Falkland Gardens, The (The Esplanade)

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HCC Site ID: 1749 Parish: Gosport
Designations: Area: Small
Access: Public Access Ownership: Gosport Borough Council

Location and site

The Falkland Gardens, at Gosport, are adjacent to the Ferry terminal to Portsmouth where there are fine views of Portsmouth Harbour and Spithead. A straight path from the ferry leads eastwards across a road to the pedestrianised shopping area which is parallel to the High Street. The site is on reclaimed land that was originally a cobbled ‘Hard’ which was raised to be above the tidal waters of Portsmouth harbour. In 2000, the esplanade promenade was improved and the Trinity Green Time Space constructed to the south, providing a link to Trinity Green and Walpole Park. This was a recommendation made in the 1997 Urban Park Study produced by Hampshire County Council.

Historic Development

In 1922, Mr W C Harvey, the Chairman of the Gosport Urban District Council, had his idea to improve the sea approach to the town, known as ‘The Hard’, and make it useful and attractive adopted. An esplanade was to be constructed, gardens laid out and a new quay and pontoon for the ferry services built. The work was undertaken by J Price & Co., and begun in 1922, using unemployed people from the ‘Governments Unemployment Scheme’. Three acres of land had to be reclaimed, and this was completed in 1925. No plans have been found. The main pathway was called ‘Harvey’s Promenade’ in honour of Mr W C Harvey. While all the maps show the name ‘Esplanade Gardens’, local people referred to them as ‘Ferry Gardens’.   More land was reclaimed for the extension of the gardens on the southern side and in 1973 this became known as ‘Royan Gardens’ after the town in France which is twinned with Gosport. However, in 1984 they were renamed ‘The Falkland Gardens’ as a tribute to members of the armed forces who gave their lives or were injured in that campaign. There is a memorial plaque and bench plaques manufactured and presented by HMS Dolphin, Gosport 1983 (HGT research 1996).
By 1996, further land had been reclaimed on the north side, adjacent to Camper & Nicholson shipbuilding yard. The yard has been operating here since 1782, building world class yachts. Formal bedding was planted. On the southern side of the ferry terminal, a new bus station, ferry ticket office, cafe, and public conveniences were built. On the western side, a roundabout had become a link road, and with the site of the former conveniences providing an area for seating and a taxi rank. This was probably all part of the 1960s Trinity Green Development Scheme when much of the area was demolished to make way for high rise flats (UPS 1997, 4.2).
In May 2000, a three million pound redesign of the entire Esplanade area was completed. This included the new ‘Time Space’ feature along with the new promenade and a new look for the Gardens (Gosport BC online 2013).

Current description

Since the Urban Park Study in 1997, and as a result of the redesign of the Esplanade area, the bedding area adjacent to the shipyard has been removed, a slightly raised grassed circular bank constructed with, on the western side, two sets of steps leading down to a large hard standing area, with an entrance on to the promenade. This area appears to provide space for local bands to perform. The Dracenas remain, with a line of trees screening most of the shipyard. All the paths have been replaced by brick paving and edged with granite setts. Between each path and near to the circular path around the central fountain, there are two parallel Victorian beds, instead of one. Apparently, they are redesigned each year to commemorate notable anniversaries (Gosport BC online, 2013). The central fountain, a feature of the 1920s design, has replaced the bust of Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Fieldhouse, (unveiled in 1993), which is now positioned near the entrance to the ferry, still within the park. The bust is surrounded by formal bedding plants. There are a number of commemorative plaques and numerous seats. It is apparent, even on a cool autumn day, that the park is well used for ferry passengers and local people.

Summary

The Falklands Gardens are a 1920s public park that has retained its central circular fountain and radiating paths, with some additions and modifications around the periphery. It provides an amenity for ferry passengers and a splendid place to watch the traffic through and around Portsmouth Harbour. The additional promenade to Trinity Green Time-Space and Walpole Park provides an added attraction and a very pleasant walk.

HGT Research update: September 2013

References

Gosport BC online 2013 http://www.gosport.gov.uk/sections/environment/horticulture/parks-and-open-spaces/6-falkland-gardens/
HGT Research 1996
UPS Urban Park Study 1997, Hampshire County Council


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