CHARLES GRAHAM - Reason to celebrate

DAYS after the final piece of old town hall masonry came crashing to the ground, Wigan has a heritage milestone it can thankfully celebrate.

This Sunday will see a four-hour party which hails the culmination of the £6.2m Lottery-funded refurbishment of Mesnes Park.

Long in the planning and execution, the work has been a spectacular success.

Neither can I think of many more leisure causes deserving of a cash boost (with the possible exception of creating a long overdue concert hall for Wigan!)

In our long-running series My Favourite Place, which invites local people in the news to nominate a location of special beauty and/or meaning to them, I think Mesnes Park comes up more than anywhere else.

And that has for the large part been before the work was finished. Like Haigh Hall it is a very attractive and interesting place which has provided a fund of happy memories for generations of children and older people.

And this looks set to continue long into the future after its makeover.

In the last four years we have seen complete overhauls of the magnificent pavilion, the bandstand and the Sharp Powell statue. The play shack has been re-built and a whole new play area installed. The long-neglected former park keeper’s lodge has been restored and will be put to good use as an information and training centre.

The old water feature on the pond has been revived, the whole park re-landscaped and the paths resurfaced. But I have to say that the re-creation of the Coalbrookdale fountain at the base of the pavilion steps is the piece de resistance.

It is perhaps unbecoming to introduce a carp at this juncture but I was a tad disappointed that the major refurb did not encompass the tennis courts or crazy golf course.

Apparently the grants didn’t cover sporting aspects of the park and Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust is now in consultation over what should be done with these facilities next.

It is a bit of a shame that with tennis on such a high at the moment, that we haven’t been able to capitalise on that for young visitors. And why take away what were a little tired but perfectly serviceable crazy golf obstacles if there wasn’t anything to replace them any time soon?

But those gripes aside, I hope the weather stays fine on Sunday so the town can salute in style a wonderful restoration project for Wigan’s cultural jewel in the crown.