By the late 1990s, the park was starting to look somewhat unloved and many of the original features had either gone or were in need of work. After some research into the historical nature and landscape of the park, a submission was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Urban Parks project to fund the restoration. The park received £1.3 million from the grant and some additional funding from CYC and the private sector in 2000 and work started to reinstate many of the original features and create new ones.
The project focused on the central core from park keepers lodge/Cafe to Terry’s Avenue gates, the bandstand, play park provision, integrating and improving Clementhorpe Beck and the Butcher Terrace Field. The cascade area was returned to its former glory – a small waterfall and horseshoe shape. Cracks were repaired in the lake, islands rebuilt, dovecot repaired, footpaths and bowling greens repaired.
The park had been extended in the mid-1990s to add the Butcher Terrace field (football field). The restoration project wanted to improve part of this area – Clemethorpe Beck was to be improved and Butcher Terrace field integrated more. The Butcher Terrace ‘Millenium Gates’ were installed at this time.
Work continued over the next couple of years and the Friends of Rowntree Park planted more trees, the rose pergola walkway was added, and the statue of Mercury (which had been missing) reinstated. The play park was added, as were sculptures in the park. Designed by Mike Oakenful and made by Chris Wormald. Natural materials were used to create the helmet, horse and totem pole (green man). The basketball courts and skatepark were also added.
The Young Friends of Rowntree Park took part in a mosaic workshop called ‘make your mark in the park’ in the park cafe in 2005. The children’s footprints were cast into bricks and used to form the ‘footprint maze’, Kate Lock arranged this event. This continued a tradition in the park – when the bandstand was originally rebuilt, local children helped create the floor. The trail of the maze leads to a central stone donated by the Friends that reads ‘Tread lightly on the earth’ It’s about respecting the planet – those who follow them into the maze will uncover the message.
Rowntree Park Skatepark
In 2000, a group of local young people requested a skateboard and BMX park on the Butcher Terrace Field. 10-year-olds, Garry Rookes and James Elliott took a petition to York Council and presented it to Dave Meigh, the Head of Parks and Open Spaces. The B&K Skaters (Bishopthorpe and Knavesmire) group set up campaigning for the facility in the park.
The council agreed one could be sited on the old tennis court near Terry’s ave. The skatepark would cost £43,000, so the kids set about fundraising.
York Youth Forum helped and they were given a part-time youth worker to help with the plans and fundraising. Community artist, Rachel Deadman, helped coordinate the group. They managed to get ward funding, had a ‘jam’ in Sainsbury’s carpark with ‘zoo’ skateboarders. By 2003 they’d raised 40,000 and GBH Engineering started work. There was £8,000 was still to be raised. This came from a number of amazing places – Bishophill and Fishergate Wards, York Challenge Fund, JRF, Cattles PLC, and N Yorkshire Community Foundation, the racecourse and the Friends of Rowntree Park. The Skate Park was opened on the 4th of July 2003. The B&K skaters cut the ribbons.
In 2017 the skate park was redesigned. Thanks to a generous donation from Sylvia Maynard. Sylvia has been clear in her will on how she wanted the money to be used. She didn’t want a big fuss, just for people to enjoy it the skatepark. Designed by Wheelscapes, Rowntree Park’s skatepark has been recognised by the York Design Awards, for excellence in design for a community project.
Rowntree Park Basketball Courts
The Basketball courts were also added around the late 1990s/early 2000s at the request of local teens. Joe Garnham, Mark Healy, Tom Hines, Ian Stevenson and Chris Tudor campaigned to have the courts installed. This was the only outdoor free court of its time.
However, the courts have got a little worn over the last 15 years. In 2018 some kind local, DJ Jon Bakerhood, funded some new nets. He and Joe Garnham (one of the original teens who helped get the courts) installed them. Sadly the nets didn’t last as the rims and backboards were in need of repair. In 2019, local basketballer, David Collinson raised money for the improvements to the basketball nets, backboards and rims. Money was donated by lots of local people and also Basketball England. There are plans to add more benches in the court, and we were looking into having the floor redone (current situation means a lot is on hold!)