The first stage in a project to bring Bedford River Valley Park to life and showcase the rich heritage of the area is now underway.
Following a grant of £78,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to Bedford Borough Council and the Forest of Marston Vale, new interpretation boards have been unveiled in the park to promote the historical and archaeological significance of the park and make it accessible and interesting to people of all ages.
Six boards have been located at important points in the park including the excavated site of a wealthy Roman farmstead, a poorer farmstead nearby, a site where Neolithic people held ceremonies for their dead, the ‘Varsity’ railway line which closed in 1968, a Mesolithic hunting site, and to explain the history of trading vessels on the River Great Ouse.
Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: “Bedford River Valley Park is a tremendously exciting project for Bedford Borough and it is important that we do all we can to encourage local residents and visitors to visit and learn about its rich history and archaeology.
“The park is opening up a huge area of greenspace for public use and enjoyment over the coming years, and these new interpretation boards will enhance the park even further for visitors of all ages.”
Forest of Marston Vale Chief Executive, Nick Webb, added: “This heritage project shows the power of partnership working, from the initial funding application through to the completion by a number of stakeholders and all coming together under the Bedford River Valley Park banner.
“The Forest Of Marston Vale Trust is delighted to have been involved in helping open up the history of the area for all to enjoy.”
The panels have been installed by the Priory Country Park Rangers working with members of the Community Payback Scheme, and Marston Vale Trust Volunteers.
Work will now begin over the next year on listening posts, a geo-cache trail, an exhibition, and leaflets and guided walks to further bring the history and archaeology of the park to life. An orientation board will be installed at Priory Visitors Centre to help visitors find their way around the different interpretation locations.
For more information visit www.hlf.org.uk.