We're probably best known for the enhancements we've made around Penrith - from planters to seating areas. But we've also run events that add to Penrith's social calendar for local people and visitors alike, helping to boost our area's economy.
Here's a look back at some of our achievements in recent years...
Greeening of Penrith
Bringing more 'green' to Penrith and improving the general appearance of the town has always come out as a high priority for the local community during consultations over the past decade. We've focused a lot on this priority in recent years, helping Penrith win two Cumbria in Bloom awards in September 2012.
We worked with environmental group Penrith Action for Community Transition to provide planters containing flowers & trees around town. PACT liaised with the county council to get a license and together we worked with local traders to decide on locations. Many were sponsored by local businesses and organisations.
St Andrew's Churchyard
The square around St Andrew's Church is one of the green spaces in the heart of Penrith - a tranquil spot where people enjoy taking a few minutes to sit down, take in their surroundings or enjoy a sandwich. Following on from our other Greening of Penrith work, we set out on a project to improve the churchyard.
PACT initially raised around £25,000 to upgrade St Andrew’s Square and its surroundings, including almost £10,000 from the Big Lottery Fund Awards for All programme, and £10,000 from Vitality of Penrith, which preceded Penrith Partnership, and we subsequently committed extra funds of our own.
The owners of the Devonshire Arcade contributed £1,000 and also gave permission to make use of the Old Grammar School yard outside the library, where Devonshire Arcade opens onto the square. The Pride in Penrith Lottery gave £2,000, with a further £1,000 from the Neighbourhood Forum, along with a variety of other sources.
Thanks to this funding, work began in autumn 2012 on a first phase of improvements. The path that runs through the churchyard from the antique shop to the Parish Rooms was widened and relaid, allowing visitors to stroll along two abreast, or pass each other without having to go onto the grass.
Visitors can now also find out a bit more about the square itself, thanks to a new information sign in the Old Grammar School yard outside Penrith Library. The sign, which is in the same design as Eden District Council’s other panels throughout the town, celebrates the heritage of the area, picking out the many points of interest in and around the churchyard.
The second phase of work began in summer 2013. We installed seating, tables and a waste bin in the Old Grammar School yard, so that people can linger for a while and enjoy the area. We created a woodland garden, upgrading all the flowerbeds in the churchyard, with pathways through them for visitors to enjoy. We also opened up the flower beds running from Mansion House to the Parish Rooms, which struggled with a bit too much shade from the nearby trees.
In 2015 and 2016 we focused on lighting around the square and the Giant's Grave.
Is there a giant buried in St Andrew's Churchyard? The Giant's Grave is the name given to the ancient hogback tombstones near the church. But who’s really buried there and what do the stones mean? To shed light on their origin, we installed an information board in 2016.
Let there be light
We have upgraded the street lighting around St Andrew's Churchyard, installing energy-efficient LED lighting that will be less expensive to run. We have also painted and updated the lamp posts thus shedding light on a few dark spots around the churchyard.
Eden Food & Farming Festival
The festival grew from the Penrith on a Plate weekend originally served up by Eden District Council in 2012. The following year, the council invited Penrith Partnership to take over the event, with funding and hands-on support from the council.
For 2103, we forged new links with Penrith Show Committee, and expanded the event into a week-long festival. It started with Penrith on a Plate and ended with Penrith Show, with a programme of free events in between. The events gave people a chance to learn more about our local food and farming industries, with talks, demonstrations and visits to local producers and farms.
The concept worked well, and the following year we added even more events into the programme, with an extra helping of stalls and entertainment at Penrith on a Plate.
A range of organisations have supported us through funding and practical support, without which we couldn't have continued to run the festival and develop it. Some of those who have funded us in the past include: Eden District Council, Penrith Business Improvement District (BID), Pride in Penrith Lottery and Cumbria County Council. Local businesses and organisations have helped in various ways, from running festival events through to advertising in the festival programme.
Halloween Fun Day
In 2013, Penrith Partnership was approached by Eden District Council to run and promote this annual event, featuring stalls and entertainment in the town centre. We linked in with local schools and nurseries to run a ghost trail and pumpkin carving competition, in association with The Cooperative Group. Local businesses were generous in offering prizes for the fancy dress contest.
We handed over the reins to Blue Jam, who ran 2014's successful event.
Eden Food & Farming Festival
We organised this week-long festival (16-23 July 2016), celebrating Eden’s food and farming sectors. With more than a dozen (mostly free) events, it attracts tourists, boosts the economy and adds to the social calendar for local people. Visit the festival website to find out more.
One of the most characterful streets in Penrith, Little Dockray had looked worse for wear, with patched-up tarmac street.
We relaid the cobbles around the benches and installed new planters, making it a space people enjoying strolling through or lingering over a coffee.
The alleyway from the centre of Devonshire Street to Little Dockray has long been a grot spot in the centre of Penrith. With help from EDC, the BID and the Penrith Lottery we have repaired and repainted the alley way, installed pigeon deterrents and a new gate to the small yard that runs off this alley and installed sensor-activated lighting. These improvements now make the alley a more welcoming link between these two main streets in the heart of the town.
Saving the paving
The paving around the Tourist Information Centre was relaid, as the surface had become uneven and was looking a bit unloved.
This is an area that visitors to the town generally come to, with the Penrith and Eden Museum next door, and we want to help create a good first impression.
The area at the bottom of Sandgate was reconfigured. A new bench was purchased and installed, the waste bin repositioned and the paving relaid. Eden District council also agreed to repave the area on the opposite side of the road replacing the worn tarmac with new pavers.