Cafe workers save Longford Park’s pets corner

As reported by Amy Glendinning on the April 21st 2014 (View the Article).

A pets’ corner threatened with closure due to council cuts is to be saved - and run as an urban farm.

Members of the Uprising Bakery co-operative, who run Longford Park’s cafe, are to take over the space currently home to over 100 birds and rabbits.

They plan to raise goats, chickens and geese there - as well as growing fruit and veg.

The group, who took over the cafe from Trafford Council last year, are due to sign a contract with the council in a few weeks’ time and should get the keys by the end of April.

And after appealing for volunteers to help look after the animals last week, over 50 people have already signed up - with training due to start in May.

Members of Uprising Bakery, who bake and sell artisan breads, stepped in when the council announced it could no longer afford to keep it running.

Under the plans, the hundred odd budgerigars and parrots currently living there will be re-homed, with the aviary torn down.

The space will then be used to keep goats plus ducks and chickens, whose eggs will be on sale.

Dozens of rabbits, chickens and parrots could be made homeless as part of town hall cuts.

Fruit and vegetables including gourmet cooking ingredients will be grown there along with proposals for gardening classes and pick-your-own fruit beds.

Janey Riley, a member of the nine-strong Uprising Bakery co-operative, said: “Because we’re based in the park the general public are really important to us, it’s about the experience people have when they are here.

“When we heard the pets’ corner was to close we didn’t want to see it go and I think people who use the park looked to us to do something.

“Two of our members are already growing on land outside Manchester and another is a horticulturalist, so they are passionate about urban growing and we can use those skills.

“I don’t think pets’ corner is particularly educational for older children so we want to run something more interactive with feeding times for the animals where they can get involved.”

A Trafford Council spokeswoman confirmed they were in negotiations with a community group but would not say who, adding in a statement: “We are currently in meaningful dicussions with community groups to develop a way forward for facilities at Longford Park.”

Call for volunteers to help save pets’ corner in Longford Park

As reported in the Stretford and Urmston Messenger 15th March 2014 by Kate Banks (View the Article)

FANS of Pets’ Corner in Longford Park are appealing for volunteers to help run it following the council’s decision to withdraw funding.

Trafford Council is currently responsible for the pets’ corners in Longford Park and John Leigh Park, in Altrincham, but will cease to be from April, following executive members’ approval for a package of budget cuts on February 19.

A spokesman for the council said the move is necessary to meet the projected £17m budget deficit facing the council this year, but is in talks with the Friends of Longford Park group and Uprising Cafe to establish an alternative model.

n fact Janey Riley, who is one of the directors of Uprising, hopes the cafe can take over the management of the pet’s corner under a service licence agreement and thinks the attraction can be better than ever.

Janey said the cafe already makes preservatives, brews beer and teaches people to bake bread, but hopes to extend micro-food production by introducing laying hens and goats which can produce milk – which can then be used in the cafe.

While the cafe would manage the pets corner, volunteers are needed to help look after the animals and many people have already expressed an interest.
People wanting to volunteer should email Sue Simpkins on longford.petscorner@yahoo.co.uk.

Sue said: “The more people who volunteer the better it will be as then people will have to give up less of their time.”

Council leader, Cllr Sean Anstee, said: “It is pleasing to see that an agreement appears close to being reached to allow the facility to remain open for the community to use and I am grateful to all those involved to date.

“The scale of the financial challenge we face is unprecedented, but Trafford and its communities continue to show resilience to it as we seek to collectively work together to maintain facilities for all to use.”

Longford councillor, Anne Duffield, said: “We are now more hopeful that pets’ corner can remain in Longford Park and that local people will come forward to volunteer.

“Negotiations are on-going with Trafford Council about the level of funding that will be available to support this.”

New facilities for Longford Park

The following news release was issued by Trafford Council on the 25th July 2013 :-

A new café in Longford Park, Caffeine and Co, opened to the public on Sunday 21st July.

The café, housed in the Edwardian Bungalow which has now been fully renovated, will bake its own bread on the premises in partnership with Uprising Bakehouse, a small bakery from Manchester started by a group of people intent on reviving real bread in the community. The bakery is passionate about using almost entirely seasonal, locally sourced ingredients and authentic, organic products.

The café will initially offer a range of snacks and refreshments and once fully operational will also serve more substantial meals. As well as warm scones being served fresh from the oven at 3pm daily, customers can also enjoy a full brunch menu at weekends, slow cooks and stews for lunch as well as homemade kid’s lunches and occasional summer barbecues.

In addition, the building will also house a disabled toilet and changing facility for children and adults with disabilities. This is one of only two such units in Trafford, making the park accessible to parents and carers, meaning they can spend longer hours outside of the home and enjoy their day in the park.

The new facilities have been made possible due to funding from Aiming High, an initiative to improve services for disabled children and their families.

Executive Councillor Alan Mitchell commented: “The park has been crying out for this kind of facility for a number of years and I’m sure it will be a much welcomed addition to the community. I look forward to its use and enjoyment by local people.”

Work begins on new cafe for Longford Park

The following news release was issued by Trafford Council on the 3rd February 2012 :-

An exciting project to create a new cafe in Longford Park is under way.

The café will be housed in one of the park’s original buildings, an Edwardian bungalow, which is currently undergoing a sensitive renovation. Works also include the creation of a fully accessible Changing Places toilet and a new external paved seating area.

Manchester and Cheshire Construction have commenced work on the creation of the new café and Trafford Council will shortly be seeking to engage a community focused organisation to run the café.

There are a series of exciting events coming to Trafford in the near future, including the Greater Manchester Marathon on April 28 that begins and ends in Longford Park and in July, visitors from around the world will be coming to Trafford for the London 2012 Olympic Games (Football).

A project to improve the footpath network around Pet’s Corner, which is close to the café, will also be undertaken during the same period, with a new notice board and park signs also being installed.

Longford Park, which is a designated conservation area, became a public park after it was purchased by Stretford Urban District Council in 1911 and then opened in 1912.

The new café is causing great excitement among the community as local resident Patricia Morris of Kings Road, Stretford explains: “I often take my grandchildren to Longford Park and the café will be a welcome addition. The kids love the play area and the animals but there are no toilet facilities and nowhere to go and have a cuppa. I’m looking forward to sitting outside the café in the summer and watching the kids on the swings.”

Executive Councillor John Reilly said: “This is a fantastic project, which will provide a facility that can be used and enjoyed by all visitors to the park. Not only will the renovation of the building celebrate the history of this much-loved site, but the opening of the café will help ensure that this valuable asset can be enjoyed by as many people as possible.”

To help mark the start of the project, Manchester and Cheshire Construction ran an art competition at nearby St John’s Primary School. Children created scenes of Longford Park and the new café and the winning entries will be displayed on a large banner at the site during the renovation works.

Gardener looks at park past

As reported on February 24th 2011 by Peter Devine

FLASHBACK…The park’s rockery in the early 1970s
A FORMER Longford Park gardener has sent in pictures of how it used to look as it undergoes a revamp.

Chris Barnett’s photograph shows the park when it was still in its prime. He worked on the park from 1961 until 1979.
The project to transform part of the park is well under way following the award of £50,000 funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s People’s Millions competition.

It is, hoped the cash will breathe new life into the park’s rose garden, restore running water to the ornamental fountains and to the Japanese garden and to build a band stand.
The works are expected to be completed by April. John Fitzgerald, a member of the Friends of Longford Park said: “The initial work on the gardens started back in November, and despite the bad weather in December, the project is progressing.

The designs were put together by the council with the help of the pupils of Stretford Grammar School.When it is completed in April, there is going to be quite a lot of planting to be done which will take.a season or two to become established, and before the beds will come to fruition.”

The project has also provided the opportunity for pupils to become involved in all aspects of transforming the gardens and help develop an education pack. It is seen as an important stepping stone to future improvements in Longford Park as laid out in the council’s park’s masterplan.

Offenders spring clean Longford Park

As reported in the Stretford and Urmston Messenger 2:00pm Monday 5th April 2010 by Jessica Bell (View the Article)

OFFENDERS from the Trafford area gave Longford Park a much-needed Spring clean last week. Graffiti was painted over and litter was cleared from the Stretford park by people who had been given community service for offences ranging from fraud, dangerous driving and affray.

Community Payback officer Debbie Wilford
and Bob Dunbar from Friends of Longford Park
at the rain shelter in the park

Organised as part of a Community Payback project to improve the area, the team, who were supervised by the Greater Manchester Probation Trust from March 28 to 31, painted the bollards at Pets’ Corner, the toilet roof and the rain shelter.

Debbie Wilford, community payback officer, said: “Offenders will be paying back in a very real way to the community against which they have offended, and will also be learning about team work.”

One offender, convicted to 200 hours community service for benefit fraud, told the Messenger that he thought the scheme was a good way of helping out the community.

Bob Dunbar, from Friends of Longford Park, said the work done by the offenders was “very effective and much appreciated”.

Longford Park wins £50,000 lottery grant

As reported in the Stretford and Urmston Messenger December 3rd 2009

THANKS to the support of Stretford residents, run-down Longford Park has won £50,000 to start bringing the historic site back up to scratch.

It was announced last Thursday that the park had won a public vote in the Big Lottery Fund’s People’s Millions competition to secure the cash.

The project will, say organisers – which includes the council and the Friends of Longford Park – breathe new life into the deteriorating rose garden; use the latest sustainable technology to restore running water to the ornamental rock gardens; provide the opportunity for young people from local schools to be involved in all aspects of transforming the gardens and help develop an education pack.

The project is an important stepping stone to future improvements in Longford Park as laid out in the council’s Park’s Masterplan.

Friends of Longford Park member, Margaret Westbrook, told SUM: “This is the first real extra money that we have managed to attract, having failed with the big Heritage Lottery bid last year.

“It effectively marks the start – but only the start – of many future possibilities.

“This is so very important as it will mark the beginning of constructive involvement of young people in our community.

“It also marks the beginning of an imaginative partnership between the school, the Friends, and Trafford Council.”

The money is designed to enable students to restore the Japanese water gardens using green technology and to redesign and replant the rose garden area which is somewhat worse for wear at present.

The council’s executive councillor for parks, Jonathan Coupe, also welcomed the cash injection: “I am delighted the bid was successful and would like to thank everyone who voted.

“The Friends group, local schools and council staff put a lot of hard work into this campaign and I’m now looking forward to seeing the project come to life.

“The council will continue to work with partners to secure more funding for projects like this one,” he said.

People power wins thousands for park

As reported on December 1st 2009 by Kirsty Elleray (View the Article)

CAMPAIGNERS celebrated Longford Park winning the People’s Millions.

The park which borders Chorlton and Trafford has scooped £50,000 after ITV viewers voted it to be a worthy recipient.

The money which comes from the Big Lottery Fund will help transform areas of the park.

It will enable the deteriorating rose garden to be turned into a beautiful garden; allow the use of the latest sustainable technology to restore running water to the ornamental rock gardens; and enable pupils from south Manchester schools to get involved with transforming and maintaining the gardens.

Margaret Westbrook, from the Friends of Longford Park, said: “We are delighted to get the money – this is a dream come true and we’d like to thank all the people in Chorlton and Stretford who helped and who voted for us.”

Trafford Council, which had led the bid along with the Friends of Longford Park, Stretford Grammar School and other campaigners, says the money will form an important stepping stone to future improvements.

Executive councillor Jonathan Coupe said: “I am delighted that our bid was successful and would like to thank everyone who voted.

“The Friends group, local schools and council staff put a lot of hard work into this campaign and I’m now looking forward to seeing the project come to life.”

The campaigners’ plea for the money was filmed and shown on ITV on Wednesday, November 25. Their bid was one of five out of eight competing projects to be awarded money.

A spokesperson for the People’s Millions confirmed that Longford Park will receive the money once the administration processes have been completed.

Longford Park campaigners have been trying to raise £2 million to upgrade the park and have twice failed to secure £2 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A spokesperson for Trafford Council said they – along with other campaigners – would continue to look for new funding incomes.

Vote Longford Park!

The following news release was issued by Trafford Council on the 28th October 2009 :-

A scheme to transform part of Longford Park has been shortlisted for a £50,000 Lottery award - and it needs your vote to secure the funding.

The project would give the much-loved historic park a real boost by creating a beautiful garden in the former rose, ornamental and water gardens. This would become an educational resource for young people, with an education pack available for use by local schools.

And, in keeping with Trafford Council’s pledge to create a greener borough, planting methods best placed to respond to climate change would be used, creating a site fit-for-purpose for the 21st century and beyond.

The Council, Friends of Longford Park, Stretford Grammar School and other partners have come together to campaign for the Lottery’s People’s Millions funding and make the project come to life.

A statement from the Friends of Longford Park said: “We are delighted to be shortlisted for the People’s Millions project that will enable young people to design an informative, sustainable and very appealing green space for the whole community. This reflects the historical significance of the Longford Estate as an example of land management for the benefit of all.”

The scheme will feature on Granada TV’s evening news programme on Wednesday 25 November. Voting phone lines will open at 9am on this day and close at midnight. There will be full details of the scheme and how to vote at www.trafford.gov.uk and the voting telephone number will appear in the Daily Mirror and at www.peoplesmillions.org.uk on this day.

Executive Councillor Jonathan Coupe said: “Local people are really passionate about Longford Park and this can be seen through the huge amount of support shown for the Masterplan that has been created to lay out a vision for its future.

“The garden project is just part of that Masterplan, and it would be fantastic to see it start to take shape and to see the community coming together to achieve this common goal. I’d encourage everyone to support this campaign to help us make Trafford a greener borough and a great place to live, learn, work and relax.”

You can find out more about The People’s Millions scheme at www.peoplesmillions.org.uk.

Trafford Council urged to invest more resources into the pitch and putt facilities at Longford Park

As reported in the Stretford and Urmston Messenger June 25th 2009 by Robert Downes
A STRETFORD man has called on Trafford Council to rescue crumbling pitch and putt facilities at Longford Park before it’s too late.

Cromwell Road resident Mike Byrne says the 18-hole course is slowly becoming little more than an open space for dog walkers because of the council’s on-going neglect.

To make matters worse, he told SUM town hall gardeners have recently started using crude agricultural machinery to cut the grass, which as well as not collecting the grass cuttings, leaves deep tyre tracks across the green rendering it virtually unplayable.

“It’s a real shame,” he said.

“They may be cutting the grass but it’s no longer a pitch and putt.

“The last time they hired out equipment was in 2004, after that they stopped doing it. But they never advertised the facility and had no signs up elsewhere in the park saying it was open. There was no proper support given to the staff manning it.

“It’s strange because at Woodheys Park in Sale they have an immaculate pitch and putt facility staffed by two people.”

Friends of Longford Park say they have repeatedly asked the council to do something about the situation.

Stretford councillor Dave Jarman said: “It’s a travesty that they’ve not been maintaining it for the purpose it was intended but the Tory run council have made a lot of cuts, especially to parks.

“I think there’s a political side to it with a north/south funding divide in Trafford.”

Executive councillor for parks and recreation Jonathan Coupe said the council would be looking at Longford’s pitch and putt facility as part of wider work on the park.

“This green space has been used in recent years as a free facility for golfers to practise chipping and pitching, and we will take a look at its future as we work closely with the Friends group to maintain and improve Longford Park,” he said.

“There are a number of golf courses in Trafford, managed by the leisure trust, which are on offer for local people to use, and the main facility for pitch and putt is at Woodheys Park.”

Spring clean thanks to young offenders

As reported in the Stretford and Urmston Messenger May 28th 2009 by Robert Downes

YOUNG offenders are to be drafted in to a Stretford park to complete work the council can’t afford to do itself.

After the town hall learned it had failed for a second time to access millions in Lottery funding to give Longford Park a major overhaul, park bosses contacted Trafford’s probation service requesting free labour from those sentenced for their crimes through community service schemes.

The service was only too happy to help, and in the next few weeks teams of young offenders will be working on restoring walls near the park’s rose garden.

Now, probation service bosses have contacted the Friends of Longford Park to offer more help if they want it.

The probation service’s Debbie Wilford said: “We do all sorts, cutting back, tidying up hedging, planting, and generally making sure the parks safe to use for the public.

“The people taking part have commited offences such as drunk driving or affray. None of them would be a danger to the public.”

“To me it sounds like a really good idea,” said the Friends’ John Fitzgerald.

“It’s clearly a positive step but the council will have to authorise it first,” he added.

Executive councillor Jonathan Coupe said: “We have been in discussions with the probation service about using the community payback scheme to help complete projects in a number of Trafford parks.

“The walls in the rose garden at Longford Park are on this list as they are in need of repair, however this work is not something that was part of the HLF bid. We are really keen to work in partnership with other organisations and local people to achieve our goal of making Trafford a greener borough.”

Plea for park

As reported on May 22nd 2009 by Katherine Vine (View the Article)
A park friends group is putting pressure on the council to stump up the cash for vital repair work after a Lottery bid was turned down.

The Friends of Longford Park found out last month that its bid for cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund had been turned down for the second time – and say parts of the park are in vital need of work.

CALL FOR ACTION: Councillor Judith Lloyd and
Margaret Westbrook, a member of the Friends
of Longford Park, at the old Edwardian
bungalow in the middle of the beauty spot

Friends group member John Fitzgerald said: “No work has been carried out in the park for years because we were waiting for the Lottery money, and now it’s very dilapidated in places.”

The group’s members are particularly concerned about the Edwardian bungalow in the middle of the park, which they want to see turned into a community cafe.

John added: “It is quite an attractive building but it is in a very poor state of repair. There are serious problems with the roof – you can see the gaps in the tiles – and we are concerned it is becoming structurally unsound.

“It could have to be demolished if something isn’t done soon.

“We are just trying to get the council to do the initial repairs on it but we would really like to see it turned into something the whole community could enjoy.

There are so few amenities like cafes and restaurants in Stretford and it could be really nice.”

The group is being backed by Stretford’s Labour councillors, Judith Lloyd, Pauline Lane and David Jarman. Councillor Jarman said: “This building has been left to fall into disrepair by the council.

“However, there is an opportunity for the council to take the initiative and develop it into a functioning and exciting facility. The park is crying out for a cafe which would be used by the many people who enjoy Longford Park.

“Its location is at the heart of the park and I’m sure it would be welcomed by the local community and all the park users.”

Environment councillor Jonathan Coupe says a building condition survey on the bungalow has been carried out.

If this reveals any serious sturctural issues the necessary work will be undertaken.

He added: “The Edwardian bungalow is an important asset to Longford Park and we are looking at the feasibility of operating a cafe at this site in the future.

“This will depend on the level of investment required to meet the necessary standards for food preparation and on finding a suitable operator.

“We will continue to work closely with the friends group and the rest of the community to maintain and improve all aspects of Longford Park for local people.”

Group accuses council of Longford Park neglect

As reported in the Stretford and Urmston Messenger May 14th 2009 by Robert Downes

A STRETFORD park was neglected for six years in the false belief Lottery cash would pay for its restoration.

That’s the claim from the head of the Friends of Longford Park group, Jean Byrne, who also accused Trafford Council of lavishing cash on parks in the more affluent areas to the south of the borough at the expense of others in the north. “The Friends of Longford Park have been working hard for almost 10 years to persuade Trafford Council to prioritise a park it has called ‘the jewel in its crown’,” she said.

“For six years much essential maintenance work has been put on hold on the assumption that the park infrastructure would eventually get fixed with the Lottery money.This assumption has proved wrong and the gamble failed. We feel that the council has shown a degree of neglect of our park and indeed of the Stretford area in genera. We find beds full of flowers at the south end of the borough and yet the flower beds in our park lie derelict and basic lighting and repairs have been left for years.”

But executive member of parks, Cllr Jonathan Coupe, said: “Longford Park is a priority, flagship park in Trafford and significant resources are dedicated to its maintenance. “HLF funding focuses on improvement projects, not essential maintenance work, so maintainence work has not been put on hold at any time. Recent work carried out has included a newly-surfaced footpath from the Quadrant entrance to the rear of Longford Cottages and the improvement of the younger children’s play area. “The council does not spend more on parks in the south than the north of the borough” he added.
The council also confirmed around £400,000 of town hall cash earmarked for improvements at Longford Park had the bid been successful, may not now definitely be spent there. A spokesman said there were ‘no guarantees’ the cash was ring fenced for Longford Park projects only.

Stretford’s Longford Park loses out on £2 million cash boost

As reported in the Stretford and Urmston Messenger April 16th 2009 by Robert Downes (View the Article)

HOPES for a multi-million pound makeover of Stretford’s Longford Park have been dashed for a second time in as many years.

Trafford Council’s application for a two million pound face lift of the Edge Lane park, submitted in the autumn, was rejected by The Heritage Lottery Fund earlier this week.

The rebuttal has prompted strong criticisms from the Friends of Longford Park group, who said the council’s strategy to secure Lottery cash in order to modernise the park - the largest in Trafford’s largest - had failed.

Spokesman John Fitzgerald also said there were now serious questions the council needed to answer as to how and when urgent work needed at the park was going to be achieved.

“We were hoping for some really positive news,” he said. “We had a 1,500 strong petition of support for the project, two MPs on board, local councillors, but it’s still be rejected. We want to know why,” he said.

“There’s been very little spent on the park since 2003, the plan being the work would all be paid for when the bid was done. It was the council’s strategy to rely on Lottery cash and now we’re not getting it we want to know what they’re going to do.”

“We’re trying to be fair minded about this, but we need to know why this second funding bid failed.”

The council said on Wednesday the town hall would be seeking feedback as to why the second such bid had failed, but said they remained committed to realising the masterplan.

“I am extremely disappointed we’ve missed out on the HLF funding again, and we will be asking for feedback about our bid to help us move forward stronger,” executive councillor for parks Jonathan Coupe told SUM.

“But I want to assure local people we still have every intention of developing the exciting masterplan put together for Longford Park.

“A lot of time and effort was put into this latest bid by many people and their hard work has provided a strong vision for the future of the park that we intend to make a reality.

“We will continue to invest what limited funds we have available as a council to make sure standards at the park are maintained and, together with the local Friends group and the community, will work hard to secure external funding so that the masterplan can be put into practice.”

Park Friends lose Lottery cash bid

As reported on April 17th 2009 by Katherine Vine (View the Article)

FANS of a Stretford beauty spot have suffered a fresh blow after failing to secure Lottery funding for the second time.

The Friends of Longford Park and Trafford Council vowed to fight on when, in May last year, they learned their £2 million Heritage Lottery Fund bid had failed.

In September they submitted a new bid, backed by the Friends’ online petition and appeals for the public to get behind the cause.

The council promised to match any Lottery funding with £400,000 of its own cash.

But this week they were told that, once again, the bid had been unsuccessful.

Group member John, who was one of the main driving forces behind the bid, said: “We are all just really disappointed.

“We had been feeling for a while that no news was not good news, but we were so hopeful that we would get this money that the park desperately needs. It seems that Stretford loses out once again.”

The park is steeped in history and once housed Longford Hall, home of the Mancunian cotton magnate John Rylands.

The Lottery money would have funded the restoration of the hall’s remains and rose gardens and the building of a visitors’ centre, performance space and sports ground.

John says the Friends now fear for the park’s future as the fight to get Lottery funding has taken almost six years.

In that time, many of the park’s maintenance issues have not been addressed.

He added: “For quite a period of time now the council has been cutting the park’s funds right back to the bare bones. We have reached the point where Longford Park is in a really poor state, and it is a real shame because the park matters to a lot of people.”

The issues of most concern to the Friends’ group are inadequate drainage leading to frequent flooding of the park, broken lighting, graffiti, inadequate toilet facilities, empty flower beds and neglect of the ornamental gardens.

Councillor Jonathan Coupe, who is in charge of environmental issues, says the council remains committed to improving the park and will continue to fight for funding to make this happen.

He said: “A lot of time and effort was put into this latest bid by many people, and their hard work has provided a strong vision for the future of the park that we intend to make a reality.

“We will continue to invest what limited funds we have available as a council to make sure standards at the park are maintained and, together with the Friends group and the community, will work hard to secure external funding so that the masterplan can be put into practice.”s

Chorlton, Didsbury & Whalley Range Community Index

The following article about the Friends of Longford Park was written by Jean Byrne and featured in the November 2008 edition of the Chorlton, Didsbury & Whalley Range Community Index

Longford Park is a green oasis nestling on the border between Chorlton and Stretford. Autumn’s a great time to visit and admirethe abundant display of colourful leaves as they fall from the numerous mature trees.
Many of the magnificent trees in the park were planted in the 1850s when Longford Hall and the surrounding parkland was the home of John Rylands, one of the richest entrepreneurs of the Lancashire Cotton Industry. In the 1870s he owned the largest textile manufacturing business in England and was Manchester’s first multi-millionaire. After his widow’s death in 1908 Stretford Council acquired the hall and park for £14,500.

In Victorian times it was fashionable for the newly rich industrialists such as John Rylands to import exotic plants from all over the world and display them in their gardens. Many of these exotic specimens still remain in the Longford formal gardens. Unusual species include the Chinese ginkgo biloba tree planted adjacent to an Indian bean tree and dwarfed by a nearby Canadian redwood.
Longford Hall was demolished due to structural problems in 1995 and all that remains are the portico and front steps. These look out onto a grassed area known as the Grand Lawn, which is the location of the Stretford Pageant, an event which has been held annually since 1919.

Beyond the once grand lawn is the ha-ha, a sunken wall, which prevented the sheep that used to graze on the lower fields adjacent to Edge Lane from eating the plants in the formal gardens. The only livestock remaining today are geese, rabbits, ducks and Horace the goat that live in the popular pets corner. Colonies of bats also live in the roof spaces of some of the old stable buildings and foxes are regularly seen running across the playing fields at dusk.

Lottery Bid
Over the last 20 years Longford, like most public parks, has suffered from lack of investment and eight years ago the Friends of Longford Park was founded by a group of volunteers to try to improve things and arrange regular community events. Recently over £70,000 was spent by Trafford Council to improve the under 5’s playground, but what seems quite a substantial amount of money doesn’t go very far these days. Hopes for further improvements are dependant on the outcome of a bid for over £2 million recently submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Friends Group have worked in partnership with the Council and organised a petition that was signed by over 1,500 people in support of the bid. The outcome should be known by Spring 2009.
Park Groups
In addition to being a great place to visit for a bike ride, football game or a picnic, the park is also home to a large number of community groups and associations. This includes groups as diverse as Trafford Athletics Club, the Firswood Leisure Art Group, Brownie and Scout Troops, Tai Chi, Touch Rugby and the Towns Women’s Guild. See the Friends web site or contact Trafford Council on 912 2000 for further information.

Jean Byrne
Friends of Longford Park

People power backs park bid

As reported in the Stretford and Urmston Messenger September 11th 2008 by Robert Downes (View the Article)
FRIENDS of Longford Park have said a big ‘thank-you’ to everyone who signed their on-line petition supporting the multi-million Lottery regeneration bid.

Organisers from the group needed more than 500 signatures for their petition to be included in the official bid being submitted by Trafford Borough Council at the end of this month, and that figure was reached earlier this week.

Committee member John Fitzgerald told SUM: “We’ve had a great response so it’s thanks to everyone who signed.

“The petition has really demonstrated the strong support the bid has amongst the local community, and hopefully it’ll give it more weight.
“So once again thank you to everyone who signed,” he said.
The bid, which has been compiled by the council with the help from the friends group is a two stage process.
The council won’t find out until around May time whether it has made it through to the second stage. If it does the final outcome won’t be announced until 2010.

As part of the bid to improve the civic amenity is a new cafe in the Edwardian bungalow, expansion of pets corner, a park ranger, restoration of the park’s heritage features related to the original John Rylands Longford Hall Estate, new toilets and the restoration of the coach house buildings to offer visitor/meeting areas. Improved drainage and paths for walkers and cyclists and well as restoration of the ornamental gardens and the creation of an outdoor performance area and multi use sports area are also included.

Despite having reached the 500 signatures they needed you can still lend your support by signing the petition and also learn more about Longford Park’s 2008 Heritage Lottery Fund bid by visiting http://folp.org.uk

MP Backs Longford Park’s fresh lotto cash bid

As reported on the 29/08/2008
Stretford and Urmston MP Bev Hughes has urged people to back Longford Park’s latest multi-million pound bid for Heritage Lottery funding. She as now joined the 297 people who have signed the Friends of Longford Park’s online petition.

Bev said: “I’m really pleased to support Friends of Longford Park in their heritage Lottery Bid. I want to thank them for the work they’re doing to improve the Park. I’d encourage as many people as possible to sign the Friends petition online. Longford Park has a rich history and a successful Heritage Lottery Bid would be absolutely fantastic. So sign the petition and back the bid.”

The Friends of Longford Park hope to get more than 500 signatures by September 15. To sign the petition go to http://www.friendsoflongfordpark.org.uk

Trafford Metro News Supports the 2008 HLF Bid

As reported by Helen Clifton on the 08/08/2008 (View the Article).

CAMPAIGNERS have pleaded for support for their renewed bid to regenerate one of Trafford’s most important parks.

Although an application for a £2 million Heritage Lottery Grant was knocked back in May, the Friends of Longford Park have vowed to battle on, with a new bid to be submitted in September.

They have now launched an online petition to garner support.

John of the Friends of Longford Park said: “When we found out that the first bid had failed we were totally gutted. The next bid is going to be hard because of competition from the 2012 Olympics, so we have to get more support to give us a chance.”

The park once housed Longford Hall, home of Mancunian cotton magnate John Rylands. A successful bid would fund the restoration of the hall’s remains and rose gardens, and the building of a new visitor centre, performance space and multi-use sports arena.

Trafford Council, which has submitted the bid, has promised to match any Lottery money with £400,000 of its own funding.

Improvement work on the park has already started, and a £60,000 children’s play area with disabled access is due to be completed by the end of the week.

John added that the bid reflects a greater emphasis on the park’s heritage.

“I think the first bid failed because it didn’t emphasise aspects of the park’s history enough,” he said.

“The plans have now been altered to take on board the views of the Friends of Longford Park.”

Stretford and Urmston Messenger Supports the 2008 HLF Bid

As reported in the Stretford and Urmston Messenger Tuesday 22nd July 2008
(View the Article)

LONGFORD Park could be transformed beyond recognition if a £2 million Lottery bid due to be submitted in September gets the green light.

It’s the second time Trafford Council have applied for substantial Lottery funding to make wholesale changes at the historic park in Stretford.
And they need public support for the bid to transform the park.

The bid includes restoration plans for the park’s Edwardian bungalow to provide a new cafe and outdoor seating area, new toilets, restoration of stable buildings to provide a visitor centre, scout headquarters, art exhibition space, meeting rooms, classroom for Trafford College and other partners and centrally located toilets.

The park’s art deco shelters, rose gardens and the Japanese gardens would all benefit from a makeover, as would the reintroduction of water features.
The pets corner would be expanded and developed into a small urban farm style facility, offering greater interaction and learning for the local community.

The Longford Hall Garden area would be turned into an outdoor performance area and vibrant civic space, providing a prominent symbol of regeneration for the community.

Creation of new paths to open up underused areas of the park, improved drainage and signage to increase usage and take advantage of the park’s proximity to Stretford Athletics Stadium, the Trans Pennine trail, the Mersey Valley and the soon to be redeveloped Bridgewater Canal are all included in the bid, a decision either way won’t be made until 2010.

Executive councillor Jonathan Coupe told Messenger: “This is a very exciting bid which, if successful, would give us the opportunity to bring immense improvements to Longford Park to transform it into a first class community facility.

“We really want local people to feel that the park belongs to them and I would ask residents - particularly those living in the immediate area - to offer their support to this campaign.

“We want all our parks to be well-used, vibrant, safe and sustainable and this funding will secure this future for Longford Park.”

Local people can lend their support and comment by signing the Friends of Longford Park’s electronic petition. The link to the page is www.friendsoflongfordpark.org.uk