Thursday 23 July 2015

What's (Not) Happening With Poor Old Wormholt Park?

Wormholt Park. Image: Wikimedia Commons
What's (not) happening with poor neglected Wormholt Park? New improved playgrounds have been promised by our Council since at least 2009.  Wormholt Park has the potential to be a beautiful green space in a part of the Borough which could use a lot more of it, but right now it feels generally dilapidated and underinvested. Why has Wormholt been neglected by our Council when so many other parks in the Borough have been significantly improved?

Friends of Wormholt Park - get involved!
For some years now Wormholt Park has been the poor relation of the parks in our Borough. The playgrounds are dilapidated and have been waiting to be refurbished for some years. There has been much talk but little action.  According to local residents, things have been getting gradually worse year on year as play items break and are removed, replaced by bare concrete and weeds.

Wormholt Park has been around for over 100 years, and was first opened on Tuesday 27 June 1911 by the Mayor of Hammersmith.  The name ‘Wormeholt’ is a combination of the old English word Worme, meaning snake, and Holt, meaning wood. So, "snakewood" would be an approximate translation into modern English. By the nineteenth century the snakes and the wood were gone, replaced by two farms: Old Oak Farm and Wormholt Farm.

In the early 1900s the Ecclesiastical Commissioners decided to develop the farms and build houses. The price of the deal between the Commissioners and Hammersmith Council was the donation of some land for public recreation. In other words, you can build your houses, but give us a park. Not unlike the recent agreement with St James to redevelop the land north of Westfield - with a new park being the price of the deal.

In recent years the park has fallen in disrepair, and the Friends of Wormholt Park was founded a decade or so ago to try and improve things.  A glance at their website reveals that the Friends "have been informed by the Council that work on the redevelopment of Wormholt Park will not start until July of this year at the earliest."

Plans for Wormholt Park. 
Recently Ian Ross, the Head of Parks for our Borough, who also does the same job for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, contacted a local resident, suggesting that works would begin this year, and promising "two new play facilities for Wormholt Park". These new play areas are to be "unique to the borough", and will "include an adventure play area for older children and a family area for smaller children". The adventure play area will be built "between the mature trees in the parks north eastern corner and will include a wobbly bridge, a multi-play structure, a tree play sculpture, a trampoline, hammock and table tennis facility".

The family area has been "designed following a series of workshops with local primary schools, and is based around a bespoke Wormholt dragon play sculpture and includes basket swings, spinning discs, steel domes, a roundabout and a slide". These new facilities are described as "imaginative and unique spaces that are attractive to children rather than municipal play facilities with standard play equipment."

So, there is potentially a lot to look forward to - but when will it happen? Among those pushing for meaningful change is the Friends of Wormholt Park (if you'd like to get involved, you can find their website here).

According to Derek Wright, Chairman of the Friends of Wormholt Park, contracts have "now been signed, or are in the process of being signed".  There were some delays due to the "initial bids coming in over budget", but the plans are now going ahead - though regrettably "without the tennis court".

Does this mean no tennis then? Not necessarily. Tennis courts may yet get built, but this will have to be subject to raising extra funds, probably via an appeal, in the future.

In the meantime local residents can expect works to "begin in September", and the new refurbished park to open in the spring of 2016.

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1 comment:

  1. The latest from Ian Ross of LBHF: "we anticipate [the works] commencing in late September/early October