Gosport Park

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HCC Site ID: 1750 Parish:
Designations: Area: 9.5 ha
Access: Public Access Ownership: Gosport Borough Council

Location and site

An open park surrounded on two sides by water (Stoke Lake) in an important position on the edge of Haslar Creek with extensive views out across the ‘lake’ and south to the Naval Cemetery. To the north and west are high density 1930s residential areas. The remaining fragment of Ewer Common lies adjacent to the west. Access to the car park and park from the north is along very narrow residential roads. The land is flat and the aspect open. Contains football, rugby and cricket pitches, bowls plus a small nature area and playground.

Historic development

In 1887 a furze covered wasteland known as Ewer Common, belonging to the church (and used as a gipsy encampment) was bought for £100 by the Gosport and Alverstoke Board for a public recreation ground. The conditions of sale stated that one third of the grounds were to be kept in its original state (the present Ewer Common) and that the park would be ‘perfectly free for the use of the public for ever’. The Board Surveyor (Mr W H Fry) drew up the plans (not found) and estimates. Colonel C. Mumby, Chairman of the Board opened the park and named it ‘The Park’ on 17 June 1891. The park boundaries were formed on three sides by Haslar Creek (Stoke Lake and Workhouse Lake) and by housing and allotments to the west. Alverstoke Workhouse stood on the northern boundary.
Ten acres (4.5 ha.) were laid out in a triangular shape for cricket, with room for three pitches. On the edge of Haslar Creek a cinder path for a cycle track (considered one of the best in the south) and a running track were laid out. Both had gone by 1910. Tennis courts were laid out in ‘The Dell’, possibly an earlier gravel pit. A broad perimeter avenue was tree lined, there were herbaceous flower beds around the perimeter, planting around specimen trees, seats and shelters. A portion of the ground was to be left wild to be laid out in winding walks. By 1910 there was a Lodge at the north –west corner of the park, residence of the park superintendant and nurseries and green houses in the park until the late 1950s. An ornamental redundant cannon was in place in the park by 1917 (since disappeared).
By the 1990s about half the land was being used for formal recreation: cricket, football, and a flood-lit rugby pitch occupied ‘The Dell’ . A bowling green and Victorian style pavilion on the NE corner and a small children’s playground in the SW corner. The majority of the rest of the land was amenity grass. Some surviving mature trees lined the walks and a lime avenue (1950s?) lies along the eastern boundary with Ewer Common but much of the original ornamental tree planting had been lost and not replaced, and the number of flowerbeds reduced. Beyond the clubhouse pavilion (1930s) on the north boundary was a small ‘wild’ area with paths going through. Much of the view across Haslar Creek was impeded by modern buildings but the top of Portsmouth Cathedral could be seen.

Current description

The amenity features of the park are well maintained and the allocation of space for various activities has not changed. The open aspect makes the park feel safe and it is well used during the day and early evening for organised and informal sport. The children’s playground , though rather exposed, has been improved/upgraded and is well-used. There are only five seating benches in the whole park and no picnic tables. There has been some replacement tree planting notably a mixed planting of 15 young trees by the water in the SW corner, but the group is too small to make much impact in this large site. In addition the nearby lime avenue follows an informal path that also reduces its impact. The tree shaded perimeter walk of the original design has largely disappeared, leaving a rather bleak interface between the amenity grass and the surrounding water . Only one flower bed remains, at the NE entrance gate, in a neglected condition [Sept 2013]. Beyond the Pavilion is the small ‘nature area’, a group of pines with ground cover of brambles; gorse: this is in poor condition and the evidence is that is largely used as a dog exercise area (a dog waste bin is provided). Views out of the park are mostly intact apart from the intrusion of modern housing: to the NE the view now includes the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth. However, views of the Naval Cemetery are obscured by a screen of maturing trees on the east bank of Stoke Lake.

Summary

A valuable and well-used park dominated by well-maintained formal recreation provision and amenity grassland. Its original design features have been much diluted. The park feels a safe place but the aspect is bleak with very little visual interest apart from the views out of the park. The shoreline, potentially an asset to the park, is uninteresting.
HGT Research 1997, Update 2013

References

Urban Parks Study 1997 (4.4)
Gosport Borough Council online 2013
http://www.gosport.gov.uk/sections/environment/horticulture/parks-and-open-spaces/10-gosport-park/


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