A £5.1 million transformation of West Smethwick Park is being celebrated with a free community event for local residents this Sunday, 21 August.
The restoration and improvement project – which includes the new Pavilion with café, historic restorations and landscape improvements, and a dedicated West Smethwick Park community engagement coordinator – has been made possible thanks to a £4.5 million National Lottery Heritage Fund Parks For People grant with the remaining monies coming from Sandwell Council.
The restoration and improvement project has benefited from engagement and input from the Friends of West Smethwick Park, community groups, and residents.
The community launch event – which will see the official opening of the new West Smethwick Park Pavilion Building at 11am by the Leader of Sandwell Council, Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, and Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism, Councillor Laura Rollins – will see a free family fun day of activities, events and celebration to mark a new chapter in the history of the much-loved park.
Attractions include: * live music and stage performances all day * crafts and storytelling * Bollywood dance and Dhol drumming performance and workshops * steel pan performance and workshops * circus skills, stilt walkers and giant bubbles * Farm to Town with animals and fake milking goat * free sporting activities * community stalls * food and drink including hot samosas and a bar and pizza tent heritage display and other local live performers include Gary Bell (Jazz), Tom Heyes (Brat Pack) and local band Thunder Chunky.
The new Pavilion forms the centrepiece of the restoration and boasts a café, seating area and community area which will be used for activities. It will be open for community use and to hire for events, informal sports activities, classes and clubs.
Other improvements carried out as part of the facelift to the park include:
• restoration of the memorial to James Chance which is a Grade ll – listed structure built in 1897;
• refurbishment of the wall and piers, and recreating gates and railings at the entrance gateways in West Park Road and Victoria Road;
• restoration of the drinking fountain;
• construction of a new boat house;
• upgrading the multi-use games area to include tennis courts;
• nature conservation improvements including woodland, grassland and wetland works;
• new outdoor gym equipment;
• restoration of the airmen’s memorial where a plane crashed in 1944.
Councillor Laura Rollins, Sandwell’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism, said: “It’s great to see this amazing restoration and improvement of the park come together, thanks to the hard work of council officers, community groups and the Friends of the Park.
“This is the beginning of an exciting new era for West Smethwick Park. We already have a community engagement officer who is now working hard to engage with community groups and residents to organise activities, events and bookings for the Pavilion and the other new park facilities.
“We’ll be delivering a programme of outdoor and indoor activities as part of the Lottery Grant.
“I’d urge as many people as possible to come along to share in this fantastic launch event and celebrate the ‘new’ West Smethwick Park.”
Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, Sandwell Council Leader, added: “We’re continuing to invest in further improvements at West Smethwick Park, this includes £90,000 funding for the children’s play area with work due to start in the next six weeks. This will be totally refurbished, with new play equipment, improved access, and new safety surfaces. Other landscaping, planting, and lake improvements are continuing to take place in the park.”
Drop-in sessions are being held for local residents to visit the Pavilion and to suggest ideas for use. The next two are: Wednesday, 17 August from 4pm until 8pm, and Thursday, 18 August from 6.30pm-8pm.
For more information on the community launch event, facilities at the Pavilion and details of drop-in sessions, go to www.visitsandwell.com
The official opening of West Smethwick Park Pavilion takes place on Sunday, 21 August at 11am with a full day of community activities, events and celebration from 10am-7pm.