Sefton Park gets top heritage ranking

Bandstand at Sefton Park

One of Liverpool’s most historic parks has been re-graded to give it the highest possible heritage ranking.

The 235 acre Sefton Park was built on land purchased by the city council from the Earl of Sefton, and opened in 1872 by Prince Arthur.

English Heritage has reclassified the park from Grade 11* (two star) to Grade 1, as part of a national review of registered Municipal Parks. The change in listing does not alter the boundary of the park and there are no additional statutory controls.

The change is in recognition of the fact that it is an early example of a municipal park, that its design is largely unchanged and that it is “an important element of one of England’s great industrial cities”.

Heritage chiefs also cite it as being the first to introduce French park design to England. Landscape architect Édouard André – who had worked on parks in Paris – won the competition to design the site, alongside Liverpool man Lewis Hornblower.

Mayor Joe Anderson said: “I am delighted that English Heritage have reclassified Sefton Park. It recognises the investment that has gone into restoring, maintaining and improving the site in recent years.

“Sefton Park has and always will have a special place in my heart as I used to spend long summer days there when I was a lad, and subsequently many hours there with my own children.

“We are absolutely committed to attracting more people into our parks, which is why we have introduced pedalos back on to the lake, borrowed money to upgrade the roads and made it one of the focal points for the hugely successful Liverpool International Music Festival.

“This re-grading by English Heritage shows their confidence in our work to maintain its historic features and make sure we attract as many people as possible into it.”

A £7 million restoration project was carried out in 2005, including refurbishment of the watercourses, renovation of rockeries, a new play area, extensive planting, improvements to paths and bridges and restoration of monuments.

Work was also recently completed on a £6 million programme to resurface the roads around the park, with the council borrowing the money to fund the scheme.

Mayoral Lead for Parks, Councillor Peter Mitchell, said: “There are so many reasons to visit Sefton Park, whether it’s going for a walk, enjoying a picnic, having lunch, visiting the Palm House, fishing or boating on the lake.

“More than 100,000 people spent four fantastic days in the park enjoying world class entertainment as part of Liverpool International Music Festival last month. We want to hold more events in our parks and open spaces across the city, giving more people a reason to enjoy the beautiful open spaces created by our forefathers.”

As part of the review Wavertree Botanic Garden and Park, which was listed as Grade 11 (two), has now been rated as Grade 11* (two star).

SEFTON PARK FACTFILE

• Its size is 235 acres
• The land cost £250,000 to purchase from the Earl of Sefton
• The layout was part-funded by building mansions around the perimeter
• The architects were Édouard André and Lewis Hornblower
• Its nickname is The Hyde Park of the North
• The Palm House was built in 1896 and restored in 2001
• It includes statues of Peter Pan and Eros
• The lake is popular with anglers and boaters
• There are tennis courts and a bowling green
• It includes an artificial cave – grotto – known as Old Nick’s Caves
• The Field of Hope contains thousands of daffodil bulbs which flower every spring