Queen's Diamond Jubilee Flowerbed and Sculpture
In 2011 a member of Friends of Marple Memorial Park suggested at one of our meetings that we should do something in the park to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Separately, another member felt it would be a good idea to invite the local college's Horticultural Department and Students to get involved with hands-on work in the park and set the wheels in motion to see if this could be arranged.
These two independent ideas then morphed into a brand new community project to refurbish the rundown flowerbed in front of the library, turning it into something much more interesting as a permanent display to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Year of 2012.
About the Project
The Diamond Jubilee Project began in late 2011 as a collaboration between Friends of Marple Memorial Park and Cheadle and Marple College's Horticultural Department to commemorate the 2012 Queen's Diamond Jubilee in the park. The project is supported by the Council's Parks and Recreation team, the borough's Library Services, Marple Area Committee and Stockport Homes.
The Concept Design was produced by the college's Tatton Show award-winning Horticultural Department lecturer Rebecca Knowles. Rebecca's design is inspired by the Queen's Coronation in 1953 and in particular by the Orb and Crown Jewels, the Cosmati Pavement in Westminster Abbey and the incredible Illumination structures along the Mall.
The college's Horticultural Department normally enter the Tatton Show but this year they are so enthused by the Diamond Jubilee Project in our park that they are forgoing Tatton so that they can give it their full commitment.
The concept design for the new flower bed display comprises of four main elements with an optional fifth:
A raised border in hard landscape materials laid with mosaic corners to hint at the Cosmati Pavement. The long sides may be carved with an inscription to commemorate the jubilee and would be a permanent part of the bed.
The elevated sculpture is inspired by the illuminations along the Mall and also the shape of the glorious vaulted ceiling in Westminster Abbey. A central feature of the sculpture will represent the ceremonial Orb. This will be constructed from metal and coloured glass and it is hoped to illuminate it using solar powered lighting so that the colours are reflected around the space.
We have commissioned metal art sculptor Wayne Chaisty to create this element of the project. As many local people will know, Wayne did the circular Coronation Bench in the park, the locks display on Oldknow Gardens and the Nativity sculpture that is featured on Market Street each Christmas, so he has a fantastic track record locally.
Flower Bed Planting
The raised rectangular bed will be planted in blues, purples, silvers and whites with red as an accent colour. The layout will be designed as a detailed mosaic with stars and other devices in jewel colours with white and red highlights. Green will be used as a background colour. The plants have been specified and will be grown on and planted by the college's Horticultural Students.
Interpretation Panel (Phase 2)
We also plan to install an interpretation panel to explain how the bed came into being and acknowledge the community contributions that helped it to happen. This will be done after the display is established so that it can include photos of the work in progress, the planting and pictures of it in full bloom during the summer.
Unfortunately, quite late on in the project's development, the council advised us that full planning permission was needed before we could proceed with any of the work. This was a technical challenge for us as the planners required detailed drawings, a Design Access Statement and even wanted dimensions of the proposed lectern display panel and the optional bench before they would validate our application. To be honest they weren't very helpful either considering that we are a community group helping to improve a council owned park not a development company building houses! Anyway, after much toing and frowing, our planning application was eventually registered on 17 April and it was approved with conditions on 31 May 2012. The documents can be found on the Council's Planning Portal by searching for DC/049546.
Due to the planning requirements we abandoned our target to have the first phase of the project completed by the Jubilee weekend and decided to proceed on the basis that it would be finished whenever it was finished. This delay was very disappointing to everyone involved but we could not risk spending donated money that would have been wasted if planning permission was refused, or if particular constraints were imposed upon the project.
Even after planning permission was granted, which cost us £170, we had to submit a list of materials of external construction and pay a further £85 to get them approved - yet the fee for a domestic extension is only £25. How does that work, eh?
Fantastic Financial Help and Support
Thanks to fantastic community support the financial situation is much better news and contributions towards the project have been received from the Macnair Trust (£600), The Marple Website (£1,000), Friends of Memorial Park (£1,000), Marple Bridge and Mellor U3A Gardening Group (£25), Marple Local History Society (£500), Marple Civic Society (£500), Cheadle & Marple College (£300), Marple Business Forum (£100), Marple Area Committee (£1,000) and Stockport Homes (£1,000).
The money we need..
The costs for the project (including 10% contingency on future spends) are:
- Phase 1 - £5,408 - Planning fees, landscape works, sculpture, plants and notice board refurbishment.
- Phase 2 - £880 - Lectern display panel explaining the project.
- Optional - £1,650 - Bespoke metal bench.
So far a total of £6,275 has been raised, which means that we are only £13 short and have effectively achieved the funding we need for phase 1 and 2. At the moment it looks like we may not be able to afford the bespoke metal bench but we have submitted a grant application to the Vernon Building Society Jubilee Fund for £1,000 and if this is successful we will be back on track. We recently had a letter from the Vernon advising that they have had such a great response to their fund that they have doubled the funding allocated from £5,000 to £10,000. Hopefully this improves the chances of our project being one of those selected. We should learn the outcome by the end of September.
It was wonderful to actually get started on the project at last after protracted delays due to the requirement for planning permission (more details further down the page). The hard landscaping contractor Bramhall Paving Services made a fantastic job of the footings, dwarf wall and coping, finishing the work during our task day on 28 July.
We then created some foundation box-outs to allow the metal art sculpture to be installed later without too much disturbance to the plants. These were desperate to be planted out due to the delays we had experienced. The plants had been grown-on and tended since February by the horticultural staff and students at Cheadle and Marple Sixth Form College and it was a great relief to everyone when they were finally planted on Tuesday 14 August 2012 (see photos below). The students were supported by Mark Whittaker from Friends of the Park and by Bob and Tom from Solutions SK. We would like to thank SSK for allowing them to help with the transport and planting.
The next big step forward will be the installation of the sculpture and we are looking forward to seeing the results of Metal Art Sculptor Wayne Chaisty's efforts in due course. Wayne was given the go-ahead to start work a couple of weeks ago and we hope it won't be too long before we have progress to report on this major element of the project too.
Sunday 30 September was a very special day as far as our Diamond Jubilee project is concerned as this is the day that we finally installed the sculpture, which is obviously a key feature of the project. The sculpture was created by local metalwork artist Wayne Chaisty, and brings to life the original concept design prepared by Marple college's horticultural tutor Rebecca Knowles. Wayne was helped by Friends of the Park volunteers Patrick O'Herlihy, Terry Wood and Mark Whittaker. We are absolutely delighted with the results and it is a huge relief to finally get the job done after all the setbacks and obstacles we have had to overcome to keep the project going. This is not the end of the project though, as we now have an interpretation panel to create that will explain how this new feature came into being and thanks everyone who has helped us to achieve it.
Display Panel Installed / Planting plans for 2013
The display panel explaining the background and inspiration for this project was installed during our Task Day at the end of March 2013. The large photograph forming the background of the panel shows college horticultural students planting the bed out in July last year. The panel also includes details of the local groups and organisations that contributed to this community driven project to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
The bed was planted out with 800 Polyanthus during our February 2013 Task Day. This is a temporary measure to introduce colour to the bed whilst the college horticultural department prepare a new summer bedding scheme that is expected to be planted out during late April to May. At this time the Polyanthus will be transplanted to other areas of the park.