Queen’s Park was opened in 1899, its creation having been prompted by Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Lying at the heart of Loughborough, the park is the most extensive, and arguably one of the most important, living elements of the public realm within Loughborough. It has been an important leisure and recreation resource for the town since its inception, and continues to be widely used today: Both formally, for commemorations, and concerts at the bandstand and from the Carillon, and for general recreation, summer picnics and open air events. The park is open daily from 7:30am and is locked at dusk.
Queen’s Park was awarded Green Flag status for the first time in 2008 and has retained it ever since. idverde UK (through its subsidiary company Quadron) has maintained the park on behalf of Charnwood Borough Council since April 2014 when the company was awarded the council’s 10-year Management of Open Space Services Contract.
At approximately 4 hectares, Queen’s Park is a fine example of a small Victorian Park. Indeed, some of its original Victorian features remain in place, such as the original gates and iron railings along the Granby Street frontage and Browns Lane entrance.
For many years, Queen’s Park has had some of the most spectacular bedding displays in the Borough, contributing to Loughborough winning Gold and best in the Small City category in 2015’s East Midlands in Bloom competition. Visitors frequently comment on the quality of the bedding displays, particularly those on and around the bandstand, which form a vibrant display of colour in summer.
Over recent years the Loughborough in Bloom Board has given students from Loughborough College the opportunity to design and create sculptures, which are installed in the main feature flowerbeds in front of Charnwood Museum, which is located within the park. In 2014, Quadron sponsored the sculptures, which were created by Amelia Seren Roberts to represent the three stages of mourning, in commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the start of World War One.
Other features of Queen’s Park include a bowling green, two ponds, a children’s maze with a stone swan centrepiece (sculpted by David Tarver in 1992), aviaries, a varied population of mature trees, and three play areas, including a DDA-compliant destination play area.
Queen’s Park is maintained on a daily basis by our Head Gardener and a Horticultural Supervisor. Our Contract Manager, Tony Jones, has overall responsibility over the site. The working practices and specification balance the need for good horticultural practice while ensuring public safety. All staff wear uniform so that they are visible to visitors, thus increasing the feeling of safety. The Head Gardener has undertaken health and safety, customer care and equalities training, as well as Conflict Management, which helps minimise cases of anti-social behaviour in the park.
Queen’s Park is the only formal park in the Borough with a dedicated Rangers presence. The Rangers are idverde staff and provide a seven day a week service patrolling the park and litter picking. Their duties also include general security, providing a friendly and trustworthy presence, locking gates, liaising with visiting groups such as schools, daily litter collection and emptying bins, and safe disposal of dogs’ mess.
The staff based in Queen’s Park undertake most of the grounds maintenance tasks, with support from additional grounds maintenance staff from idverde’s depot at Derby Road Playing Field. Frontline staff have input into the standard of maintenance in the park. Frequencies have been removed from the work programme, with the onus being placed on the supervisor to decide the appropriateness of operations to prevent unnecessary work and minimise the use of materials such as pesticides. The Queen’s Park team has therefore developed a true sense of ownership and commitment to raising standards.
Queen’s Park has an active ‘Friends of’ group, who are extremely involved in the maintenance and ongoing development of the park. Our staff meet with the group regularly and has worked with them on a number of activities, including sessions to help tidy and prepare the park for In Bloom judging and a community ‘Clean for the Queen’ day as part of the national campaign in spring 2016.
idverde’s Horticultural Development Manager, Nicola Clarke, has also formed partnerships with local stakeholders and has facilitated a number of community and corporate volunteer days, which have seen volunteers from Asda and Loughborough College visit the park to carry out horticultural tasks as part of their commitment to corporate social responsibility.
As an ISO 14001 accredited company, we aim to carry out its maintenance activities with minimum impact on the environment. All green waste, such as cut grass and shrub prunings, is composted on site. This ensures that shrub beds in the park will benefit from the valuable nutrient-rich compost. Where possible, there is commitment to a reduction of herbicide by the use of mulch, which is applied to many of the park’s borders to enhance appearance, suppress weed growth and reduce maintenance and watering requirements. Peat is no longer used as a top dressing for flowerbeds and all plant suppliers used to supply the park guarantee their products are free of peat. Other initiatives include returning bedding containers to the nursery supplier to be reused or recycled, and scheduling watering in of bedding for early morning or evening to minimise loss by evaporation.
Use of pesticides is avoided wherever possible, and only applied by staff who are NPTC PA1/PA6a qualified. COSHH assessments are held for all substances used and care is taken to prevent any products entering water courses. All tree bases, which were previously sprayed, are now weeded manually.
Cllr Hilary Fryer, Charnwood’s Cabinet Lead Member for Cleansing and Open Spaces has commented that “Queen’s Park is truly a product of partnership of skills, resource, time and commitment.” We are proud to be part of this partnership and to maintain this much loved Victorian town-park.