Hampshire country park to get £600,000 makeover with expanded cafe and refurbishment

HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds are to be spent on revamping a Hampshire country park.

Monday, 18th November 2019, 11:00 am
The chapel at Royal Victoria Country Park in Netley Abbey Picture: Sarah Standing (1416-7229)

An extra £600,000 will be spent on expanding the cafe at Royal Victoria Country Park in Netley as well as refurbishing the Grade II-listed Empire Rooms and toilets.

The news comes as last year the Victorian-era chapel at the park underwent a major makeover as part of a £2.68m Lottery project.

The new money will come from Hampshire County Council.

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In a statement a spokesperson for the authority said: ‘This additional funding will enable refurbishment of the Grade II listed Empire Rooms. The work will also include expansion of the café and refurbishment of the toilets within the Empire Rooms and externally. A changing places toilet will also be installed. Investment in the county council’s country parks is part of a long-term transformation programme designed to increase income and ensure country parks remain sustainable.’

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The funds were approved by the executive member for policy and resources at a meeting held in Winchester on Thursday.

It comes as the revamped chapel reopened to the public last year.

As previously reported, as part of the makeover new displays highlighting the site’s history have been  located throughout the park, including some to mark the four corners of the former hospital.

 These  aim to show the scale of the once vast building and to mark the railway station which brought thousands of wounded soldiers to the hospital during the First World War.

The damaged hand-painted glass windows have also been  replaced and a new lift has been installed at the site to improve public access.

The chapel is the last remaining part of the Royal Victoria Military Hospital.

Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of the military hospital on May 19, 1856 and it was finally opened in April, 1863.

However in 1963 a fire destroyed part of the central block and the main building was demolished in 1966, leaving just the chapel and a few outbuildings.

By Maria Zaccaro

Local Democracy Reporter