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Welcome to Alexandra Park 

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The Friends of Alexandra Park work to promote and protect Alexandra Park - the
grounds around Alexandra Palace in North London.


Alexandr
a Park was originally designed by Alexander McKenzie, in 1863, as a park and pleasure ground. 


The 196 acres of park now consists of a delightful mixture of informal woodland, open grassland, formal gardens and attractions such as the boating lake, cafes and the pitch-and-putt course.


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  • The Friends programme for 2017 includes walks and talks about trees, bats, fungi, moths, insects, birds and the history of Alexandra Park. Also, opportunities to join our work parties in the park.



New events


London Metropolitan Brass Training Band in The Grove

Sunday, 2nd July, 2pm to 3:30pm

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Back again by popular demand....

The London Metropolitan Brass Training Band will be playing in The Grove. Their website here.

Bring a chair, sit on the grass, or just promenade with your ice cream!

Some pictures from last year....

*Weather permitting, of course.


July Members Walk


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Tuesday, 11th July

This walk will discover the lost parts of the Park and what has become of them. Details (time and meeting place) soon to be finalised.








Palace Band playing in The Grove


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Sunday, 16th July, 2pm to 3:30pm

Our third band of the year coming to play for you in The Grove. The Palace Band is a large wind ensemble taking its name from Alexandra Palace.

Come and relax on the grass and/or buy an ice cream from The Grove Cafe while you listen the Free Music. What's not to like?




Conservation Work Party

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Tuesday, 18th July, 10am to 12:30pm


Hope to see more butterflies this month. The small moth-like skippers should be around....

Do join us if you are free. No special skills required; we will be cutting back and uprooting the remaining brambles in the meadow. Enjoy exercise, plenty of fresh air and good conversation. Bring gardening gloves and secateurs if you have them, but if not we have spares to loan.

We usually work from 10 am to 12.30 pm, but come for as long as you want. Meet at the Butterfly Meadow, if you know it, or at the finger post where the path from North View Road meets the (newly surfaced) Lower Road.



Other Events happening around the Park

Red Bull Soapbox Derby

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Sunday 9th July


Returning for the third time, the Red Bull Soapbox Derby running down the hill, avoiding obstacles (sometimes) in beautiful, odd, elegant and/or strange vehicles. SOLD OUT

Please note that Alexandra Palace Way will be closed all traffic from Noon on 7th July until 5am on 10th July. W3 on diversion.




BP Big Screens "Turendot"


http://www.roh.org.uk/about/bp-big-screens/alexandra-palace
Friday 14th July from 7pm



Relax on the South Slope below the Palace and listen to the Royal Opera’s spectacular staging of Puccini’s final masterpiece. You will be transported to ancient China. This dark exotic fantasy has it all, including wonderful music such as the great tenor aria ‘Nessun dorma’.

Tickets available from the Alexandra Palace Website.


Summer Festival


Saturday 22nd July from 11am

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A summer celebration in the Park

Park and Palace are throwing open the gates for a fun-packed day of activities and events. Entry to the Park is free, although some activities will require tickets. You can find out more here. So come along and enjoy the Park at its best! Activities will include:

· Giant water slide.

· Street food and craft beer festival.

· Outdoor cinema.

· Live music.

· And of course, we will have a stall with a competition and stuff for kids......


Details of many of our previous events can be found here


These are the most recent events:


Barnet Band in The Grove



This popular local band entertained us again in The Grove on a blisteringly hot day in June. Great to have them back.


More about the Barnet Band here.







Stall at the Palace Gates Fete

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The Friends of Alexandra Park had a stall at this well-attended Annual Event. We welcomed several new members and engaged with many locals on ongoing and future Park and Palace issues.

For the kids, we had colouring and gave away stickers (always popular). The Fete included Music, Games, Cakes, Plants and Sangria....

More pictures from the Fete.



June Conservation Work Party

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A hot, hot day for the volunteers in the Butterfly Meadow. We sulked a bit around the edges trying to find some shade, but this didn't stop us from removing a large amount of bramble as well as some invasive tree saplings.

There was a good count of wild flowers in flower including knapweed, birds foot trefoil and red and white clover. Also we spotted an Alder Buckthorn tree which is a great find as it is the food plant for the Brimstone butterfly. 

On the subject of butterflies; Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Large Skipper and a White of some sort were seen during our work.

On the bird front Chiffchaff, Wren and Blackcap were still singing and a Kestrel hovered briefly over us.

June Members Walk: View from the Terrace

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This is our shortest walk.... in 1 hour we manage to get from the BBC Tower all the way to the Palm Court.

This time we had a look at a couple of sites that have lost Gasholders and a few more new developments as well pointing out the landmarks from the terrace trying to keep pace with the buildings as they were lit up by the sun.....




Beginners Tree Walk 2017

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Over twenty people assembled for our annual Beginners Tree Walk led by Robyn. We were boosted by quite a few people who were attending as part of London Tree Week.

Meeting at the BBC Tower, we were taken down onto the South Slope to identify some of the more common (mostly) native species of trees.

We are pictured admiring a Common Lime. Other trees featured included Weeping Willow, Sycamore, London Plane, Hornbeam and Beech.

Identification clues were given included leaf shape, bark and how the shoots come off the branches.



History Walk

Members met on the last day of May - a beautiful dry summer’s evening – to be led on a History Walk, featuring music and sport in Alexandra Palace and Park. The walk was meticulously researched as always, and illustrated with photos, by Stuart Little our local historian, ably assisted by Linda.
 
We learnt of the many concerts held in the Great Hall, including three performances of The Messiah in the 1970s to raise money for the organ refurbishment.  We saw pictures of a concert hall which later became an ice-skating rink, before the BBC took over this part of the palace. Outdoor music took place mainly in The Grove area.
 
We were led to various outdoor areas where sport took place, and shown photographs of open-air boxing, the switchback rides (on wooden horses), the cricket and football greens, sitting quoits (!), archery and penny-farthing bicycles and very early tricycles.  We also went to the current playground area and were shown a picture of tennis players on a court with the Alexandra Park Station ticket office (now Cufos) in the background.
 
Finally, we turned our attention to horse racing, the sport for which many people knew Alexandra Park and which took place for just over 100 years.  Stuart showed us more intriguing pictures of the grandstand, horse racing, and trotting.


Family Activities Day

It was hugely busy (47 adults, 35 children), and, judging by the comments,much appreciated and enjoyed by all, from the youngest collector of feathers
to the parents who said they were glad to find materials to stimulate their
children's interest in the natural environment. They went away, too, with
crosswords and colouring sheets, as well as the little prizes which went down well.

... and outside with the pair doing the Xplorer Challenge.

We sat outside in a light rain much of the time! However the important thing was it didn't dampen the spirits of the young people who were keen to rush off round the Grove with their map, on the hunt for the picture cards; some of them showing amazing persistence to
find every last one.


May Conservation Work Party


It was a mixed sort of morning: hot when the sun was out and quite chilly when not.
Everything is growing apace in the Butterfly Meadow and bramble control feels somewhat daunting right now, but we only have to look back to a couple of years ago to remind ourselves how much we have achieved so far. Mark Evison, the Park Manager, dropped by and commended us on our efforts.

Flowers: red clover, mouse ear, common sorrel, sheep’s sorrel, creeping buttercup, bird’s foot trefoil, wood avens (herb bennet), knapweed, hawksbeard (possibly, beaked), creeping potentilla, dandelion.

Insects: orange tip butterfly; caterpillar of a narrow-bordered 5-spot burnet moth (pictured). (No yellow field ants this time.)

Our next Work Party will be on Wednesday, 14th June.


AGM plus Archives of Alexandra Palace and Park Update


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At the Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Alexandra Park. Kirsten Forrest and James White from the Palace team showed a selection of some of the fascinating images that emerged from the Park and Palace archives found during the restoration work in the Palace. These included pictures of the old Pavilion Tea Rooms in The Grove, the old Boat House and pictures from inside the Palace.

The first part of the archives has been uploaded to Google Arts and Culture and can be found here.

They also asked if any of the Friends of Park were interested in doing research into Gardening in the Park......

 
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In addition Mark Evison, the Park Manager, gave us an update on the park and illustrated some of his work (dealing with licencees, coping with the litter, tree vulnerabilities and management). New positive achievements included large numbers of awards for the Park (Green Flag, London in Bloom etc.) and the new surface to the Lower Road. 

The Friends’ chairman, Gordon Hutchinson, gave a report (read it here) on the activities of the members and a plea for additional help to do yet more.

Concern was raised over the Wood Green Area Action Plan and how it could affect the Park.

The Committee was re-elected, but if you wish to join us you will be very welcome. allyparkn10@gmail.com


Members Walk May 2017

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What If...there was serious money to make some improvements in the park? This was the subject for the May Members Walk.

Should the Park be more like a Theme Park or more like Hampstead Heath?

We discussed the possibilities of a big new playground like the one in Victoria Park? A mountain bike track? Toilets in the park? More paved paths, perhaps with lighting? An urban farm?*

There is no money at present for new developments in the Park, but in the future with a real possibility of another bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund later this year. What should be the priorities?

Toilets on a larger cafe in the Grove was suggested and had majority support. More hard surfaces? Some people want to see a lot more, some none. Most seemed to like the idea of a proper hard surface between North View Road and the Lower Path.

It was also mentioned that no further Circuses are taking place at the Fairground Car Park.

The effect on the Park of an increase in income-generating activities was discussed and they should be progressed.

The free re-broadcast of the Royal Opera House's production of Turendot on the South Slope was another point of interest. Tickets.


*None of these are proposals - just a few ideas which have been floated at various times.

Spring Bird Walk and Ringing Display May 2017

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Our gallant Bird Walk leader was on the injury list, but still managed to lead us around - many thanks, Gareth.

We met up in The Grove as usual and went off in search of something special....

There we saw quite a few Stock Doves which although being quite common are often overlooked - they are the size of a Feral Pigeon with dark eyes. (picture taken on another occasion)




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Walking across Alexandra Palace Way up on the Palace was one of our big highlights of the walk, a Peregrine on the South Western Tower. (pictured) We later saw a Peregrine flying around the BBC mast which was probably the same bird.

At the Ringing Point, Gerry was quite excited about catching a common bird. Two male sparrows had been caught in the mist net and we saw one of them being ringed. Sparrows are a common, but have been a big long term decline and have up until a few years ago been limited to the Southern edge of the Park. They are now starting to reconquer territory.

After the ringing session we walked around to the Wood Green Reservoir filter beds where we were pleased to see a juvenile Grey Wagtail.





Spring Fungi Walk

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After a month of dry weather, hopes for our Fungi Walk were not that high.....

We scouted around and found quite a few bracket fungi and some fungi looking a little the worse for wear including Sulphur Tuft in a couple of places.

A Deer Shield fungus was spotted in The Grove although it had been partially eaten.

However, in an out of the way place, we did a see a Dryad's Saddle otherwise known as a Peacock's Tail (pictured). 

Passing by a Lichen, Mario identified it for us.

We also came across the traces of a Fairy Ring (us pictured standing around it - look out for the fungi later. 

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We moved out of The Grove passing by some Boot Laces (Honey Fungus) before finding some more smaller fungi towards the Paddock Car Park and Redston Field.

So in spite of the dry weather, we did manage rack a small list of fungi seen. Looking forward to finding more in the Autumn.








Members Spring Tree Walk 2017

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People arrived early for our Spring Tree Walk, but were not allowed to relax! There was a table full of leaves to identify. Some easy - Horsechestnut, Holly, Oak... some harder Rowan, Field Maple, Sycamore and some quite fiendish young London Plane tree, Amur Maple, Manna Ash.

April was a good month for a Spring Tree Walk with the Horse chestnuts putting on a great show with their white candelabras. It was pointed out that the flowers start off with a yellow centre before changing via orange to a red colour when fertilised.

We looked at a colourful gall on English Elm in The Grove (might be first British sighting).


The walk meandered around The Grove passing by a Norway Maple cultivar with a beautiful contrast between its red leaves and yellow flowers (pictured).

The walk finished in Western Arboretum with a look at some different Ash Trees, the Dawn Redwoods, Hornbeam, Cappodacian Maple seedlings and terminating with the favourite Cork Oak below the Palm Court.


April Conservation Work Party

More sunshine for the volunteers in April. Bramble is regrowing strongly at this time of year, but we are making progress pushing it back.

During the work we saw some of the Yellow Meadow Ants which produce the anthills in the Butterfly Meadow - sorry no good picture.

Also there were some Oak Apples (a type of gall produced by a wasp) found on a Oak Tree in the area - impressive (pictured).

Next workparty date: Thursday, 18th May

Spring Bat Walk

Good news! After noticing a reduction in the number of bats seen over the last few bat walks, it is a pleasure to report that this time they were out in their droves.

Our usual good crowd of about 25 people listened to Gordon's talk on our only flying mammals before jumping at the opportunity to use the "Bat Detectors".

Gordon was helped out on this occasion by Theo who is giving us some of his time to help towards his Duke of Edinburgh Award.

The enthusiastic participants were entranced with the Pipestrelles flitting around their heads.

Back next Autumn....


Talk: Introduction to Bats

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Lisa Worledge of the Bat Conservation Trust gave us an entertaining talk on Bats covering many aspects of their psychology with examples of the thousands of bat species around the world.

She then concentrated on our own native species with lots information on the species that we are most likely to encounter including the pipestrelles. She encouraged the audience to make bat noises......

The small size of our bats (easily fitting in palm of a hand) when compared to the 2 metre wingspan of the largest bats in the world is quite an eye opener.

For anyone who want to pursue bats further, please join The London Bat Group only £7.50 at www.londonbats.org.uk


March Members Walk

On the hunt for wild flowers by the Bedford Road entrance.... Too late for crocuses and snowdrops (still to be seen in The Grove).

What did we see then? Lesser Celandine coming to its peak. Colts Foot, Shepherds Purse and a great favourite the Primrose. To add to flowers on flowers, we also saw flowers on trees Ash Tree, Wych Elm and male and female Goat Willow flowers.

Photo shows people studying the white Sweet Violet flowers.


March Conservation Work Party

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A dozen enthusiastic volunteers gathered in the Butterfly Meadow to continue our project to rid the area of brambles and allow grass and wild flowers to dominate this South facing slope.

Brambles were snipped and then dug out with mattocks. Had quite a bit of sunshine for first half of our work....

At our break for juice and home made cake (thanks Jane), a nursery web spider (pictured) decided to try out our picnic blanket.






Spring Litter Clear-Up in Alexandra Park

Thanks to an enthusiastic group of volunteers more litter was evicted from the Park after our first session last month.

The weather was sunny to aid our work.

This was all part of the National "Great British Spring Clean".



  


A Wild Place: the ecology of London in place names

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Thirty people packed into the Park Information Centre on a Wednesday evening to hear Mathew Frith of the London Wildlife Trust. He gave us a great exposé of how many of our well known London suburbs have names with nature connections.

He also revealed how some road names reflect local natural features while others are merely names to improve the sound of the area.

Take back one fact. Penge is the only London area with a Celtic name origin......



Winter Tree Walk 2017

With Winter still keeping a heavy grip on the Park, the Friends took a walk to discover how to identify Trees in their bare state and to look for any early signs of Spring.

Just below the Terrace it was a pleasure to see the Cornelian Cherries (actually not Cherries, but Dogwoods) starting to come out in their yellow-flowered finery. (pictured left)

We took a walk down past the Pitch and Putt and through the Butterfly Meadow. On the way we learnt that the buds of a tree can come out either opposite each other on a branch or alternating providing a valuable method for identifying the tree.

While on the walk we spotted a nice couple of patches of snowdrops on the Old Racecourse before seeing traces of the Elm Bark beetle larvae on the dead elm trees.

On a lighter note there were also Hazel catkins to be seen as well as the minute red female flowers.

Another little identification clue given is when a deciduous tree still clings to its dead leaves. Often this happens when the branch or tree is dead. Otherwise it is likely that the tree is either a Beech, Hornbeam or Oak. This tendency is especially prevalent in younger trees.

Looking across the Nature Pond, we could see the first Pussy Willow coming out.

Our walk finished by going up through the Blandford Hall area where a forest of Silver Birch trees is evident after the Hall burnt down in 1971.

We finished at the top of the Rose Garden before adjourning for a cuppa in the Lakeside Cafe.



Friends February Members Walk 2017

“A surprisingly large group braved the very cold weather on February 11th for the members’ walk during which Gordon pointed out the layout of the racecourse, the position of its various starts and finish line, and of the grandstand and paddock (not surprisingly where the Paddock car park now stands). 

Unfortunately no physical evidence remains of any of these features but amusing quotes from the newspapers of the time provided some insights into the nature of the crowds that attended the races: this was no Epsom or Ascot. The management of the racecourse did not help matters with a small misprint on their adverts: “N.B. The company reserve the right of refusing admission to any person they think proper.”



Litter Clean Up - February


“Winter is a good time to get out into the park and search out the litter which has blown into the undergrowth. A gallant band of members of the Friends did just this on February 4th, unearthing not only the usual haul of cans, bottles, plastic bags and crisp packets, but also a vacuum cleaner, children’s toys and a set of outdoor children’s furniture. However the prize for the most surprising find went to a life size inflatable doll (not inflated).

This was the first of two litter clean-ups we have planned for the park. The next coincides with “The Great British Spring Clean” weekend. We will meet at the Bedford Road entrance to the park at 10.30am on March 4th. Do join us.”



Rapturous about raptors

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We were thoroughly entertained and informed by David Darrell-Lambert when he gave a talk about identifying raptors at the Park Information Centre on the 26th of January. He showed us straightforward ways to identify theses fascinating birds, which can be a real challenge when all you catch is the occasional glimpse far up in the sky.

Using images of pairs of similar sized birds, such as kestrel and sparrow hawk he pointed out simple distinguishing features like the black wind tips of the kestrel versus plain brown wings of the sparrow hawk, or different flight patterns: the kestrel frequently hovers with rapid wing-beats while the sparrow hawk flies with a ‘flap-flap-glide’ pattern.


As a point of interest, the word ‘raptor’ comes from the Victorian scientific name for birds of prey, which in turn derives from the Latin word meaning ‘plunderer’, or someone who seizes and carries away. That is pretty much what birds of prey or 'raptors' do - they seize, or grab their prey and carry it away.


January Conservation Work Party

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We continued to beat back the brambles to restore the habitat of the Butterfly Meadow. Winter is a good time to see and remove the brambles and it’s rewarding to see the difference we are making in this corner of the Park.

(Bramble picture from the Autumn.)








Friends January Members Walk

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The weather forecast was terrible on Saturday.  The weather forecast was terrible on Sunday. The actual weather itself was similar so a very small, elite and determined group set off from the Park Information to see what was in flower this time of year and to get an update on the Park. 

It was good to see snowdrops poking their heads above the soil by the Park Information Centre so flowering will be soon.

Our walk took us towards the Palace where we saw the newly re-branded Phoenix-Bar and Kitchen then via the Rose Garden to the Boating Lake. Here we looked at some the ducks and geese etc. before adjourning to the cafe where two thirds of the company enjoyed a warming drink. 

We saw in flower: Garya elliptica, Skimmia, Hazel, Yarrow, Daisy (both native and garden varieties), honeysuckle (pictured), several types of Viburnum and Witch Hazel.

In the cafe we were lucky to bump into our Bird Walk leader, Gareth, who updated us on birds seen recently in the park including a large flock of redwings.









On-going events

Free Health Walks

Health walks, starting in Priory Road and walking into Alexandra Park, take place every Monday at 10:15 am.

Everyone welcome, whatever level of fitness. Lasts 45 minutes.  More details.


Park Run in Alexandra Park


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The Ally Pally Park Run is a 5km timed run, jog or walk, which takes place in Alexandra Park every
Saturday at 9am.

Recently the Park Run has topped 180 runners!

Park Run is organised by volunteers and is free to anyone wishing to take part, but prior registration is needed. See http://www.parkrun.org.uk/allypally.


For an interview with the founder and director of Park Run in  Alexandra Park,  Catherine Edeam, see Interviews.


The Conservation Volunteers


April 2017

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Hot, hot, hot. With April temperatures soaring up to about 25 degrees for the volunteers. Can't complain, but it was a little distracting as were the sound of cheers and shouts from the football pitch nearby.

The team attacked the brambles with mattocks and forks in the Butterfly Meadow helping to stop them from re-establishing.

Some Oak Apples were spotted nearby (picture on Oak Trees) also butterflies came through including Speckled Wood, Orange Tip and Holly Blues.

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We made some good progress on this treasured corner and we are looking forward to the wild flowers that will soon be filling the area.

Make a note in your diary to join us on Sunday, 14th May








The Conservation Volunteers work in the grounds of Alexandra Park usually on the second Sunday of every month. 
 
They carry out various conservation tasks such as pond clearance, building foot bridges, planting trees, and opening glades to increase bio-diversity.



Junior Go-Ape Course opened on 18th March


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The Junior Go-Ape Course opened to the public on 18th March. T
he adult course will be built later in the year opening this Summer. You can find more details about the operating times and the environmental mitigation which GoApe will undertake in a letter which Louise Stewart, the Alexandra Park and Palace Chief Executive, has sent to residents adjacent to that part of the Park, which can be found here

Work has been done on the old Deer Building for Go-Ape use.



Prices

Tree Top Junior: £20 per Tarzan




Want to hear about future Park and Alexandra Palace Way closures?

Natalie Layton of the Alexandra Park and Palace Trust has clarified that anyone wishing to receive future notifications of closures of Alexandra Palace Way (W3 etc.) or parts of the Park (not marketing emails) should send a request to: Natalie.Layton@alexandrapalace.com


Work on the Lower Path


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Part of the Lower Road has been resurfaced. Hopefully when more funds become available the improvements will be continued.








Work by the Alexandra Park Road entrance



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Due to the construction work starting at Anderton Court, the wall bordering the Park entrance has been demolished to aid the building of the new housing units. 

It is a condition of the planning approval that the wall is rebuilt with the reclaimed bricks at the end of the construction period.

The end of the works is programmed for "early" 2017.

The buildings closest to the entrance are nearly finished.






If you are fascinated by the Trees in the Park you may wish to try out our  new and growing "Tree App".

Follow this link for details.




Items which originally appeared on this Home page, may have been moved to other pages, such as Park Issues and Previous Events in the Park. 

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