Cheshire ’s distinctive Anderton Boat Lift, one of the Britain’s most famous waterway landmarks, has opened its new £50,000 bespoke adventure play area.
MP for Weaver Vale Mike Amesbury and chair of the Rural Growth Board and the West Cheshire and Warrington LEADER Local Action Group Rev David Felix unveiled the specially-designed play area that cleverly integrates elements of the lift in the design.
It will also be the starting point for a new Anderton Nature Park walk in the Northwich area.
The exciting new playground was made possible thanks to a £20,000 grant from the LEADER programme.
As a result of the new playground, the visitor centre will extend its season and the playground will be open every weekend, even out of season.
The Anderton Boat Lift is located next to the delightful Northwich woodland and the play area is also the starting point for a signposted nature trail.
The aim is to encourage children and their families to extend their visit to the area and enjoy the nature that is free and within easy walking distance.
Mr Felix said: “The huge Anderton Boat Lift is an unforgettable and inspiring site for both adults and children.
“I am delighted the new play area captures the spirit of the lift with its narrowboat and boathouse and I am certain will lead to lots of questions and interest from the children who play on it.
“This is going to be a great resource for both local children and visitors and I am sure they are all going to love it with its sliding pole, climbing nets, tunnel nets and a climbing wall.”
Mr Amesbury said: “The Anderton Boat Lift is one of Northwich’s leading industrial heritage sites attracting over 120,000 visitors a year. It is fitting that this pinnacle of high Victorian engineering is doing everything it can to engage and attract young audiences.
“This imaginatively-designed play area with nature trail is going to be a real asset for this special heritage site that really embodies so much of Northwich’s proud heritage.”
General manager of Anderton Boat Lift, Timothy Turner, said: “This summer parents across the region and beyond are asking themselves ‘where can I go with the children that won’t break the bank?’ The Anderton Boat Lift is free to enter and our young visitors can enjoy the hands-on interactive displays (including dressing up), freedom to roam the grassy terraces leading down to the lift and now this fantastic play area with nature trail, all free of charge.
“We also have free activities for children every Tuesday and Thursday, during August. The only cost is for going on the boats and this is entirely optional.
“For those wanting to make the day of it, we have an affordable tree-top coffee shop selling freshly-sourced food and for those with energy to burn off, the beautiful Northwich Woodlands is right on our doorstep with its trails, mere and avenues of trees.”
The play area was created by ‘Flights of Fantasy Creative Play Ltd of Sandringham, Norfolk, and incorporates key elements of the Anderton Boat Lift, such as the lift itself, a bridge, control house and mooring area and cleverly uses blue surfacing to suggest water.
Almost 40% bigger than the existing play area, it is fully accessible and suitable for disabled people as well as being accessible for buggies.
The Anderton Boat Lift is owned by the Canal and River Trust and was restored in 2002 after a £7 million restoration made possible due to a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.