THE pond and folly of Victoria Park have been refurbished as part of the first phase of a £4 million restoration project to restore the venue to its glory days.

Work involved desilting and removing rubbish from the water, rebuilding the pond walls and islands and ramps and matting for water fowl.

New aquatic plants have been installed and views of the pond improved, while old trees were removed and replaced. New grass areas have been created and wild flowers planted, and The Folly has been repaired with kerbs relaid along with footpaths and steps and new walkways created around the water feature. The Heritage Lottery Fund is backing the scheme, due to be completed next spring.

Afterwards, the Mayor of St Helens, Councillor Andy Bowden, cut the ribbon to celebrate the hand-over of the first element of the restoration of the 160-year-old park.

Cllr Seve Gomez-Aspron said: “This project is revitalising this much loved park, restoring important historic elements and providing new facilities for visitors to enjoy.”

The restoration – which will include the conservation of the original entrance gates and the restoration of the grade two listed Gate Lodge – is good news for the town.

Significant enhancements will see the lodge become a base for visitor facilities and an activity venue.

Other moves, include restoring the Age UK owned walled garden and orangery, which, once completed, will be open to the public.

The park’s Mansion House and orangery are home to Age UK Mid-Mersey, whose chief executive Mark Lunney said: “The exciting development of Victoria Park offers magnificent improvements for the community to enjoy. We are proud to be the custodians.

“We are very lucky to be able to work in such pleasing surroundings and enjoy such terrific views of natural beauty. I would encourage people to visit the park and see its wonderful transition.”