Sefton Park awarded highest heritage status

Simon Donohue

One of Liverpool's most historic parks has been regraded to give it the highest possible heritage ranking.

Sefton Park has been reclassified from grade 2-listed to grade 1-listed by English Heritage as part of a national review of registered municipal parks.

The 235-acre park was built on land purchased by Liverpool City Council from the Earl of Sefton and was opened by Prince Arthur in 1872.

The change is in recognition of the fact that it is an early example of a municipal park, that its design is largely unchanged and that it is "an important element of one of England's great industrial cities".

Heritage chiefs also cite it as being the first to introduce French park design to England. Landscape architect Édouard André – who had worked on parks in Paris – won the competition to design the site, alongside Liverpool man Lewis Hornblower.

Liverpool mayor Cllr Anderson said: "Sefton Park has and always will have a special place in my heart as I used to spend long summer days there when I was a lad, and subsequently many hours there with my own children.

"We are absolutely committed to attracting more people into our parks, which is why we have introduced pedalos back on to the lake, borrowed money to upgrade the roads and made it one of the focal points for the hugely successful Liverpool International Music Festival.

"This regrading by English Heritage shows their confidence in our work to maintain its historic features and make sure we attract as many people as possible into it."

A £7m restoration project was carried out in 2005, including refurbishment of the watercourses, renovation of rockeries, a new play area, extensive planting, improvements to paths and bridges and restoration of monuments.

Work was also recently completed on a £6m programme to resurface the roads around the park, with the council borrowing the money to fund the scheme.

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Does that mean we can save Sefton Meadows now then given as such historical importance? I do hope so. Surely Liverpool City Council won’t allow them to be built on now……………..

By Mark Smith

Mark, The ‘Meadows’ not to be confused with the meadows in Sefton park (planted with various meadow grasses and wildflowers). The confusingly named (by local politicians mostly) Sefton Park Meadows are not part of Sefton Park and are situated across the road and are therefore nothing to do with any listed status. Their only relation with the park is that they were land intended to be built upon in the style of the Victorian Villas seen all around the park, in order for the then Corporation of Liverpool to fund Sefton Park’s creation and maintenance. These houses never truly made a profit however which is why some of the land remains undeveloped to this day whilst other sections were handed over for allotments and social housing over the years.

By Andrew

Thanks Andrew, but surely the park is paid for now,yes I appreciate it has ongoing costs, and those villas were built many moons ago? Yes the council may need the money, but not to the detriment of this – surely the new heritage status would add bigger weight to the argument that the park and its surroundings should remain as is? The Sefton Meadow is across a very small road – but blends into the park and if there hadn’t been such debate over Sefton Meadows then I’m sure a lot of people would have still considered the meadows/Sefton meadows part of the park – and should remain as is.

By Mark Smith