People visiting Christchurch Park will have seen the many changes/improvements over the past months, but some problems remain. Regarding the new Reg Driver Education Centre, a receptionist is shortly being employed to enable this building to be open on seven days a week, closing at 7 pm from April to the end of August, 6 pm throughout September and 4 pm during the winter months. This will add to the security and the provision of information about the park. Various organisations are being considered for a three year contract to open the kiosk in the Pavilion in the Lower Arboretum and a decision on this will be made by the end of this year. Meanwhile, the unisex toilet is open daily, as is the disabled persons' toilet which needs a radar key to be used; alarms are fitted in both rooms in case of emergency.
The area around the former tennis court adjacent to the Pavilion, now converted to an all-purpose games facility for young people, is to be turfed in the autumn, and a design for the overgrown land to the north of the Wilderness Pond is being drawn up by students at Otley College. The plans will include the Rockery and will provide more benches around this site.
The subject of litter bins always raises its head! At present, there is an experimental recycling blue and black bin by the Mansion tea room, the success of which will be evaluated in the autumn. New recycling bins are planned for use throughout the park, hopefully being timber-clad with metal tops giving information on what goes where, and these will be positioned over a period of time. Two extra members of park staff are being employed this summer to clear rubbish, and the effect is noticeable - a much cleaner and tidier landscape! The Brett and Burton drinking fountains are both working and are regularly maintained.
Everyone seems pleased with the restoration of the raised bed of floral motifs by the Henley Road entrance. In all, the improvements, care and maintenance provided by the Lottery money has made this park a peaceful, clean and beautiful place - and strolling along paths amongst the uncut grasses that shimmer in the sunshine is one of life's pleasures!
On the subject of fountains, there is much enthusiasm for restoring the granite drinking fountain in Alexandra Park for which the group of Friends of the latter are hoping to raise money from various organisations. The Ipswich Society has offered possible financial help in this enterprise, as the fountain is of considerable historical interest. Alexandra Park was created in 1903 when Ipswich Corporation bought some land from the Hill House estate, home of the Byles family, and the drinking fountain was erected in 1905 by Charles Henry Cowell (a prominent member and one time Mayor of the town) in memory of his mother, Marianne Byles, who was born at the Hill House in 1801. This sturdy fountain is now in a state of disrepair with no running water available and three of its four turrets missing.
Alexandra Park has long been a popular place for nearby residents and students of the College - indeed, when the land was purchased in 1903 a newspaper article describes the park as 'a breathing space .... wildly rushed by the children, rolling and running down the slope in the simple delight of motion ..' With the redevelopment of the College and the Waterfront and the building of the new University, Alexandra Park is a most valuable green lung in the town. It has the further attraction of some woodland containing mature elms (for the restoration of which a separate group of Friends is already raising money) and an excellent and well-attended playground for young and older children. A source of clean drinking water would seem to be essential in this most attractive park.
News in brief about other parks:
Holywells Park is awaiting approval of its Stage 1 application bid for an HLF grant of 2 million which is due to be assessed this September. On Saturday, 19 October the Friends of Holywells are holding their successful and well-established Apple Day from 11 am to 2 pm.
Play Areas: There are a number of play area improvement schemes being planned for the next few months, the main ones being those in Chantry Park, Bourne Park and Sallows Close off Bramford Road.
During October there are local Fungi Forays and on Saturday, 22 November there is a Winter Wetland Cruise on the 'Orwell Lady' to see waders along the estuary. For full details of events, please contact the Park Rangers on 01473 433994.