Restoration

For over 150 years the residents of Slough had enjoyed the delights of Herschel Park especially the two lakes and the nature it attracted.  The lakes formed the centre piece for the Upton Park Estate. In 2000 the lakes dried up and the Herschel Park restoration project was born.

The main aim of the Herschel Park Project was to restore the park to its former Victorian splendour and in particular bring back water back to the lakes. The Friends of Herschel Park was formed to assist in making the restoration of the park a reality.  The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded Slough Borough Council a grant of £2.3m to restore the park and to create a plan for its maintenance and management for the next 10 years.

The story of the restoration is told here in words and pictures

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Here are two views of the lakes and pond in the park’s glory days.  The first dates from c.1910 while the second photo shows the park as it was in the 1950s.  Note the large numbers of people using the park as an area of recreation. 

When the lakes finally dried up completely, a thick layer of vegetation, started to cover them.  In some places the vegetation was over 2 metres high and young trees started to grow.

One of the first jobs was to clear the lakes of vegetation this was done with the help of local volunteers and groups from local businesses. An accurate topographical plan of the park was made from which the master plan for the park was created.

A number of trees were removed to restore lost views and vistas across the park especially one to Windsor Castle

In 1962-3 the Slough Corporation purchased a further 10 acres from Eton College which by 1982 had become part of Herschel Park.  This area was allowed to become wild and has recently been designated and managed as the Herschel Park Nature Reserve.  Here is a photo showing part of the nature reserve before restoration.

One of the primary aims of the restoration of Herschel Park was to bring water back to the lakes. In February 2006 a team of specialist engineers from the army drilled a 70 metre borehole to which a pump was attached. This is now connected to a pipeline which directly feeds the lake.  The pictures show the machinery used for drilling the borehole and also the chamber which will house the pump equipment.

All the silt was excavated from the lakes and the basins were reshaped.   A drainage network was installed below the level of the liner to prevent any ground water from lifting the liner and forming “Hippos.”

The lakes were then lined with a ‘Bentomat’ lining. This consists of volcanic clay which has been sealed between two sheets of fabric membrane. 

The lining was then covered with 300mm of sub-soil.

Water is restored to the lakes once more

The 1960’s brick bridge was resurfaced with stone - this was based on an 19th century engraving of the park which shows a stone bridge

A New parapet was added to the bridge

The extant Concrete paths were dug out and replaced and some of the lost original paths around the park were re-established

A network of new paths were established in the nature reserve

A new planting scheme was introduced into the park using varieties which were present during the Victorian period

A number of cast iron Victorian style urns were chosen from an architectural reclamation yard and were shot-blasted and painted before being assembled in the park

The Park Manager’s Kiosk was the only new building to be erected as part of the restoration project.  The building is triangular in shape and is faced in stone to match the bridge.

The Mere’s old motor house and chauffeurs accommodation was restored and converted into the Bentley Education Centre. Before this it had been the National Foundation for Educational Research’s print room and it was where all the SAT exam papers were printed for the whole country.  

The railings and Lamp columns were painted in Antwerp Blue and Green Marl to give the whole of Upton Park its own identity and is found throughout the estate.