This is what is happening to the closed-off steps in Preston's Miller Park

Local stone will be sourced to replace the balustrades running up the side of the iconic steps in Preston’s Miller Park.

By Paul Faulkner
Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 8:14 am

The much-loved focal point - at the summit of which stands a statue of the nineteenth century Prime Minister, the fourteenth Earl of Derby - has been partially cordoned off since late last year after an inspection by a specialist restoration contractor.

That revealed the curved decorative and safety feature on the eastern set of stairs had actually become a safety hazard - and was at risk of collapse.

A report to Preston City Council’s cabinet indicates that the western steps would also eventually need closing if the condition of the balustrades on that side deteriorated any further - which would completely cut off the final stage of the popular assent.

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The eastern set of steps in Miller Park have been closed since November 2020 due to health and safety concerns over the stone balustrades (all images: Neil Cross)

Cabinet members have now approved the replacement of both balustrades so that the steps in the Grade II-listed park can remain in use.

It is not known whether the previously sturdy handrails date back to when the park was created back in the 1860s.

A tendering exercise will now be carried out to identify a contractor capable of carrying out the work within the budget set aside for it. As that process is yet to take place, the estimated cost of the scheme has not yet been made public.

Cllr Robert Boswell, the authority’s cabinet member for environment and community safety, warned that it may be a while yet before visitors can once again choose which way to turn as they approach the final flight of steps.

An inspection found the stone balustrades on the eastern steps were at risk of collapse

He told the Lancashire Post that there are ”significant lead-in times for the local stone to be quarried and supplied”.

“Our parks and open spaces have become even more important to us over the past year, for both our physical and mental wellbeing.

“However, the welfare of park visitors is paramount, and following inspection in November 2020, it was necessary to close off one side of the balustrade steps in Miller Park for health and safety reasons.

“Cabinet recently approved funding for the repairs, which will be carried out as soon as resources are in place,” Cllr Boswell added.

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There are no balustrades alongside the steps up to the first level
The statue of the fourteenth Earl of Derby overlooks Miller Park - the platform behind it is known as Derby Walk