselves in our ability to undertake all types of structural carpentry work. Both myself, and owner Andy Perkins have worked within the timber engineering sector for many years, encompassing all types of projects. This allows us to offer our clients greater confidence in our ability to complete works to the highest standard, safely and on programme.”

Victoria Park Restoration- London Bridge

 Redhouse Forge

For over 15 years, Redhouse Forge has completed bespoke feature ironwork for a broad range of projects, from restoration and conservation schemes through to high-end private developments. Redhouse Forge previously completed work on the Bishop’s Square development – which included the design and construction of 4m high stainless steel feature gates on the site – and has also provided bespoke work for a range of listed buildings.

On the restoration of Victoria Park, Redhouse Forge completed important restoration work on the Burdett Coutts memorial drinking fountain.

Redhouse Forge Director, Stephen Anderson, said:

“When we first started on the project there was a small stub of a weather vane remaining on the fountain, so we conducted extensive research to uncover what had originally appeared on the structure.

“After much investigation we discovered that the fountain had originally been topped by a gold leafed statue of a mermaid. Sat on her tail and holding a goblet in the air she would turn in the wind to indicate wind direction. The design was very unique and no one had seen anything quite like it before.

“So we recreated the 3D mermaid using traditional techniques in copper and gold leaf, installed  new cardinals and wrought ironwork and completed a number of additional repair works on the site to revitalise the fountain.”

Steven Anderson added:

“We are local to the site, so it was very important to be a part of this project. We pride ourselves on our ability to meet the challenges that we are presented with.”

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