Rowntree Park is to be restored to its former glory after York hit the lottery jackpot for the SIXTH time in a year.

The Heritage Lottery Fund announced today it is giving £1.3 million towards a scheme to bring the park back to the splendour of its pre-war heyday.

The £1.7 million project will mean the return of the park's rose garden and pergola, lily pond and fountain, waterfall cascade, herbaceous borders, boating on the lake and tea room/caf.

There will also be a new amphitheatre to replace the old bandstand, suitable for plays and poetry readings as well as band performances, and new access is planned from Butcher Terrace into the "forgotten" far end of the park, where a new car park, toilet block and play area are proposed.

A new park ranger's office and education centre will be opened, existing play areas will be tidied up and fenced off more securely to bar dogs, and the basketball pitch will be moved on to one of the existing tennis courts.

The 23-acre park was developed after the First World War by Joseph Rowntree, in remembrance of factory employees who had been killed.

News of the lottery win has delighted Jean Tattersfield, 69, daughter of the first Rowntree park-keeper James "Parkie" Bell.

She was born at the park lodge and spent a happy childhood in the park, but has witnessed its steady decline over the subsequent years. "It has gone gradually downhill. I'm very pleased it's going to be brought back to its former glory," she said.

But she warned that extra gardeners would be needed to keep up standards in years to come after the work has been completed.

Alison Sinclair, chairwoman of the Friends of Rowntree Park, said: "I think it's wonderful news. We have waited for this for a long time." The park scheme, part funded by the council, will coincide with another adjacent scheme which also won lottery funding recently - more than £2.2 million towards a Millennium Bridge over the River Ouse and the restoration of Terry Avenue as a riverside promenade.

And York has won at least four other major lottery grants in the last year - £2 million to help the National Railway Museum bring the story of railways to life in a new wing, £305,000 to bring the Priory Street Centre back to life as offices for the voluntary sector, more than £250,000 towards a pioneering environmental and educational centre on St Nicholas Field and £2.3 million towards the City Screen art house cinema.

Dave Meigh, of City of York Council leisure services department, said Rowntree Park work was expected to begin towards the end of this year and take about two years. The project would be done in stages, so that the park never had to be closed down completely.

The Heritage Fund gave out 106 grants across the country today totalling £59 million. Another big winner in Yorkshire is Eureka! The Museum for Childhood at Halifax, which receives £2.4 million to buy the former Halifax railway station as part of a major expansion scheme.

See NEWS STORY When 'Parkie' Bell ruled stately Rowntree Park...

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