work begins on £170,000 investment in Highbury Park
Work begins tomorrow (Monday 23rd January) on a £170,000 investment in repairing the infrastructure and historic features of Highbury Park. The money is coming from the Council’s own capital programme, into which I bid for these works last Summer.
All work will be completed by the end of March.
The work will include the following:
1) Restoration of the historic Joseph Chamberlain platform. This feature was part of the ornate gardens of Highbury Hall, which occupied the land between the main pond and Yew Tree Road. These gardens were created between 1890 and 1914 by Joseph Chamberlain and contained many features such as an Italian Garden, a Dutch Garden, an Elizabethan Garden, a sundial on a raised platform overlooking the Tea Gardens. Many of these features still exist, but have been allowed to fall into disrepair since the early 1980s.
The Viewing Platform itself was created in 1890 and it was from this vantage point that Joseph Chamberlain was able to view his ornate gardens of Highbury Hall, looking down to the main pond that still exists today.
Last August, the platform was completely destroyed by vandals. However, a friend and I, using two wheelbarrows, were able to rescue most of the damaged stonework and hide it elsewhere in the park. This stop the ornate stonework being damaged any further.
I attach two photos showing the Viewing Platform both before and after the vandalism.
This Viewing Platform will be restored to its former glory, with new stones carved to replace any that are beyond saving. There will also be some repair work to the rocky outcrop that the platform rests on, including careful removal of any self seeding trees that are growing in-between the layers of rocks.
2) Repair of numerous footpaths. This will include the driveway from Shutlock Lane to the main car park. This has several large potholes, where the foundations are completely wrecked. The car park will also be relevelled.
Paths around the Oak Tree pond will also be repaired. The Oak Tree pond is a small pond, again part of the original Highbury Hall estate, immediately north of the Italian Gardens. The pond is almost completely silted up and hidden from view by overgrown rhododendrons. It is named after the 200 year old oak tree that grew beside it and whose dead trunk can still be seen today.
3) Repair to the footbridge at the Moor Green Lane end of the main pond. This footbridge is really nothing more than a 1960s concrete, covered with soil. I attach photos showing it. As you will see, the soil around the bridge has been significantly eroded by the stream and foot traffic and now starting to expose the foundations of the footbridge. Our intention is to rebuild the soil up and get back it back to how it probably looked in the 1930s.
4) Careful trimming back of over grown bushes and trees on the land between the main pond and Chamberlain House. Our objective for doing this is three fold:
a) Cut back several bushes and remove several self seeding sycamores that are adversely affecting the bees in the bee keeper’s area. The bee keeper’s area is on the site of the Highbury Hall Tea Gardens.
b) Recreate the view from the Viewing Platform down to main pond. In Joseph Chamberlain’s time, the Viewing Platform was easily viewable from the main pond. This vista has long vanished and we hope to recreate it by careful trimming. We also hope this will prevent any further damage to the Viewing Platform.
c) Trim back all laurel bushes in the area between the Viewing Platform and Chamberlain House. We still have a problem with indecent behaviour taking place in this area during the afternoon. There has been a joint Police and Council effort to reduce this activity since the Summer. The activity normally takes place between 11am and 2pm every day. As a result of this joint working, several individuals are about to be served with ASBOs banning them from both Highbury Park and Cannon Hill Park. We hope to significantly reduce this activity by at last trimming back all the laurel bushes under which it all takes place.