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13 November 2014

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You are in: Berkshire > Places > Places features > Park life

Park life

Herschel Park in Slough is undergoing a multi-million pound refurbishment in the summer, restoring the grounds to its former Victorian glory. Find out what's in store below.

Herschel Park lake - where's the water?

Herschel Park lake - where's the water?

Walk through Herschel Park in Slough and you'll stroll past an alarmingly empty lake.

A small bridge straddles a murky-looking waterway and a barren-looking parkland is outlined by a grey concrete path.

It's hard to imagine that this park was once endowed with architectural Victorian splendour.

Previously called Upton Park, it was built in the 1840s by James Thomas Bedborough, a Windsor builder, councillor and entrepreneur who bought the grounds and landscaped it as the private pleasure grounds of a Victorian housing development.

James Bedborough's plan for Upton Park

James Bedborough's plan for Upton Park

The park is also surrounded on three sides by buildings built by Bedborough.

In 1949 the park was sold to Slough borough council, who renamed it Herschel Park before opening it to the public.

"In 2000 quite mysteriously the water in the ponds in the park totally disappeared," says local historian Elias Kupfermann, "much to the annoyance of all the local residents."

Elias and other local residents formed the Friends Of Herschel Park to work alongside Slough borough council.

"The main objective was to help Slough borough council get money from Heritage Lottery to get the water back into the ponds and restore the park back to its Victorian glory," says Elias, who is Chair of the Friends group.

He adds that the group first applied for funding in 2000 and that the bid for the lottery's Parks for People programme took five years.

Elias Kupfermann, Chair of the Friends of Herschel Park

Elias Kupfermann - Chair, Friends of Herschel Park

But the community could celebrate in January 2009 when the park was granted £2.2 million - a combination of funds from Heritage Lottery and Slough borough council.

Elias and the group plan to restore the Grade II registered park to its original splendour.

"Today all you see is two main concrete asphalt paths," says Elias "in the Victorian period there were many winding paths right the way through the park.

"We've done archaeological work to try and find where these paths are - and we found them."

Using historical maps to plot the paths, the group will also reinstall historic gateways - using original photographs - and restore the bridge.

Herschel Park

Herschel Park in February 2009

An old Victorian coach house will be converted into a new multi-use community and visitor centre.

A nature reserve which adjoins the park will be enhanced through the planting of trees and wildflowers.

Ducks swimming through reeds at Herschel Park

Ducks swimming through reeds at Herschel Park

Work starts in June or July 2009 and work is expected to take 18 months.

Bruce Hicks, Slough borough council's project manager for Herschel Park says: "This is fantastic news for Slough and the people who visit and live near the park.

"There is terrific community support for this project and with the refurbished Victorian coach house visitor centre, car park and improved access, the park will be in great demand from school and community groups who have pledged their support and participation for the project."

last updated: 11/02/2009 at 15:07
created: 11/02/2009

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