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24 September 2014

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You are in: Somerset > Entertainment and Leisure > Outdoors and Attractions > Attractions > Wellington- the people's park

Wellington Park

The park was given its fifth Green Flag

Wellington- the people's park

Wellington Park has been awarded a Green Flag for the fifth year in a row. We look at what makes the park so special.

Wellington Park

Opened in 1903

4.5 acres (1.82 hectares)

Restoration cost was £412, 827

Contains 48,000 bedding plants

Wellington Park is a small park linking the centre of Wellington to the surrounding countryside.

It is listed Grade II on the English Heritage Register and in 2003 it was awarded a Green Flag for high quality-provision.

The park was a gift from the much respected Quaker Fox family to the town and was described by the Wellington Weekly News in 1903 as "an ideal park for the people".

The family were the town's main employer for many years, providing jobs to over a thousand people in their textile manufacturing, wool and banking companies.

Minutes from a meeting held in 1902 to discuss a permanent recreation ground in Wellington showed the family's intention:  "...what is most wanted is a place in a convenient and pleasant situation, planted and laid out in lawns and flower beds and well supplied with seats...".

Their offer of the park was made on the basis that the park was "under the constant supervision of a resident caretaker and shall not be used as a playground, or as a playing field, for older children and adults." 

The garden was then designed by F.W. Meyer, a renowned German landscape gardener.

He included in his design a rock garden as part of the pond area which included 80 tons of limestone from Westleigh. Cement was not used as the colour of it would not have matched the limestone when it was wet.   

The rock garden in Wellington Park

The rock garden was made from limestone

The floral bedding was designed to compliment and contrast with the rock garden and curving paths. Rhododendrons as well as Berberries, Savin Junipers and Holly Olives were added.

Plane trees were planted along the eastern side of the park in 1908 to replace a line of mature Beech trees which were deemed too large and unsafe.

The park has four entrances, three incorporated in the original layout; the fourth, which provides access close to the bandstand from the recreation field was a later addition.

The caretaker's cottage was built in a similar style to that chosen for the entrances. On the first floor, there was a gracefully curved window that would have allowed the caretaker a comprehensive view of the park.

A commemorative plaque with a plain sundial is situated on the south-facing wall. A drinking fountain at the north end of the Broad Walk was installed near the entrance from Beech Grove and close to the caretaker's cottage.

Although no longer in use due to changes in hygiene regulations, the drinking fountain was an essential amenity in parks and open spaces at the start of the twentieth century.

Wellington's war memorial, a Cornish granite obelisk on a raised plinth, was unveiled in 1921.

Situated close to the shelter, it bears 178 names of those who lost their lives in the First World War, and later, those who lost their lives in the Second World War were added.

Restored beauty

Although much of the park's original design survived throughout the 20th century, it suffered from general deterioration, lack of maintenance and the loss of some of its features, such as the ornamental fountain.

It underwent a transformation at a cost of just over £400,000 and was officially reopened in October 2000.

The original layout of the park was restored and buildings, including the bandstand, were restored and the fountain was re-created.

The tree canopy was thinned and the over-mature shrubberies rejuvenated. Park furniture was improved and gravel path surfaces reinstated. A new concealed water supply was installed in the rock garden, and the planting was restored in accordance with Meyer's plans.

Wellington Park

Over 48,000 plants were planted in the park

The existing toilet block was demolished and a new one constructed to designs based on original park buildings.

The bandstand remains in its original position, close to the western boundary of the park.

As part of the restoration, plants taking in the needs of disabled users were planted. The fronts of flower borders now include scented or tactile plants for the enjoyment of visually impaired visitors.

The original ornamental fountain has been replaced by one of similar design and memorial trees have been planted over the years to mark various events including George V's coronation day.

The park currently attracts various animals and bird including foxes, squirrels, voles and mice.

Birds such as tawny owls, mallard ducks, herons, blue tits, wagtails, rooks and other crows, house sparrows, dunnocks, robins, blackbirds, thrushes, wrens and tree creepers are all regular visitors to the park.

Friends of Wellington Park

In 2001, the Friends of Wellington Park was formed as a result of the park's restoration. 

The aim was "to protect and promote the use of the park for the benefit of the whole community and promote and preserve its historical heritage."

The group organise summer events in the bandstand and look after the general well-being of the area.

Wellington Park opens daily at 8am and closes at dusk.

last updated: 18/07/07

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