Cannon Hall’s lakes transformed to former Georgian glory

Over the last year, Barnsley Museums have worked with contractor, Ebsford Environmental to carefully desilt the parks historical lakes, transforming them back to their Georgian splendour. Alongside the visual improvements, work was undertaken to improve the water quality to encourage more aquatic habitats and increase local biodiversity.

Low impact machinery and in water technology was used to remove the build-up of silt from the watercourse. The project resulted in zero landfill. Over 17300m3 of silt was removed and used to restore the banks, improve the grassland and nourish the soil.

The transformation involved the whole community and over 300 volunteer hours were undertaken. Visitors, local job seekers, community groups and Barnsley Council employees helped to erect fencing and plant the new banks. Volunteers will also help to monitor and maintain the transformed landscape.

Now completed the lakes have seen an improvement in water quality and local biodiversity. They will also play a crucial role in helping to reduce the risk of future flooding.

The water restoration is just part of the wider £3 million renovation Parks for People project, which has been made possible by the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund. During the next two years, key features of the parkland including buildings and pathways will be restored to their former glory.

Visitors to the top Yorkshire attraction will see work being conducted in the grounds at various stages of the project; however, the hall, park and gardens will remain open throughout the work.

The team at Cannon Hall who can regularly be found in the park and gardens welcome any questions about the project and the many volunteering opportunities and events scheduled for the coming months.

Cllr Roy Miller, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place, said: “Visitors are now able to take in the serene beauty of these once forgotten lakes and appreciate the original Georgian vision and vistas which have been brought back to life. We're excited to see the project well and truly underway and hope the incredible transformation will place Cannon Hall Park and Gardens firmly on the tourist map.”

Nick Hartley, Managing Director Ebsford Environmental said: “It has been a pleasure to be involved in the restoration of the Cannon Hall lakes. 

“Over the past few months, Ebsford has reshaped and restored the formerly eroding banks while improving water quality and in turn the habitats for local biodiversity. 20,000 plants and 300 volunteer hours later we are proud to say we have completed this scheme with minimal impact on the environment, visitors and the wider community.

“This is one of the largest and potentially most complex projects Ebsford have ever undertaken locally. I think it is an incredible achievement and congratulations to all those involved in what has been an immensely satisfying process to restore such a treasured attraction.

“We will be monitoring conditions of the lakes over the coming months to assess the benefit of these enhancements on the wildlife. We look forward to watching the plants establish, and the site transform further into the spring.”