The revitalisation of Victoria Park has reached a major milestone with the launch of a new community hub, children’s play and other new facilities for people to enjoy.

The latest additions are part of a four-year project to revitalise Portsmouth’s historic park. The work is led by Portsmouth City Council and made possible by a £2.4m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

On Monday 18 March, council and Heritage Fund representatives joined project partners for a ceremony to officially open the new community hub. The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr Tom Coles, cut the ribbon on the building, named the Green House and built in the centre of the park with accessible public toilets, a meeting space and office.

The Lord Mayor and Cllr Suzy Horton, Deputy Leader of Portsmouth City Council, then put the final touches on a tree which has been planted in honour of the late Queen Elizabeth II, laying compost made from flowers laid at Guildhall Square after her death.

Portsmouth City Council Leader Cllr Steve Pitt said:

“We are delighted to officially open these exciting new community facilities, which I know will be enjoyed for many years to come. Back in 2020, we asked people how they wanted us to improve their park. We had a huge response from 2,500 people which helped shape our plans, and now after much hard work they have been brought to life.

“Victoria Park has been one of Portsmouth’s best-loved social place for well over 100 years and now it’s an even more valuable green space for people to enjoy and wildlife to thrive.”

The new play area, which will open soon, has been created especially for under-fives, close to the existing older children’s play area, with a fort to climb and explore, a swing, sand pit and sensory area.

The project has been inspired by the original idea of the park as a ‘People’s Park’. Its historic monuments are being lovingly restored, including the now completed aviary where the much-loved resident birds, including a peacock and peahen, have returned. Work to restore the original fountain continues.

Already completed work includes the planting of new trees and a nature area created in the northern quarter, which has transformed the park into a haven for wildlife. The original railings have been restored, with new paths and information signs added.

Stuart McLeod, Director of England – London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“Victoria Park is the green heart of Portsmouth and is hugely significant both historically and culturally for the city. We’re proud to be supporting its restoration thanks to money raised by National Lottery players and it’s fantastic to see these new spaces officially opened for the community.”

Public celebrations in May

A public launch of the new-look park is taking place on 25 May, on the 146th anniversary of the “People’s Park” first opening in 1878. People are invited to join a Victorian themed procession from the Guildhall Square, and to come and see the new facilities and enjoy free taster sessions of the programme of activities and events taking place in the park this summer.

Find out more about the project and details of the public event on 25 May closer to the time at www.victoriaparkportsmouth.org.uk or by searching Victoria Park Portsmouth on Facebook.