Nottingham City Council is ready to embark on the next stage of developing the Victoria Embankment Memorial Gardens, having received approval from the Executive Board to submit a bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) on 25 August. An announcement on the outcome of the bid is expected in December 2021.
Alongside this, contributions will be sought from additional external grant funding over the next five months to ensure the project is 100% fully funded at the time of the NLHF grant decision.
The land was originally bought by Sir Jesse Boot, the founder of Boots the Chemist, and was sold to the Corporation of Nottingham in 1920 so that it could be preserved as open space and a memorial site in perpetuity.
The Memorial Gardens located at Victoria Embankment are a Grade II listed Historic Parks and Garden. Over 100 years have passed since the garden was created in order to provide a living memorial to those who gave their lives in the two World Wars and to provide a suitable place for contemplation and relaxation.
Over the years, the gardens have fallen into a state of disrepair. While the infrastructure is mainly intact, some features within the garden require restoration, repair, or replacement. These include the Queen Victoria statue and the gardens’ water fountain, which are both in need of restoration. The War Memorial and its under-croft require repairs, and the toilet facilities need replacing with updated facilities. The project will also improve the existing café to help increase revenue through a greater footfall and improved access, with more new toilets.
Proposed improvements include:
- Restoring the War Memorial and the under-croft including toilets
- Restoring the Queen Victoria Statue and landscaping
- Restoring the ponds, fountain and rockery
- Restoring and improving the existing café to create a visitor centre, meeting room, display space and toilets
- Infrastructure upgrades and access improvements, including footpaths, walkways, lighting, gates, main entrances and balustrades
- Planting and tree works
- Street furniture and signage
- Site boundary works: Depot screening and improvements
- Engagement programme, including volunteering, events, activities, walks and talks, work placements, bandstand concerts, corporate days, public tours, oral history projects
Following the centenary of the First World War in 2018 and the construction of the new WW1 Nottinghamshire War Memorial, a considerable increase in visitor numbers and interest in the memorial gardens has been recorded.
During the project development, many meetings have taken place with military associations and veterans’ groups, from which discussions have taken place about the council’s work with the Armed Forces and support for the delivery of the Armed Forces Community Covenant. These discussions have helped shape the project and, through the delivery of the new Team Leader and work placements alongside the continued support for Military Associations and veterans’ groups, the project will help the council to increase its contribution and commitment to delivery of the Armed Forces Community Covenant.
The project will also provide an extensive programme of activities for the public that will be led by a new Team Leader. The post will help train new work placements in land-based skills, at the end of which the work placements will be skilled to be able to seek further job opportunities within street-scene and grounds maintenance teams.
Councillor Rosemary Healy, Lead Councillor for Parks, said: “We are very excited to have received approval to go ahead with planning the next phase of developments for Victoria Embankment. The team has a great track record of delivering successful projects at this scale and the response to the works already undertaken on the Embankment has been wonderful.
“This project funding is essential to drive forward the restoration and improvement of the gardens and help prevent further disrepair, while preserving an important part of the city’s heritage. We look forward to working with partners and funders to deliver another project that really benefits all our citizens as well as visitors from outside the city.”