• Client:
    Durham County Council
  • Location:
  • Contract Value:

Wharton Park, Durham

Wharton Park is located in the heart of Durham City and has undergone significant restoration works. Works included the creation of a new heritage centre and café, new play and fitness areas and restoration works to the amphitheatre, battlements, Albert the Good statue, Way Sculpture and miniature car track.

Hectares of land


There has been a formal park on the site since 1858 and was the site of the first Miners’ Gala in 1871. The park occupies 4.3 hectares of land within the Durham City Conservation Area and a Heritage Lottery and Big Lottery Fund grant of £2.45m in January 2014 enabled restoration works to commence.

The land was previously owned by William Lloyd Wharton, who in 1858 gave use of the land to the City making Wharton Park one of the earliest public parks in the region.

The heritage centre is located next to the car park and is easily accessible to all users. It is located on top of the hill to make the most of the views across the park and city. It also creates a focal point on the battlement walk. The centre provides new toilet and baby change facilities, a café with indoor and outdoor seating, an education space for visiting groups, a park managers office, information about the park and its heritage, new play areas between the building and the car park. The centre was constructed using piled foundations, steel frame, kalzip roof, aluminium curtain walling with random stone external walls.

There are two new play areas. Play area one replaces the existing play provision and comprises junior and toddler play. Play area two provides play opportunities for older children, including a climbing net and cableway.

Restoration works were completed the Grade II listed battery, battlement walls, turret and site wide retaining walls. Works involved structural stabilisation works, rebuilding and re-pointing. Some areas required dismantling and rebuilding and the inclusion of concrete ring beams and stainless steel ground anchors to ensure they are stable. To remain in keeping lime mortar was used.

Improvements were completed to the existing amphitheatre and included new seating, railings, steps and electricity supply.

The existing entrance ways were also subject to improvements and included restoration works to the stone walls, piers, railings and gates. Footpath improvements were completed across the park and consisted of new kerbs, edgings and tarmac finish. A new substation, car parking and road widening completed the external services. Street furniture, signage and lighting were also improved.

The Albert the Good statue was reinstated within the park. The body had been located in the Durham Council yard. In addition the art installation called the Way was reinstated. It consists of monoliths and carved statues. Soft landscaping enhancements included new tree and shrub planting, reinstated hedging, fruit trees and mixed flora.

Work experience opportunities were provided to students at Durham College. Seven were involved and included brick layers, joiners and electricians. We were also involved with three local secondary schools to provide the Building My Skills Scheme. This yearlong programme provides students with employability skills. The scheme is provided at no cost to the schools.


This project was procured through the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO) which has established frameworks for Building Construction Works, Transportation and Civil Engineering Consultancy Services and Building Construction Consultancy:

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