Residents and visitors to Harrogate have shown their love for the Valley Gardens after the award winning park attracted over 3 million visits in the last twelve months.
Since February 2012, Harrogate Borough Council’s Parks Team has been using an electronic counting device to record the number of visits made to the town’s beautiful gardens. Over the last year a staggering 3,151,852 visits have been made - an annual increase of 158,534.
Situated in Low Harrogate, the Valley Gardens along with an area known as the Pinewoods, covers 17 acres of park, woodlands, and floral displays. The park also contains a greater number of mineral springs than any other known place on earth - with 36 of Harrogate’s 88 mineral wells found within the gardens.
The park also features historic buildings, such as the Sun Pavilion and Colonnades; a children’s play area; outdoor games facilities including tennis courts, pitch and putt, and crazy golf; a skate park; boating pool and the Magnesia Well Café. For music lovers, band concerts take place on Sunday afternoons throughout the summer. Visitors in 2014 were also able to enjoy the newly created rock and sensory garden, and see the restored Magnesia Well Pump Room.
The English Heritage Grade II listed park which was named by RHS Britain in Bloom as the country’s favourite park in 2009, received further plaudits in 2014 when Harrogate scooped Gold in the Small City category at the RHS Britain in Bloom UK awards. Judges commented that ‘visitors to Harrogate are left in no doubt that this is a floral town. Beds, baskets and the Valley Gardens create an outstanding display’.
Harrogate Borough Council Leader Councillor Richard Cooper said: “The Valley Gardens and Pinewoods are the green jewel in our floral crown. They are award winners and a magnet for tourists, local walkers and young people. It is always a pleasure to walk in the Gardens and Pinewoods and see so many people there. The Valley Gardens is a major factor contributing to Harrogate´s special character.
"This doesn´t happen by accident though. The Gardens are so attractive because of the work of the council parks team who, week in and week out, maintain and improve them. I also pay tribute to the outstanding work of the Friends of Valley Gardens who do a magnificent job in partnership with the Council team. Maintaining and improving the Gardens happens because of that community and Council partnership. The new visitor figures show that it is a partnership that has been given over three million thumbs-ups in the past year."
Councillor Phil Ireland, Cabinet Member for the Environment, Transport and External Affairs said: “It is great to see that the number of visitors coming and enjoying the gardens is increasing, and is a testament to all the hard work undertaken by the parks grounds staff.”
Michael Newby, Director of Visit Harrogate commented: “It is great news to see that the number of visits to the Valley Gardens have broken through the three million mark. That so many people continue to visit two and half centuries after the area was set aside for the use of those visiting the mineral wells is testament to the care and attention put in by everyone who looks after these wonderful gardens. They are an important reminder of our spa heritage.
“This announcement is a reminder that the district has a wealth of gardens that are also seeing increased visitor figures. RHS Garden Harlow Carr has seen a 30% growth in visitors over the last four years, while Newby Hall and Studley Royal have also seen some significant increases.”
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