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Logo: Tom Bates, Derbyshire Local Histrory writer  
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Whitworth Centre & Park, Darley Dale:

Posted Saturday, July 7, 2007

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The Whitworth Centre & Park Darley Dale:

The Whitworth Institute and Park, originally opened in 1890 and now known collectively as the Joseph Whitworth Centre, is the lasting legacy left by wealthy Victorian industrial magnate, Sir Joseph Whitworth of Stancliffe Hall, and has benefitted the people of Darley Dale – and indeed those of Matlock, Bakewell and surrounding Derbyshire villages for over a century.

£1 Million Makeover

Recently the ten acre listed Victorian park has had a modern makeover, and has been equipped to provide almost every kind of recreational facility for another hundred years - courtesy of the hard work and foresight of the Whitworth Trustees and a One million pounds Heritage Lottery Grant.

Special Tribute:

After paying special tribute to Project Leader Terry Kilburn and his team, Chairman of the Whitworth Trustees, Mrs Iris Wagstaffe, who is also Darley Dale’s Deputy Mayor explained, “The Joseph Whitworth Centre is administered by a charitable trust for the benefit of the local community, and for over a century the trustees have battled to fulfil the conditions and requirements of the legacy without any external financial input of any kind. Now, with the aid of the Heritage Lottery Award, and thanks to a lot of hard work from a small nucleus of dedicated people, we have successfully completed the up-grading and restoration of Whitworth Park and have secured a vital and valuable resource for the people of Darley Dale and indeed, for the future posterity of the town.

A re-dedication ceremony is scheduled for January 5th 2003, said Mrs. Wagstaffe, “with a short service taking place on the Terrace overlooking the park, followed by a reception in the ballroom and a display of Whitworth archive artefacts courtesy of Dr. Margaret Sullivan from the Derbyshire Records Office. The event, which is by invitation only, will be attended by civic dignatories, trustees, members and friends”.

Ambitious Future Plans:

A significant achievement, and a welcome bonus for an area of Derbyshire which has frequently lamented the lack of sufficient provision of sporting and leisure facilities for a number of years - but only the first phase of the ambitious plans for the Whitworth Centre. The Deputy Mayor goes on to explain, “A feasibility study for the prospective regeneration of the Whitworth buildings complex is currently underway and scheduled plans are also afoot to provide an all-weather sports court, complete with new changing facilities, toilets and a covered pavilion and viewing gallery for spectators”.

Official Re-Opening

Following delayed completion of the park restoration project, which is behind schedule owing to severely inclement weather, the park will officially re-open on Saturday April 2nd 2003.

The Whitworth – Centre of Excellence

The Whitworth Centre is a magnificent grade two listed Victorian-gothic architectural gem situated alongside the A6 halfway between Matlock and Bakewell, whilst adjoining the centre is the six-bedroomed, fully licensed Whitworth Hotel.

The Centre and Park are the very heart of Darley Dale, and pulse with the life-blood of the community, providing a unique setting for all kinds of meetings, educational lectures, musical concerts and a whole range and variety of shows. It is a classy and romantic venue for weddings, dances and parties which are all catered for and the park is an ideal venue for trade, craft and antique fairs and can also accommodate caravan rallies, festivals and other major outdoor events.

The building and grounds are normally open from 9am to 10pm throughout the year – although it is possible to hire rooms and/or the grounds beyond normal opening hours. Catering can be provided by the Whitworth Hospitality Group, the adjacent Whitworth Hotel, or hirers can make their own arrangements – and there is ample car parking space at the rear of the main building – with parking for disabled/ceremonial at the front.

The Whitworth Centre

The Centre has five meeting rooms and a `loop’ system available on request for all ground floor rooms.

The Terrace Room which overlooks the tree-lined avenues of the park can seat one hundred guests and can be hired for larger meetings. It has both disabled access and toilet facilities.

The Ballroom can be hired for dances and functions and can facilitate dancing for 150 or seating for 220 people.

The Snooker/Billiards Room has two full size excellent tables, reputedly two of the best in the country and the Whitworth Centre has established itself as a leading venue for the sport of billiards in Britain, and each year during March the National Finals take place here.

There is also a fully equipped Badminton Court; easy access throughout to kitchen facilities, - and a ramp is thoughtfully provided to the front door entrance upon request.

Whitworth Park

The park provides for a wealth of sporting activities with soccer and cricket pitches, a Bowling Green for Crown Green Bowls and now also provides a new state-of-the-art, purpose-built Skateboard Arena, built following consultation with local skateboarding clubs and experts, and the only one of it’s kind in Derbyshire.

Whitworth Park also provides over ten acres of superbly landscaped grounds with pleasant walks along tranquil tree-lined avenues and a picturesque shallow lake, water features with an ornamental rustic wooden bridge, and an abundance of rare and mature trees which stand stately and proud beside the pathways throughout the park.

New Children’s Play Area

As part of the restoration and regeneration project an innovative and extensive new children’s play area has been provided with an exciting array of modern and traditional equipment, and with special attention given to safety features including user-friendly partitions and special seating areas for supervising adults. The comprehensive scheme has been very carefully thought out and superbly implemented to provide future generations of children with endless hours of leisure fun and entertainment in a safe and very pleasing environment.

The park is designed with practicality in mind but is aesthetically pleasing too – a veritable oasis of peace and tranquility beside the busy A6 - and the children’s play area combines a series of wood sculptures with themed play equipment, whilst the amazing wood-carving talents of artist Andrew Frost can be seen throughout the park, with sculptures of birds, squirrels and foxes superbly worked into the trunks of trees and adding a final artistic touch to the restoration and subsequent renaissance of the fine Victorian Park which graces the very heart of Darley Dale alongside the Joseph Whitworth Centre – which is truly a Centre of Excellence at the very heart of the Darley Dale community.

For further information and enquiries about the Whitworth Centre please contact: The Administrator, Joseph Whitworth Centre, Darley Dale, Matlock, Derbyshire. DE4 2EQ. Telephone 01629 – 733678. or Fax.735248.

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