MP Jonathan Reynolds has been given a sneak preview of a forgotten area of Stamford Park, unearthed as part of a multi-million pound refurbishment.
The Dingle dates back further than 1898, when George Briggs constructed the rock work which forms much of the character.
During the Victorian Age it was a popular area for those taking an afternoon stroll. But over the years it had become overgrown and difficult to access.
Over the years the main footpath had become prone to flooding and it was difficult to negotiate. Meanwhile self-sewn trees had grown, which were preventing other plants from growing.
Now as part of the £5million refurbishment of the park – which is has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Tameside Council – the Dingle is being restored to its former glory.
Much of the area has already been cleared, the cascades of water are being repaired and broken stonework restored.
Mr Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, was delighted to be offered the chance to see the work in progress.
He believes the changes to the park will be hugely popular with visitors, when the work is complete and the barriers are removed in time for the start of the summer.
He said: "Stamford Park has played an important part in the lives of generations of people who have lived in Tameside – and the current refurbishment will make sure it can be enjoyed by generations to come too.
"When the work is complete there will be some fantastic facilities, including a new Pavillion and a modern aviary.
"But I was particularly pleased to get the chance to see the Dingle. I’d never been there before – and it really was like going into an undiscovered world. It was beautiful.
"The Dingle was enjoyed by people taking a stroll more than 100 years ago, but now it has been restored I think it will be just as popular in the future.
"A 60-strong team have been working on the restoration of the park. Many of those who have been working on the park live locally – and you can tell they’ve been working with their hearts as well as their hands.
"This has clearly been a labour of love – and it was a real privilege to get this sneak preview."
The restoration project has been funded by a grant of £3.99million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a further £1million from Tameside Council.
At the heart of the project is a determination to enhance the best features of the Victorian park – which is registered grade II on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens – while ensuring facilities for visitors were fit for the 21st century.
MP Jonathan Reynolds visited the park alongside Stalybridge councillors George Roberts and Kevin Welsh and Labour activist Jan Jackson.
Published March 19, 2012