History recreated at Pannett park

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RESTORATION of one of the most favoured areas of Pannett Park has been completed.

At a special ceremony on Saturday water lilies were finally replanted in the lily pond recreating what it would have been like in the early 1900s.

The first lily pond in Pannett Park had been dedicated to sea captain Captain Thomas Kirby who lived in Chubb Hill overlooking the park and died during the 1920s before he could pay for the building of the pond like he had intended to.

After his death his wife and four children fulfilled his wishes and covered the £800 building costs.

But the lily pond area of the park fell into disrepair and the nearby shelter was demolished in 1996.

A consultation by Friends of Pannett park asked what feature people would most like to see restored and the lily pond proved the most popular.

Some of his descendants present at Saturday’s event were so delighted with the restored feature, re-opened last June, that they donated £300 to purchase the water lilies.

Captain Kirby had three daughters and a son but none of these had children so he has no direct descendants but the Friends group played host to many other family members.

His great great nephew John Ellis led the Sunderland branch of the family and Doris Miller represented family from York.

Other family members and friends came from Houghton-le-Spring.

Coun Joe Plant, chair of the Friends group, thanked the family for their donation and in turn Mr Ellis spoke of the “joy that the park and lily pool has brought to Kirby’s near descendents”.

The bells of St Mary’s rang out while parks officer Chris Roe and members of the family planted the flowers which have been supplied by specialist nursery, Stapeleys.

Following a tour of the park there was a buffet lunch and slide show of the refurbishment of Pannett Park.