COVENTRY’S historic London Road Cemetery is among 16 sites around the country in line for a share of £34m Lottery cash.
The Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund have made the grants under the ‘Parks for People’ scheme to help some of the UK’s “most precious, yet tired green spaces”.
A £2million grant has been earmarked to help restore the Grade 1 Listed cemetery to its former glory as a popular city park – as it was when it was created by designer Joseph Paxton in 1845.
The money would enable the council to return it to its original design, repairing major features such as the Promenade and chapel, as well as monuments and graves.
The project would include opportunites for children to learn more about the important Victorians buried there, who had a major influence on Coventry’s engineering history.
Coouncillor Rachel Lancaster, cabinet member for public services, said: “London Road is an amazing site, of which the city should be very proud.
“This grant money will help us to not only return the cemetery to its wonderful original design, but to make sure the stories of the site and the people buried there are not forgotten.
“Coventry is a city that is very proud of its history and this really can be a jewel in our heritage crown. If you have never visited the cemetery before, I really suggest you take a look and see just how good it is.”
The cemetery is included in 70-acres around Coventry city centre which the Historic Coventry Trust wants to become a Heritage Park.
Trust chairman Ian Harrabin said: “The council has done incredibly well in securing almost all of the funding needed to restore Joseph Paxton’s arboretum cemetery.
“Coming so soon after the approval of £4.7m for the Charterhouse, this is a huge vote of confidence in the ambitious Heritage Park project and recognition of the visionary change that the park and indeed the city’s heritage overall can make for the future.
“The early grant approval means that major progress will be made on restoring an outstanding landscape in time for the City of Culture bid. It really shows what can be achieved if we all pull together.”
The cemetery was designed as an arboretum, with many new species of trees and combines a cemetery and a park over a seven hectare site and also includes three chapels.
The ageing cemetery and its buildings are now in need of repair, with storms, wear and tear and vandalism causing problems. Few of the graves are in good repair.