A £3-million restoration project that has given a Durham City park a new heritage centre, café, play areas, and even a miniature car track and amphitheatre has been nationally recognised.

Durham County Council’s restoration of Wharton Park has been highly commended in the Landscape Institute Awards 2017, in the Heritage and Conservation Category.

The Landscape Institute Awards celebrate schemes that protect, conserve and enhance the natural and built environment. The awards also highlight projects that demonstrate high levels of skill, innovation and commitment to values such as green infrastructure, health and well-being.

The restoration work on Warton Park was led by the council’s appointed landscape architect and designer Southern Green Ltd. The scheme took 12 months and was completed in 2016.

Representatives from the council and Southern Green were recently presented with the highly commended award by the travel writer and fan of Durham Bill Bryson at a special ceremony.

Highly commended
The highly commended award was presented by Bill Bryson

Durham County Council’s cabinet member for tourism, culture, leisure and rural issues, Cllr Ossie Johnson, said, “It’s always satisfying to get national recognition of any kind so we’re delighted that what we’ve done at Wharton Park has been acknowledged by the Landscape Institute.”

“The park really is looking great these days following the year-long restoration project and visitors seem to really enjoy spending time there and we’d like to thank Southern Green and all our funders for helping us bring it to fruition.”

£2.45 million of the restoration funding came from the Heritage Lottery and Big Lottery funds. Additional support came from Durham County Council and its local Area Action Partnership.

There has been a public park on the site of Wharton Park since 1858, when William Lloyd Wharton donated Windy Hill for the use of the people of Durham.

The 19th-century philosopher, activist and art historian John Ruskin is said to have been so impressed by Wharton Park’s views of Durham Castle and Cathedral that he described the park as “the eighth wonder of the world.”

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