Ambitious vision to transform Wigan water park

Cafe owner Steve Quilliam
Cafe owner Steve Quilliam

A cafe owner working to improve one of the borough’s parks hopes it will one day achieve a Green Flag Award.

Steve Quilliam, who runs Madisons Ice Cream And Coffee Parlour at Orrell Water Park, has been working to transform the area since he moved in five years ago.

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He has further plans to improve it with the aim of eventually securing the prestigious award, which recognises well managed parks and green spaces around the country.

Mr Quilliam said: “When I came here five years ago, the park was totally overgrown.

“You couldn’t see the lakes from here, the car park, nothing.

“People used to walk around and were obscured from view, they would disappear and appear again in a little gap.

“I have worked with the council and had all the place trimmed back and made it look more presentable and more appealing for people to spend a few hours here.

“The cafe was a derelict building when I got here.

“From what it was to what it is now, it’s 100 per cent better.”

But Mr Quilliam has not stopped there and has more plans to improve Orrell Water Park.

He said: “We are going to paint up the children’s play area, all the walk-ways, the fencing, the bridges will be reinstated properly and cleaned up,

“We have got 60 tonnes of material to remake all the paths and make it more accessible. In the winter it does get quite muddy.”

Mr Quilliam has the support of Wigan Council, which has provided paint and other items, and he will do the work with volunteers. He has also taken responsibility for the lakes and will be doing work there in a bid to encourage more anglers to visit.

Coaching sessions are being held by the Angling Trust to introduce beginners to fishing at the park.

Mr Quilliam is keen to keep improving the park so that the number of people visiting the beauty spot continues to increase.

However, visitor numbers dropped after the murder of Winstanley College student Ellen Higginbottom last year.

He said: “You look at Haigh Hall where they are spending a fortune and Mesnes Park, which is a picturesque park attended by a lot of people, but on the outskirts there are places like this that don’t get that kind of funding.

“If we can accomplish a place that people like to come and visit, that can be more self-funding, that’s the key. All the money that we can generate through fishing will go back to improving the park.”

Ultimately he hopes the work being done at the park could lead to it earning a Green Flag Award.

Mr Quilliam said: “In general terms I think it’s lovely.

“In the next couple of months, when we get the fencing up and the painting done, it will improve further.

“We might even try to get a Green Flag. That’s the aim. We want to improve it to get a Green Flag and everyone will come and think what a beautiful park it is.”

A council spokesman said:“As part of The Deal we want to work imaginatively with communities to look at different ways to provide services so they can be improved for residents.

“This is a great example of how we can build a better borough by working together.

“Steve empties the bins around the cafe and the council collects the filled bags and stone has been provided to allow for ongoing repairs to the parks footpath network.

“With the cafe now incorporating the toilets, the cafe’s regular opening hours provide toilets facilities for the public. The increased operating hours of the cafe and angling also provide a deterrent to any anti-social behaviour.”