Thanks to a £1,274,300 grant to a Carmarthenshire charity from the National Lottery the dream of revitalising Bishop’s Park at Abergwili is on the point of realisation.
Working in partnership with Carmarthenshire County Museum and the Church in Wales, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Tywi Gateway Trust – Ymddiriedolaeth Drws i’r Dyffryn has drawn up ambitious plans to reintegrate, conserve and revitalise the historic pleasure gardens, walled kitchen garden, as well as parts of the Great Meadow and Bishop’s Pond, both of great ecological interest. Centre-stage will be the Tywi Gateway Centre with activity and learning facilities, as well as the all-important coffee shop. Four members of staff will be recruited and volunteers, many of them local, will have key roles. All being well visitors will see work starting in earnest by the end of 2017.
The Walled Garden
This National Lottery award provides just over half of the project’s estimated £2.3 million total costs. It was left to the Trust – with its predecessor, the local branch of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust (WHGT) – to raise the remaining balance. Carmarthenshire County Council has contributed £300,000 to capital costs and news of the award of a grant from the Welsh Government Rural Communities Development Programme is awaited. The rest has come from charitable trusts and individual donations.
On behalf of the Park’s Trustees Michael Norman states, “one of the great strengths of Bishop’s Park is that it’s much loved by local people; it’s their park. Working alongside the County Museum and the future Tywi Valley Cycleway, Bishop’s Park will therefore be a community-driven and reinvigorated place that’s more welcoming, accessible and attractive for quiet recreation and learning. Health and well-being will also be high on the agenda, as will opportunities for volunteering and employment”.
Michael adds, “the Park will mesh its visitor facilities with those of the Museum to help assure the future of both, an innovative concept we believe is unique to Wales. And if more people would like get involved we’d really like to hear from them!”
Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, says: “This is a huge achievement by a dedicated group of local volunteers. Carmarthenshire Museums has collaborated with the WHGT and Tywi Gateway Trust throughout this exciting project development and is really looking forward to the next stage of this journey. Alongside the Park scheme, the planned cycleway development and proposals to revitalise the Museum will together provide a significant and high quality heritage and leisure attraction over the coming years.”
HLF’s Chief Executive Ros Kerslake, says, on behalf of HLF: “It’s difficult to overstate the importance of our public parks. Vital to our well-being and essential to biodiversity, they are highly valued spaces enjoyed daily by people from all walks of life. Bishops Park is one of the latest parks to benefit from over £900million of National Lottery funding, which over the last twenty years has played a crucial role in revitalising more than 800 parks across the UK.”