A PUBLIC park is not somewhere you would expect to find an air raid shelter.

But this is just one of a number of interesting features that makes Padiham Memorial Park unique.

The Green Flag park is also home to a leisure centre, an open air stage, a youth shelter, a community orchard growing apples, cherries and plums and an Age UK Day Care Centre.

Other features include a fountain, wildflower meadow and woodland walk.

Money for the park came from Thomas Clayton, who died in 1915, leaving money for the creation of a park.

However, many features were funded by public subscription.

The park opened in 1921 as a memorial to the men and women who died in the First World War.

Bowling greens were added in 1923, tennis courts in 1924 and the bandstand in 1927.

The only public park in Padiham, it comprises two sites linked by a riverside walk by the Calder.

The upper site is mainly ornamental with flowerbeds, memorials and shrubberies, and, until the 1950s a museum and bandstand.

The lower is the base for sports activities.

Carol Stinton is chair of the Friends of Memorial Park, she said: “In my opinion there is no safer place for families. It is traffic-free and very well maintained. A lot of improvements have taken place in the past five years including the planting of a community orchard, and rose beds have been improved.

“The fountain was moved and we also put in a youth shelter for young people. Some fantastic play equipment has been installed.

“We are working to get the visitor centre back running. We have been given £4,000 to improve facilities but are hoping to get more funds in order to flag the area in front of it, which would improve access for disabled people and those with prams. Hopefully it will be running by summer.

“My dream now is to see the air raid shelter turned into Second World War experience, a bit like the Jorvik Viking Centre in York, where people can experience the sights and sounds of being in a shelter.”