Friends fight on after lottery funding blow

As reported in the South Manchester Reporter by Marie Burchill 29/ 5/2008 (View the Article)

Conservationists from Longford Park have vowed to fight on after being told that their £2 million lottery bid has been unsuccessful.

Members of the Friends of Longford Park and bosses at Trafford Council had submitted their bid to bosses at the Heritage Lottery Fund back in April – in the hope that the massive cash injection would allow them to restore the park to it’s former Victorian glory.

However, conservationists have now been dealt a hammer blow, after lottery chiefs revealed that their bid had been unsuccessful.

Despite the knock-back, the Friends have said that they remain ‘undeterred’ in their aim to get the funding, which will allow them to restore many of the park’s rich historical and cultural features.

They are already working, together with Trafford Council, to draw up another bid – which they hope to submit to lottery chiefs in September.

Angela Elphick, of the Friends of Longford Park group, said: “We worked very closely with Trafford Council to get this bid together and we are all very disappointed that it has been rejected. Members of Trafford Council put a lot of effort into the bid and I can’t fault them at all.

“The park is now in a very sorry state. The majority of people had been banking on this money becoming available so that something could be done to turn the park’s fortunes around.

“But now it has become clear that we are not going to be getting the funding any time soon, people are becoming increasingly angry and want some action to be taken to improve the condition of Longford Park.

“Because of this general feeling we are not discouraged, as we know that everybody will join forces to turn this decision around.”

John Lamb, director of operations at Trafford Council, said: “The council are undeterred in their current application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for their £2 million bid for the restoration of Longford Park. The Heritage Lottery Fund recognised that we submitted a high quality bid that possessed strong community involvement, strong financial viability and high match funding levels.

“The council will be re-submitting the application in September.

“We appreciate it is a highly competitive process, but with the support, effort and hard work of the numerous partners and park users we remain confident of a successful bid.”

Sara Hilton, Heritage Lottery Fund manager for the North West, said: “We realise that this is disappointing news. “While the application for Longford Park met the funding criteria, there were a number of other projects which were considered to deliver more comprehensive conservation, participation and learning benefits.

“We have already held further discussions with council representatives to explore ways forward and have offered on-going support if they decide to submit a further application.”

The Friends group will hold a meeting at the neighbourhood forum on Tuesday, June 10 in Trafford Town Hall to discuss the future of Longford Park. It will take place between 6pm and 8pm. For more information, call Angela Elphick on 0161 864 1326.

Third time unlucky for Longford Park

As reported in the Stretford and Urmston Messenger by Robert Downes 10:00am Thursday 22nd May 2008(View the Article)

ONE of Trafford’s oldest and largest urban parks failed for a third time in a row to access Lottery funding for major improvements there.

News the two million pound bid, put together by the council to breathe new life into crumbling Longford Park had failed, was announced last Friday.

The money would have paid for major improvement work at the sprawling Edge Lane venue, including a new cafe, working toilets, improved play equipment, the relaying of pathways, planting and general repairs.

The rejection of the bid was greeted with anger by park users.

Mum of three, Kay Rooney, who lives in Cromwell Road, said: “It’s absolutely disgraceful. The council are letting the park deteriorate rapidly. The play area’s equipment is unsafe and there are walls falling down everywhere.”

She added: “There’s graffiti, empty flowers beds, broken glass on the floor, the toilets are always closed, and the car park is only part surfaced. Why has this bid failed again?”

The Friends of Longford Park, who were consulted on the latest bid, were also unhappy at the decision. The group’s Angela Elfick said: “We were very disappointed with the outcome. We’re still waiting to hear from our contact at Trafford Council on where we go next.”

But John Lamb, director of operations at the town hall, said the council were “undeterred” and would reapply in the autumn, although it was unclear if the bid would be altered in anyway. “We appreciate it is a highly competitive process, but with the support, effort and hard work of the numerous partners and park users we remain confident of a successful bid,” he told SUM.

“The Heritage Lottery Fund recognised that Trafford submitted a high quality bid that possessed strong community involvement, strong financial viability and high match funding levels, and we remain undeterred.”

BBC Manchester Places

BBC Manchester on the 8th May 2008, as part of its Manchester places series, included an article on Longford Park.

The article describes a visit to the park in Spring, the heritage and different users of the park as well as featuring Horace the Goat! The full text of the Longford Park Parklife article can be found here

Longford Park on a fine spring morning is a special place to be. From the Edge Lane park gates, a mature tree-lined path offers elegant views with the daffodils providing an abundance of colour. The warming yellows contrast with the surrounding winter browns and greys and hint towards the coming of summer. The snow-coated daffodils in April capture the sometimes unpredictable nature of the changing of seasons.

Amongst the dog owners, parents with prams, joggers and walkers there is a nice sense of comradeship; everyone seems pleased that they have made the effort to be here.

Many head towards Pets’ Corner to look at the caged birds ranging from the exotic Kakariki from New Zealand to native geese and ducks. And grazing amongst the rabbits is Horace the Goat. Horace is a 12-year-old Welsh mountain goat donated to the park by a couple from Sale that were finding him a real handful. When he was younger, volunteers would take him on walks round the park for exercise. He is getting on a bit now and is less keen on his walks than he used to be. Poor Horace!

In the centre of Longford Park there are still several surviving properties that were built for the original Longford Hall Estate in 1877 for the ‘Cotton King’ and philanthropist John Rylands. It is also possible to wander round the façade of the original Longford Hall as well as view the original coach house and stable buildings. As a kid growing up in Stretford it was always a treat to go to Longford Park. The Queen visited Longford Park as part of her Silver Jubilee year so we knew that it was special. It was about a mile walk to the park and on a hot summer’s day we would be rewarded with ice creams from a café in the ornamental gardens. The café has long gone but the gardens are there and still a lovely tranquil place where you can acquaint yourself with the friendly squirrels.

From here a short walk takes you past the popular tennis and basketball courts. Other activities you might see on any given day can range from bowling, football, touch rugby to Pesäpallo (Finnish Baseball)! A pleasant path through the trees will then take you back to where you started on Edge Lane. The route around Longford Park takes less than an hour but what a great start to the day!

Chorlton - South Manchester Reporter

South Manchester Reporter columnist, Neil Rolands, on the 24th April 2008 mentioned at length John Rylands and Longford Park.
Excerpts from his column include:-

“Longford Park is a fascinating area, and well worth a stroll…. With the birds and shelters, the original stables and its classic layout, it really is a splendid place that deserves the restoration it seeks, and it seems particularly pertinent that the bid to restore it should occur this year, exactly a century after the death of Enriquetta Augustina Ryland’s third and final wife who he married when he was 74, and who created the John Rylands Library in his memory. “

“Nobody today would suggest that John Rylands was motivated by greed - indeed, he built orphanages, homes for gentlewomen and ministers of slender means, and in Stretford, on the borders of which stood Longford Hall, he built the town hall, baths, library and a coffee house. Yet his efforts made him Manchester’s first multi millionaire and the United Kingdom’s largest textile manufacturer, his businesses boasting a capital of £2 million. ”

The full text of this article can be found here.

Park’s £2M bid

As reported by the Trafford Metro News on the 18/04/2008:

Stretford’s Longford Park has bid for a £2.5m slice of the Heritage Lottery Fund – and, if successful, the cash would see the park’s cultural and historical features preserved for future generations.

Plans include a new visitor centre in the old stable blocks, while a dilapidated bungalow near the children’s park could be turned into a cafe.

The old formal gardens and pathways would be restored, new toilets built and demolished conservatories recreated.

Angela Elphick, acting chair of the Friends of Longford Park, said she thought it would be an “excellent added amenity” for Stretford.

Ms Elphick, a resident of nearby Alder Grove, added: “It is in a part of Trafford that we sometimes feel gets a bit neglected in favour of the other areas to the south, like Hale and Bowdon.”

The park and the imposing Longford Hall were built in 1857 by Manchester cotton magnate John Rylands, who lived there until his death in 1888.

The site became a public park after it was bought by Stretford Urban District Council in 1911. Longford Hall was knocked down in 1995, but its facade still stands in the park.

The funding bid was submitted last October and a decision on the park’s next stage is due over the next few days.

Angela said: “I feel optimistic, because as well as being such an attractive park, I think it is quite important because of the John Rylands connection.”

She added that outdoor events have recently had to be cancelled because of a lack of volunteers – and put out a call for new members. For details visit www.friendsoflongfordpark.org.uk.