With the help of almost £3 million from the government as part of its levelling-up agenda, Mansfield District Council has ambitious plans to turn the rundown park into an exciting place to visit for family days out.
Improvement work is already under way, and pencilled into the diary for Sunday, June 26 is a show hosted by the Little John Classic Car and Motorcycle Club, based in Ravenshead.
The free, all-day show (10 am to 4 pm) will not only feature up to 150 historic and iconic vehicles but also a range of entertainment, stalls, music, food and refreshments for all the family, plus an athletics meeting staged by the Mansfield Harriers club.
Appeal for help after man attacked with champagne bottle outside Eastwood pub
Man who doused victims with petrol in Mansfield locked up
Children enjoy free fishing sessions at Mansfield fishery
Man, 41, arrested after police officer is headbutted in Mansfield
Man suffers broken leg after being hit by car in crash near Nuthall
“It could be quite a day,” says Pete Draycott, a member of the club and the chief organiser.
"It’s the first show the club has ever hosted, so it is a bit of an unknown quantity. But we are expecting a minimum of 600 to 700 people attending.
"The idea is that it will be a family event and not just about the cars. We hope the show can become part of the new vision that the council has for Berry Hill Park.
"The aim is to develop it into an annual show with really diverse content.”
The show is the brainchild of Pete, 74, who lives close to the park and is a retired engineer. He worked for British Coal before running his own business, a consultancy that advised on design, installation and maintenance.
He himself owns three classic sports cars – a 1960 MGA, a 1997 MGF and an MGv8 that dates back to 2004. And he is one of about 200 paid-up members of the Little John club that was formed in 2013 at the Ravenshead pub of the same name.
A friendly organisation, it is run by founder Ian ‘Clippo’ Clipson and his wife Sue. It holds weekly meetings every Wednesday evening at Sandy’s Bar at Mansfield Town Football Club, and boasts more than 1,000 subscribers to its Facebook page.
According to the DVLA, the definition of a classic car is one that is at least 40 years old, while the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs says they must be at least 30 years old.
Either way, there are estimated to be more than 1.5 million such vehicles across the UK, and more than 685,000 owners.
With an average age of 63, those owners spend an average of £4,223 per year on their cars. And the entire historic vehicles industry is said to be worth a staggering £7.2 billion per year to the economy.
"Our members own a whole range of classic cars, ranging from unusual-one-offs, such as a Messerschmitt bubble car, to the more common Ford Escorts and Ford Anglias,” says Pete. "The majority are from the 70s, 80s and 90s.
"For the show, we are limited to 150 spaces, which are open to all comers, cost £3 per vehicle and must be pre-paid.
"We would like a really eclectic mix, and we have already received a lot of interest, including from the owner of a 1930s Rolls-Royce.”
Pete and fellow Little John members felt it would be a good idea to organise a show after attending others up and down the country before the coronavirus pandemic struck.
“Classic car shows are good social events, where like-minded people meet up and discuss their vehicles,” he says.
"But there is very little local to Mansfield, and some owners don’t like travelling too far with their cars.
"Also, this country has a long-standing transport heritage. Transport is the backbone of the economy, and people should be aware of its history.”
Pete and fellow members have won many awards for their cars at other shows. But keen to distance itself from the competitive element, the club says there will be no trophies on offer at the Berry Hill event. Instead it is toying with an idea to let youngsters pick their favourites.
The Little John club prides itself on raising money for charity. Over the years, it has helped people with dementia and breast cancer, as well as the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance. So it is delighted that most of the costs associated with the June show are already covered.
The Mayor of Mansfield, Andy Abrahams, has agreed to donate £500 from The Mayor’s 500 Fund, while two Mansfield South county councillors, Stephen Garner and Andrew Camilleri, are handing over £250 each from their divisional funds for local projects.
Meanwhile, volunteers from the Notts 4X4 Response charity, who help the police, paramedics and doctors with emergencies in bad winter weather, have offered their services as marshals and with security, first aid and lost property.
The Annesley-based Acacia Radio has promised to oversee the music at the show, as well as organise fun and games, such as tug-of-war for the kids.
And Pete’s own son, singer and guitarist Danny Draycott, who lives in Kirkby, is one of the artistes lined up to perform on the day.
"Everything is going fairly well, “says Pete. “All we are looking for now are a few more stalls on site.
"The Academy Transformation Trust, which runs Sutton Community Academy and the Dukeries Academy, will be having a stall.
"But we’d like some more, maybe a cake stall, a sweet stall or hook-a-duck.
"The show is being run in conjunction with the nationwide Triumph Sports Mix Club and the Mansfield-based Robin Hood Mini Club.
"But help or offers from any quarter will be gratefully received.”
If you would like to set up a stall, or even enter a classic car, at the show, feel free to call Pete on 07507 682205.