Located along City Road, Bishop Road, Cowley Hill Lane and Rutland Street, the Green Flag award-winning Victoria Park for the ninth consecutive year is within walking distance of the town centre, with parking accessible from the City Road entrance.
It is a beautiful 14-hectare park to suit everyone. Why not take a picnic in the park during the spring and summer months? Autumn is a lovely time to visit with all the changing colours of the trees and you can watch the squirrels foraging for their winter store, while the winter frost and snow creates a beautiful winter wonderland scene with the Mansion House as a backdrop.
A brief history of Victoria Park
- 1849-50: Mansion House was constructed for local solicitor John Ansdell.
- 1886: Mansion House and surrounding land were acquired by St.Helens Council and re-opened to the public as 'Cowley Hill Park'.
- 21 June 1887: the park was renamed to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.
- 1892: Mansion House was opened to the public as St Helens' first museum and art gallery.
- 8 July 1913: King George V and Queen Mary visited St.Helens and passed through Victoria Park, where local schoolchildren lined the way to greet them. Permanent gates and pillars were erected at the widened Windle City entrance and it was renamed 'King's Gate' in honour of the visit.
- 1939-1945: the park's iron railings were melted down for munitions and replaced with hedges, while large areas of the park were given over to food cultivation and allotments during the war.
- Post-war era: Victoria Park resumed its recreational functions, hosting school sports, cricket matches, bowling, band concerts, and fabulous floral displays.
- 1974: the council's parks management division was based in Victoria Park.
- 1994: Mansion House and walled gardens were sold to Age UK as their regional HQ.
- Since 2000: the play area has been refurbished and a ball court, skate park and teen play area installed.
- 2005: Friends of Victoria Park formed and campaigned for the park's restoration.
- 2009: plans for the restoration started with consultations and plans submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund.
- 2013: physical works began on site for the park's restoration and overhaul.
- 2014: restoration work was completed and the park was re-opened by the Mayor on 19 August.
Why is Victoria Park special?
It is the last park in St Helens where the original manor house survives - those at Sherdley, Taylor and Haresfinch parks are now long gone.
The pond, folly and formal garden features date back to 1847, when the land was owned by John Speakman. In 1849-50, John Ansdell built the house, which was anticipated as part of the original private development after Speakman's death.
Viewed from above, the park forms an inverted heart shape.
It was designed by Edward Kemp, the landscape architect who also designed St Helens Cemetery.
Sir David Gamble - chemical magnate, philanthropist and St Helens' first elected mayor - donated the land in 1887 where the gate lodge now sits.
The Mansion House, City Road Lodge and folly are all individually Grade II-listed structures. The gate pillars and Doulton fountain are also historically significant.
St Helens' first public museum was in the Mansion House, with the famous tiger at the entrance.
Park users can use the car park to the right of the Mansion House. Please make yourself aware of the times for opening and closing, which are clearly marked on the signposts.
Restoration in 2014
Victoria Park is managed by St Helens Borough Council. In partnership with Friends of Victoria Park and Age UK Mid Mersey (who own Mansion House), it underwent a major £4 million facelift to restore it to its former glory and create exciting new facilities.
Funding was secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Ibstock Corey, Corey Environmental Trust for Britain (CETB), BLISS and United Utilities.
Over £3 million was secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a major programme of activity redressed the park's decline during the 1980s and 1990s, restoring many of its original features and revitalising its use and popularity.
The completion of the restoration in summer 2014 took the park forward to be a place for all the community for another 150 years to come.
The following historic assets were repaired and restored:
- The Gate Lodge
- The pond
- The folly and rose garden
- A 1913-style orangery to host functions and events for older people and the general public
- The terracotta fountain and bench
- The walled garden and porch
- Some of the tennis courts
- Landscape features, views and sight lines
- Community and educational facilities within the lodge
- A Victorian bandstand to facilitate music and other events
- Visitor information and interpretation for adults and children
- Additional planting and bio-diversification
- Community garden on the old bowling green
- Enhanced paths, seating and fitness trail
- Enhanced lighting and car parking
- Cycle hub
The Gate Lodge
Friends of Victoria Park
The Friends of Victoria Park are an active group of local residents who have long advocated the park's restoration and enhancement.
Home of St Helens parkrun
Victoria Park is home to the St Helens parkrun, which is a free, timed 5km run that takes place every Saturday at 9am. Regularly attracting 150 runners of all ages and abilities, the parkrun is a great way to get fit, meet new friends and enjoy our great park.
All you need to take part is a barcode, which can be printed off the website. Children and dogs are welcome to participate as well, but under-11s must run with an adult and dogs must be on a short lead. For more information, please visit the parkrun website.
- The modern skate park attracts avid skaters and stunt bike enthusiasts from across the town, and the welcoming atmosphere is ideal for younger children, learners and newcomers.
- A modern ball court that provides facilities for basketball and 5-a-side football pitch in an enclosed area - ideal for a general kickabout with friends or organised matches.
- There are two play areas: one enclosed for the younger children and another with much larger equipment for the older and more adventurous.
- Need to shelter from a passing rain shower? Then the teen shelter is located near to the skate park.
- The path around the perimeter of the park is approximately one mile long and is very popular with walkers, dog walkers and joggers.
- Take a stroll around the park and visit the duck pond and surrounding folly that have been there since 1847.
- A wetland habitat area can be found along the Bishop Road section of the park that is home to a variety of wetland plants.
- Activities and events take place in the park throughout the year; updates are also on the information boards around the park entrances.
- The reintroduction of the tennis courts and a new trim trail if you are feeling more energetic.
- A cycle hub is accessible to all for organised bike rides. There are a number of adapted cycles for the disabled as well.