History: 1970 to the present day.
In the 1970s three main campaigns, initiated by the people who used the park, had a huge impact in transforming the Park into what it is today: The Spa was saved from demolition and turned into a Nursery School; a dog-free area was created in the park after much lobbying and a campaign that led people to flag every dog mess in the park; a group of parents organized and built a sandpit.
Devastating effect of the Great Storm
The Park had begun to regain some of its former glory but the night of 16th October 1987 had a devastating effect on it. High winds swept across southern England causing huge damage and destruction. Over one hundred trees were lost in the Park with the winds literally ripping out some of its most beautiful areas.
The Friends of Queen’s Park
One positive element to come out of the storm was that it heightened people’s awareness of how important places like Queen’s Park are in their lives. In 1988 The Friends of Queen’s Park was formed as a direct result of this feeling. The group worked hard to help restore the Park by lobbying for improvements as well as doing jobs around the Park such as cleaning up the Lake. On 15th August 1992 The Friends organized a very successful Victorian Picnic to commemorate the centenary of the Park being given to the public.
Council refurbishment in the 1990s
During the 1990s the Park continued to flourish with the Council spending £100,000 on repairing the leaking lake and creating a new rock garden and waterfall and another £100,000 on refurbishing the play facilities, some of which were over fifty years old.
The Evening Argus reports that in 1993 some parents held a ‘Use your Public Park’ evening to protest against a series of mindless attacks on young children. On the evening a gang of twenty rowdy youths invaded the park and spoilt the evening but nothing is further reported after that incident.
A scented garden
With The Friend’s instigation again, a new scented garden, containing over a thousand scented shrubs, was added in 1995 for elderly, disabled and partially sighted people. The Friends also helped establish a ‘Butterfly Bank’ to further encourage wildlife and they commissioned five special benches to commemorate the trees lost in the Storm.
An organic herb garden
An organic herb garden was created in the wildlife area in 2000 to raise awareness of medicinal plants and regular educational workshops and talks go on there now. The following year a long sculptured bench was added to encourage picnickers to the area.
Going forward in the 21st century
As the Park starts the 21st century, the biggest problems appear to be the attacks on people by seagulls who are after food and a lack of toilet facilities to accommodate all the users of the Park.
Away from the bustle of city life
Today there are still the odd incidents of vandalism and noisome teenagers late at night but on the whole the Park is felt to be a happy, safe, vibrant place. It easily accommodates the children, the teenagers, the dog walkers, the footballers, the bowlers, the tennis players, the actors, the people practicing Tai Chi, the gardeners, the bird feeders and those people who use the park to just sit and watch the world go by. It is truly a ‘pleasure garden’ away from the bustle of city life.
The Friends of Queen’s Park were extremely helpful in providing information for this article.