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Friends aim to return park to past glory

PUBLISHED: 09:51 25 January 2008 | UPDATED: 19:31 05 July 2010

Fen Park in the late 1980s

Fen Park in the late 1980s

BRIGHT yellow flowers, green-green grass, crystal clear water and an exciting adventure playground - it sounds like an idyllic scene for both children and wildlife alike, and that is exactly what a valuable community space in Kirkley looked like in its prime.

BRIGHT yellow flowers, green-green grass, crystal clear water and an exciting adventure playground - it sounds like an idyllic scene for both children and wildlife alike, and that is exactly what a valuable community space in Kirkley looked like in its prime.

Today a group of local residents continue to help return Fen Park towards its glory days and, as they move into the third phase of their transformation plan, we take a look at the history of the park on Southwell Road.

It was created in the early 1900's. At that time there was no park on the south side of the town, while the north side of the bridge boasted two. Southwell Road stopped at the junction with Beaconsfield Road and the trail that led through to Kimberly Road featured two small wooden bridges, and was known as the JU-JU walk.

The land was bought by Mr Powell of the Lion Press, Lorne Park Road, in around the 1920s and 30s, and he developed it into a boating lake and private zoo.

It would prove a very successful venture with the public, and remained a popular place for families until the outbreak of the second world war.

After 1945 its popularity rose again as local people enjoyed fetes and beauty contests at the park, and during the 1950s it would be used by Fen Park Primary and Junior School to hold sports days.

In 1963 the children's play area came under threat as the council discussed the possibility of sighting a pumping station on the area.

The great October storm of 1987 badly damaged the Fen, with a number of trees lost. This would take a long time to clear, but once the work was complete the park was left in an immaculate state, complete with flowers and clear water.

By 1995 maintenance was suffering and a group was formed to help the upkeep of the park. They would concentrate predominantly on pond maintenance for two years before folding.

In 2003 a public meeting was called and over 50 people flocked to hear that lottery money had been allocated for the park. Waveney District Council wanted local people to form a committee to put forward their ideas and suggestions, and it would be through this that Fen Park Friends were born.

During their short lifespan the Friends - together with the help of Waveney District Council, Suffolk County Council, the Big Lottery Fund, Waveney Community Forum, Lowestoft Together, Suffolk Constabulary, Gary Bennett Driving School, SAVO and many local schools and businesses - have helped to create a new children's play area, a Sensory Garden and install new benches, picnic tables, bins and pathways.

The next stage of the group's plan is to revamp the pond and island areas, with the hope of enabling access for anglers, nature lovers and improving the wildlife habitat.

“Fen Park is not just for recreation, but is a valuable green space that is used by people of all ages; and a place for the community to come together,” said Richard Jolley, chairman of the Fen Park Friends.

“It'd be a crying shame if we lose the park and don't go forward with what we're trying to do.”

Anybody willing to become involved or support the group is invited to call 01502 515628.

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