Avenham Park boat gets royal seal of approval

Mayor of Preston Veronica Afrin and school children from St Mary Magdelene officially open the new play area extension in Avenham Park.

Mayor of Preston Veronica Afrin and school children from St Mary Magdelene officially open the new play area extension in Avenham Park.

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A handcrafted play area complete with a wooden boat has set sail in one of the city’s flagship parks.

The play area in the heart of Avenham Park in Preston has been extended because it is so popular with visitors – and park rangers are also hoping one aspect meets with royal 
approval.

The centrepiece of the play area is a carved wooden boat called SS Avenham.

The boat, along with the carved wooden dolphin from the original playground, 
completes an aquatic theme inspired by the park’s proximity to the River Ribble.

And another new addition to the play area is a wooden carved table and set of chairs 
dedicated to Prince George, the son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Scores of schoolchildren from St Mary Magdalen’s Catholic Primary School in Penwortham joined the Mayor of Preston, Coun Veronica Afrin, for the official opening.

She said: “I was honoured to be opening the extension to this ever popular play area.

“The equipment looks great and I am sure the children will have great fun on it.”

SS Avenham was crafted by sculptor James Shelliker, from Acorn Woodcraft, of Kirkham.

He said: “I have never done a boat before, it was a one-off. The biggest problem I had was sourcing the timber. It was a big job. It is made out of two pieces that are bolted together.

“I do a lot of carving, but not a lot of playground stuff. They gave me a drawing to work from so it is as they asked for it.”

The rest of the extension includes a range of new play equipment including a slide, a rope bridge, wobble board and a climbing frame.

And there is a tunnel made from saplings of willow bent over into an arch.

A Preston Council spokesman added: “This area is popular with parents and grandparents as it is a place to sit whilst they watch their children play safely.”