"Coronation Bench" for Queen's commemorative oak
Consultation, public support and funding
In August 2005 we set up an on-line consultation to establish the level of support for the Friends' proposal to place a circular bench around the 'Coronation Tree' in Marple Memorial Park. This idea had developed after it came to the attention of the Friends Group that the oak tree next to the main path running through the park, and adjacent to the bowling green, was planted as part of the Queen's Coronation celebrations in 1953. It was ceremoniously planted by Councillor M. S. Arnfield JP (chairman of the Council) during a day-long pageant on Saturday 6th June, following the Coronation itself on Tuesday 2nd. A plaque was erected recording the event but at some point during the intervening years this has been lost.
Initially the Friends proposed to simply replace the missing plaque with a new one to ensure that the knowledge of the tree's origins was retained for future generations. However, whilst discussing this on site, their ideas developed further and they reached the conclusion that the tree is an ideal site for a circular tree bench. The tree is at the heart of the park and the views in every direction are superb. From a seat around the tree it will be possible to take in the tranquility of a game of bowls, the bustle and activity of the skate park, the beauty of the ornamental trees and flowerbeds, the War Memorial and, on a clear day, the magnificent views of the distant hills.
After investigating the costs of circular benches the Friends discovered that one suitable for the size of the Coronation Tree would cost well over £1,000 and would probably have to be bespoke made, which would cost significantly more. However, in a moment of inspiration, the Friends approached local business "Ironwood", on Stockport Road, who agreed to create a special one-off designed circular bench in metal for only £500.
The Friends hoped to pay for the bench by applying for a Green Space Development Grant from Stockport Council. One of the key requisites for receiving a Green Space Development Grant is to have undertaken consultation within the local community. We are pleased to advise that the consultation results were overwhelmingly supportive and the application was successful, with a Green Space Development Grant of £500 being awarded to the Friends in October 2005.
Update 11 July 2006:
Fabrication progressing well
For anyone wondering how things have been progressing with the Coronation Bench project, the answer is very well! Fabrication of the bench by Wayne Chaisty of Ironwood, on Stockport Road, is complete and following a trial fitting a few weeks ago we have now installed the foundations around the tree. The bench has now gone for painting - it turned out too big for Wayne's spray booth - and will hopefully be in place within the next few weeks. In the meantime, the photograph below will give you an idea how it's going to look, as Adrian Ellis, Park Manager (right), and Mark Whittaker of the Friends of Memorial Park pose with one half of the bench in situ.
Update 27 August 2006:
The bench was installed by Wayne Chaisty and his colleague Steve today, and what a fantastic job they did. The bench looks absolutely superb and we only hope that the vandals leave it alone. As well as Wayne and Steve we were helped with the humping and shifting by Park Manager Adrian Ellis and his colleague from Parks and Recreation Dave Forber. All we need to do now is get the plaques made and the job is complete. It is almost exactly 12 months since we had this idea and started out with the on-line consultation, which helped us show that the community supported our grant application. So we'd just like to say thank you again to everyone who has supported this idea and helped us turn it into reality.
Here are some picture taken during and after the installation:
Update 15 October 2006:
Plaques fitted and project completed
The Coronation Bench project is finally completed! The monitoring report has been sent to Stockport Council's Community Services section, who awarded the grant of £500 almost exactly 12 months ago, and has been acknowledged by them. Today the commemorative plaques explaining why the bench is there, and that it was made by Wayne Chaisty of Ironwood for Friends of Marple Memorial Park, have been fitted. Here's a shot of the new plaque explaining why the bench is there:
By coincidence, this postcard of Marple Park won on e-Bay recently appears to show the Coronation Tree as a young sapling, soon after it was planted.
Update 21 September 2008:
Repairs after vandalisation
We'd just like to say a quick thank you to Wayne Chaisty, who returned to the park on Friday 19 September to carry out repairs to the bench. Unfortunately it was vandalised earlier this year and five leaves wrenched from the backrest of the bench. It must have taken quite an effort and why anyone would want to do this is a mystery. We'd also like to thank Marple Library, who came to our aid with materials to make some 'wet paint' signs and the people who stood guard to prevent students sitting on the bench while we went and got them!
Wayne replacing some of the missing leaves.
Apart from the vandalism the bench is wearing well but we will need to give it a rub down and a fresh coat of paint in the spring. If you'd like to be involved in this and other tasks to improve our park then please join the Friends' Task Days on the last Saturday of each month.