The project is earmarked for the former brickworks site at Hesketh Bank follow an agreement between the owners, Altys, and a new charitable organisation, the West Lancashire Heritage Park. The land off Station Road forms part of a larger, strategic development site and a house building scheme is already under way on part of the site.
The remaining 20 acre area to be used for the heritage park is the former brickworks clay pit which now contains a lake and woodland. The venture will be a smaller scale development based on living museums in Beamish, Ironbridge and Amberley,
Farm operator Huntapac, of Tarleton, is part of the initiative and plans to bring its large collection of historic vehicles and agricultural equipment to the site for public exhibition.
A new charitable trust is being set up to manage the park on a not-for-profit basis. It is hoped the park will be developed in several phases over a period of time and be run by a mix of paid staff and volunteers. It is anticipated that some of the capital investment will come from grants and discussions have already started with potential grant funders.
Spokesman John Hart said: “Over the last few years the team has carried out a lot of research and has met with senior staff at many established heritage sites to understand success criteria. The North West is in fact the one populous region of the UK which currently does not have a site which interprets a wide range of heritage in a living way.
“Hesketh Bank is rich in local heritage stories. These include, brick making, the river, coastal shipping, horticulture and agriculture. Living museums also present old trades, crafts, shops and services such as blacksmiths, basket making, wheelwrights, bakers, bank, post and communications.
“This site produced bricks for over 100 years and they were used to build much of Southport and other local towns. This is a very attractive site and the Park will be developed sensitively especially in respect of the local community and neighbouring residents. The park will also provide a secure future for heritage light railway operations which are already on site and for the Southport Fly Fishing Club which currently fishes the lake.”
Project leaders say the scheme improve access to Becconsall Old Church and to the local countryside.The park and its facilities will form a gateway to the new England Coast Path, to the proposed linear park alongside the River Douglas and to the RSPB Hesketh Outmarsh site.