HISTORIC Peace Gardens in Stevens Park in Quarry Bank are to be restored to their former glory as part of a National Lottery funded restoration project.

The gardens, which were added to the park in 1931, are to be spruced up as part of the £1.8million project which is going ahead thanks to successful bids to the Heritage Lottery Fund and a Big Lottery Fund grant.

Quarry Bank born and bred Ernest Stevens, who gifted the park grounds to Quarry Bank Urban District Council in 1921 along with historic Tintern House, wanted the gardens to emphasise the importance of peace after the First World War.

Local architect Alfred Long designed the war memorial inside the gardens, which has been Grade II listed since 2017, and noted artist George Wade produced the sculpture of Christ which stands on top.

Very few memorials of the period focussed on peace and rarely would have had a depiction of Christ.

Eric Homer, from Quarry Bank Royal British Legion, said: "The peace memorial is the heart of Stevens Park and having secured Lottery funding to improve the park it is good that the peace memorial has not been forgotten.

"Funding will allow the memorial to be maintained and cleaned and disabled access to the memorial, which is essential for those less able veterans and visitors who wish to come and pay their respects not only at Remembrance time but throughout the year.

"There are 198 names remembered from three conflicts and we shall never forget them.”

After the First World War 147 soldiers were honoured on the memorial and a further 50 soldiers were added after the Second World War. The name of Quarry Bank Grenadier Guardsman Daniel Probyn, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2007, is also now on the memorial.

The improvement works will preserve the memorial and improve the footpath and make the space for accessible for wheelchair users and people with pushchairs.

Councillor John Martin, Dudley Council’s cabinet member for environmental services and highways, said: "The Peace Gardens are an important space where people can remember those who have given their lives in service and the many who continue to serve our country with honour and bravery.

"The gardens also play a vital role in people’s wellbeing - giving them somewhere that they can relax and reflect on adversity that they may be facing in their own lives.

"We are delighted to be delivering on this improvement work, which we know means a lot to our residents and will help to preserve the gardens for the many generations to come.”

David Sparks, chairman of the Friends of the Park, added: "The last year has been dominated by the commemoration of the final year of the First World War. It is fitting that we now focus on the first year of the peace, just as Ernest Stevens did when he laid down the Peace Garden in Quarry Bank Park.”

Dudley Council has been working with The Friends of Stevens Park and the Emily Jordan Foundation, which enables people with learning disabilities to work with support from the community, to bring the restoration project to reality to preserve the park which was a Victorian farm before it was turned into a recreational space for the community to enjoy.

Further plans, which will be finalised in the coming months, include restoring the park gates, bandstand, footpaths and entrances.

Biodiversity improvements will be made, the park’s heritage will be highlighted to visitors and school and community activities will be organised as part of the project which will also see Tintern House, on Park Road, also known as the Whitehouse building, undergo extensive refurbishment.

A sympathetic extension is proposed to the back to allow space for a community café, where hot and cold drinks and light food will be served; and the Emily Jordan Foundation will use the building for skill and training sessions.