Restored Derry park re-opens in full Victorian splendour
DERRY'S Brooke Park re-opens to the public today following a £5.6m project to restore it to its full Victorian-era grandeur.
Brooke Park gardens were first opened to the public in 1901.
The park was originally a private garden around the Gwyn’s Charitable Institute, a boys’ orphanage which was used as Derry's main public library for many years.
It became the target of IRA attacks when the British army took control of part of the park during the Troubles and the building was eventually destroyed in a fire.
The park, stretching from the city’s St Eugene’s Cathedral to Rosemount, also fell into decline and became a focus for anti-social behaviour.
The newly-opened facility includes a new “Gwyn’s Pavilion Café” on the site of the original orphanage, while the original gate lodge has been fully restored as has the former Victorian oval pond.
New additions include a play garden, walled garden, a horticulture and environment training centre and a contact sports centre.
Derry mayor Hilary McClintock said the largest park on Derry’s west bank had been completely transformed.
“I think the public will be absolutely delighted to see the end result which brings together the most state of the art leisure and play facilities and some of the park’s most picturesque historic features,” she said.
“The site has been restored to its former Victorian splendour and will once again become ‘the people’s park', as it was known, a vibrant social and leisure hub for our citizens as intended by its historic founder, John Gwyn, as well as a vibrant visitor attraction."