Corporation Park and Colourfields Panopticon
East Park Road, Blackburn, United Kingdom
Corporation Park and Colourfields Panopticon Blackburn Reviews
Corporation Park and Panopticon Sep 18, 2011
One of the things I love most about Britain is the parks. I know other nations have parks, but I’ve never been anywhere where every town with any pride makes such a good job of them. And if I was going to lay out a park that had all the elements of a British town park, in all its inclusivity and eccentricity, it would be a lot like the one in Blackburn. It would have a large group of boys arguing bitterly about whether or not their football had been in the goal (made of two piles of coats) or over the bar. There would be play equipment hidden in the woods, and a more traditional play park for younger children. Old growth trees, maybe a hundred years old, and slightly wild flower beds. Bowling greens, inexplicably popular, and a lake with some over fed ducks. Reasonably priced tennis courts. A formal rose garden. Blackburn also has (missing from my mental blueprint, but still ace) an aviary and a badly decayed but evidently still in use palm house.
It is also home to one of the Lancashire Panopticons, which are large scale sculptures with good views. In fact, having visited three of the four, it is both the least impressive artistically and my favourite. Basically, it is a fence around the fake gun turrets made for some captured cannons. The cannons were captured in the 19th century, and melted for scrap in world war two, leaving the empty turrets. The artist built a fence and a viewing platform, and made it brightly coloured. Despite this happening about 5 years ago, the colour is already fading. But the view is wonderful. Getting up there is interesting – I found a small plaque telling me that some ripples on a nearby rock were from a prehistoric river – and takes you through lovely wooded areas, past some play equipment, and through banks of hydrangea flowers. And the view from the top was great. I am sure it is even better if you know Blackburn, in a sort of “I can see my house” way.
I am sure that very few people on this website will make the extra journey to any of the Panopticons from Manchester, between football matches and shopping trips. But if you do, and you want to see a fantastic example of two British tendencies at once (great municipal parks, and slightly pointless but nevertheless endearing public art), this is a lovely place for an hour’s exploration. Entrance is free, I think there is a small charge for the badly vandalised but still in use palm house, parking is free on the streets up the sides of the park. Access would be fine with a push chair but might be tricky with a wheelchair. Watch out for flying footballs!
Part of the 2011 - UK Hometowns travel blog
Part of the list Manchester and the North West
Part of the list Free Things in the UK
Part of the list Leave London!
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