|HCC Site ID:||1759||Parish:|
|Designations:||Area:||c 11 ha|
|Access:||Public Access||Ownership:||Gosport Borough Council|
Location and site
Walpole Park straddles South Street to the west and south-west of Gosport’s High Street and town centre. The Park’s southern boundary, much of it on reclaimed land adjacent to Haslar Lake, has been raised to provide a wide walkway and grassed area that gives good views of Gosport Model Yacht Lake, its clubhouse, cafe, the town and Haslar Pennisula. A south eastern path links the park to Trinity Green, Trinity Time Space, the esplanade path to the Ferry Port and Falkland Gardens. The Park, north of South Street and south of the lime-avenued Walpole Road, is flat, mainly grassed and used for special events.
Around 1868, the Alverstoke and Gosport Local Board were given permission by the War Department to develop the old horse field, used by the army for exercising horses, as a recreation ground. No rent was charged, but in 1891 they were paying £20 a year. By about the 1890s, Walpole Road, which was maintained by the Board, was named after Canon Thomas Walpole, a rector of St Mary’s Church, Alverstoke, whose great uncle was Sir Robert Walpole. During the two world wars the park became allotments (My Gosport online 2013). After the first world war, ‘Horse Field’ was levelled for games. The ground was also enlarged by the demolition of the town ramparts. At this time the old Cockle Pond, originally Mill Pond, was renovated by removing the south-west corner, raising the sides and water level by a foot, and building a surrounding concrete wall. A wooden gangway was replaced by a causeway across the eastern end. The Cockle Pond was renamed ‘Gosport Model Yacht Lake’. The work was completed by men from an unemployment works programme, funded from a government grant. The area may have been renamed ‘Walpole Park’ after this work. The 1932-33 OS map shows the full extent of the Park; which includes tennis grounds, moat, a swimming bath and a foot bridge across the pond. The clubhouse of the Model Yacht Club was built in 1938 and an adjacent building in 1939. The club and lake provided the venue for international model yacht racing. A report in the Hampshire Telegraph in 1933 stated that the site of 17 acres of land and four of water, previously leased, were sold to the council by the commissioners of Crown lands for £7,500. Two conditions were attached to the sale, one that the council was free to use six acres for a new town hall, and the second that the rest was to remain as open space for the use of the public for ever. The new town hall was not built on this site (Evening News 1989). In 1952, on the western side of the park and the southern end of Willis Road, three and three quarter acres of land was sold by the council for housing. In 1957, eight old Poplar trees, situated behind the Avenue were removed and replaced by flowering trees, and flower beds were planted at this time. During the 1960s, South Street was built which separated the northern part of the park adjacent to Walpole Road from the area next to the boating lake. In 1996, the boat house, used to house hire boats, was in a dilapidated state. The swimming baths had been replaced with a car park. As part of the Millennium project the southern area of the park was given a face lift. In 2005, a new circular purpose-built clubhouse, cafe and storage for the hire boats, were built south and east of a previous site between the two lakes.
In the southern park, the site of the previous clubhouse is now a grassed area that overlooks the lakes. There are plenty of seats around the lakes from which to sit and watch the great number of swans, Canada geese and other waterfowl. Pathways around the lakes and across the park have been resurfaced providing easy access in any weather. A skate board track and netball pitch have been added, and the children’s play area and keep-fit circuit have been refurbished. A small area of woodland has been planted in the south west corner.
In the northern section of the park, the lime avenue remains along Walpole Road. A semi-circular path and seating, nearer the town centre, have replaced the flower beds between the avenue, cherry trees and large hornbeam hedge. The hedge extents the whole length of the north side of the park and provides an effective barrier to the special events grassed rectangle. The events area is enclosed by railings on the south and west sides, by dense planting of shrubs on the east, and is surrounded by regularly planted ornamental trees. On a couple of visits in the autumn 2013 the Park was free of litter and well maintained.
Walpole Park is a late 19th century urban park that has been reduced in size and is now divided into two sections by a road. Nevertheless, it provides: an area for festivals; a large lake for international model yacht racing and small boat hire; a pleasant recreational area; and, since the millennium, a route-way linking Trinity Green, Trinity Green Time Space, the esplanade path, ferry terminal and Falkland Gardens.
HGT Research update, December 2013
HGT Research 1996
Hampshire County Council, Urban Park Survey 1997
My Gosport online 2013