Historic carriages used by Gunnersbury Park's former owners the Rothschilds could get a new home as part of the site's £4.7 million regeneration, it has emerged.
Horse-drawn carriages used by members of the banking dynasty, who sold the grounds in the 1920s, are part of the park's extensive transport collection, which also includes penny farthing bicycles and the last hansom cab ever to serve Ealing Broadway.
The collection is currently housed in one of the grand rooms inside the Large Mansion, which is home to Gunnersbury Museum.
But plans to transform the park using £4.7m of Lottery funding, announced yesterday, include proposals for an extension to the new cafe which would accommodate the classic vehicles.
James Wisdom, chairman of the Friends of Gunnersbury Park & Museum, said the extension, which was a late addition to Ealing and Hounslow councils' joint funding bid, would be an improvement on the collection's current 'incongruous' setting.
Mr Wisdom described yesterday's funding announcement as the 'best news' about the park since 1981, when the friends group was formed to fight proposals to turn the stables into offices.
"We welcome this massive step forward. If the museum application is successful, we will have a secure foundation for the future. We will then be able to turn our attentions to the Small Mansion, the Stables, the development of sporting facilities and the long term management and financing of this fantastic public estate," he added.
The Heritage Lottery Fund grant will also pay for the reintroduction of boating on the Round Pond and the restoration of the Orangery, among other improvements. Work is expected to begin next spring and should be completed by the end of 2018.
Ealing and Hounslow councils, which jointly manage the parks, are still waiting to hear whether a separate £4.1m bid for HLF funding to restore the park's Large Mansion has been successful.
Should that prove successful, the next step is ensuring the future of the Stables and Small Mansions, which are already being restored.
Mr Wisdom said finding a suitable tenant to lease those buildings may be the best way to fund their long-term preservation.
News about the Lottery funding, and especially the return of boating, have sparked memories from several readers on Facebook.
Karen Sanders commented 'so many childhood memories from this park, great news!', while Angela Williams wrote 'my nan used to take my sister and I to this park in the 1980's! We loved the boating lake. I think the boats were peddle boats!'
Mr Wisdom said: "The classic image of Gunnersbury is of a grandparent on the pond with their grandchildren or of couples in the boats, and it will be good to see the boats back."
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