War memorial at heart of planned park revamp
Published on 18 November 2015
WORK to create a new processional route to Leicester’s most prominent war memorial could begin next year, as part of a major revamp of Victoria Park.
Leicester City Council plans to create a new tree-lined route through the award-winning park. This would restore the link between the Arch of Remembrance to the park’s historic gates, both of which were designed by Imperial architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.
The proposed £1.8milllion scheme will also see the park’s existing sport courts and skate park completely overhauled, and the car parking area remodelled and improved.
Work to restore Victoria Park’s historic gates to their former glory is already underway. The city council successfully bid for up to £502,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to repair and refurbish the ornate Lutyens-designed gates, and to launch a wider ‘Story of Parks’ project.
A new toilet block was also opened last year, as part of the wider park revamp.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The Lutyens memorial arch is a monument of great local, and indeed national, significance. Along with the park’s wonderful gates, the memorial is among the architectural highlights of the city.
“We already have a very attractive approach to the war memorial along Peace Walk. However, over the years the link between the arch and the park’s main London Road gates has been lost and the arch is scarcely visible. We want to restore that link and provide this wonderful monument with the setting it deserves.
“It also provides us with an opportunity to completely overhaul the popular sport courts and make some much-needed improvements to the car parking for visitors to the park and De Montfort Hall.”
The Arch of Remembrance on Victoria Park is a Grade-1 listed monument. There are seven Grade-1 listed war memorials designed by Edwin Lutyens in the country, including the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
In recognition of the significance of Leicester's memorial, Historic England has recently revised its listing where it is now described as: ‘the most imposing of Lutyens’ English war memorials… an eloquent witness to the tragic impacts of world events on this community, and the sacrifices it made in the conflicts of the 20th century.’
The new processional route on Victoria Park will be completed as part of the city’s commemorations of the centenary of The Great War.
Funding for the project will come from the Leicester Economic Action Plan and prudential borrowing against future parking income.
The City Mayor is expected to announce the formal decision on Thursday, 26 November.
Work on the project is expected to begin in January 2016.