Manor Park

Manor Park in 2022

2022 saw Manor Park make its biggest step forward for many years, with the launch of the new kids playground. This would not have happened as it did without the involvement of you the community.

A lot else happened during 2022. We ran 3 volunteer work mornings, a nature based festival – Naturefest, a Park PowWow community session, the Christmas on Plough Green event and various guided walks. We planted hundreds of bulbs and lots of new trees. Our weekday volunteers were out most weeks litter-picking, cleaning off graffiti, and generally tending to the green spaces. Behind the scenes the friends team were involved across a range of projects and issues, working with our friends at the council and at the green-spaces contractor.

The NEW Playground

The new Manor Park playground finally opened to the public in August. It is arguably now one of the best in the borough. It has been busy with children and parents from the moment it launched, becoming an immediate destination.

Playgrounds of this standard don’t just happen. To get to where it is today has involved the community, the Friends of Manor Park, the council, local councillors, local businesses, and even the Mayor of London.

We were delighted to transfer to the council a contribution of £20,000, which was raised by the community and the group to the overall playground budget.

A big thank you to Fiona Sowell, from the friends team, who so passionately managed this project from our side.

Naturefest

We now run an annual nature-based festival – Naturefest. This years’ well attended event ran in early September. We had a birds of prey show, a reptile house in the hall, live music, nature talks, hot/cold food and a selection of themed stalls.

Volunteer mornings

We try to run 3-4 weekend volunteer mornings each year. These normally happen on a Saturday, with 30+ local volunteers getting together to make various improvements to the park’s greenspaces. This years’ work included adding woodchip to the paths, planting bulbs, trees and hedging, woodland maintenance and litter-picking.

Weekday volunteers

Almost every week without fail a group of senior volunteers turn out to litter-pick, deal with graffiti, top-up the birdfeeders, and work on the green spaces, including cutting back overgrowth on paths. Their collective week-in week-out work makes a huge difference to the park.

Trees for the playground

Some of the feedback we received about the new playground was that it lacked shade. We asked the tree team at the council if we could get a scheme of semi-mature trees planted to help create the much needed shaded and interest. They duly obliged. In November their contractor planted a selection of 14 trees, which the community will benefit from for years to come.

Christmas on Plough Green

Each year now the friends group with the help of local residents and businesses organises the Community Christmas Tree and the lights switch-on. This year the Mayor Of Kingston gave a speech and switched the lights on for us. This is always a lovely community event.

Outreach

We organised 3 local walks – a batwalk at the Hogsmill, a tour of Tolworth Court Farm and a Swift walk. These are part of our work to reach-out of the park. A big thank you to Elliot Newton, our local Bio-diversity Officer for supporting us with these.

Other improvements

We liaised with the sports officer at the council, resulting in an outside table tennis table being installed between the tennis courts and the playground. We were delighted that the park also benefited from the installation of an all-year cricket pitch. We’ve now got a junior club who use the park on Saturdays during the summer.

The next 12 months

On the agenda for next year is more work improving our green spaces, getting a mobile café to set up on weekends, working with the council and the Shiraz Mirza Trust to ensure that the hall maximises its amenity value for our neighbourhood, working with the council to get new paths installed, and to ensure that the new adult gym is properly consulted on within the community. We will be running Naturefest ’23 and Christmas on Plough Green. We’re also looking to make the Friends of Manor Park into a charity.

A park for our community 

The community came together in 2016 to create the Friends of Manor Park group. We work on behalf of the local community to protect and improve the park. Parks have the potential to offer communities with significant amenity value – health, social, play, sport, education, access to green space, and environmental benefits.

The arrival of our new playground has helped us really understand how the park can act as a community hub. It is now the public space where most people from our community gather for one reason or another. One day in the summer we counted over 200 people in the playground. Manor Park can help the Motspur Park and Old Malden community live in a neighbourhood where more of our local amenity is truly in walking distance and of a high standard.

If you share our vision for our park as a community space and want to help us increase the level of amenity, its quality and its relevance for the local community then do get in touch or join us at one of our events.

A big thank you to all our wonderful volunteers and the local businesses who support our work.

Wishing you a happy New Year from the Friends of Manor Park Team – Fiona, Nausheen, Matt, Bryn and Simeon.

Manor Park

Plough Green Christmas Tree Switch-ON

On Saturday the 26th of November we held our annual Christmas tree switch-on at Plough Green and what a magical event. The event was organised by Fiona Sowell and Nausheen Arnold so a big thank you to them. The Vibrant Ukuleles provided the Christmas music and song and Kingston Mayor Yogan Yoganathan was there to switch-on the Christmas tree.

Once again, thanks to our financial supporters – Ivygate Estate Agents, Miller and Carter, Joanne Chandler, Jazz Barbers, Plough Pharmacy, Worcester Park Tiles, Bruce Elliot and last but not least, the Old Malden Ward Councillors.

The Vibrant Ukuleles

Christmas music and cheer.

The raffle and goodies tent

Mayor Yogan Yoganathan giving his speech.

The countdown

The switch-on

Decorating the Christmas tree.

Manor Park

Grand Opening of the Manor Park Playground

After 4 years of hard work the community came together on Sunday 14th August for the grand opening of the new Manor Park playground.

Many local people turned up to support this momentous occasion. Simeon Linstead, Chair of Friends of Manor Park, introduced our amazing project leader, Fiona Sowell. She’s led this work from day one, and her persistence has certainly paid off, with what is arguably one of the best playgrounds in the borough.

Fiona gave a short speech, during which she told the story of how we got to where we are today, she also thanked the community for their amazing support, our fundraising team, local councillors (particularly former cllr Simon Edwards), Kinsgton Council, Mayor of London, our landscape architects – Outerspace, the playground supplier – Kompan, and the local businesses who supported the event – Hooky Street, Tesco, Co-op, and Plough Bakery.

Fiona then handed over to the former Mayor, Cllr Thay Thayalan, who gave a short speech. He made reference to the fantastic community effort that’s gone into this playground, how Covid had made it a much more challenging project, and the council’s committment to parks through its Community Playgrounds Programme.  He then cut the ribbon which was tied across the monkey bars AND our playground was formerly open.

Read more about the story of the playground

The Friends of Manor Park Team ran a couple of gazebos. In one we listened to ideas from the community, answered questions, and showed off the architects drawings for the park masterplan.

Kompan, the company that installed the playground had a gazebo where families could pick up tokens to get free ice creams. We also had another stall where Harriet Linstead applied glitter makeup and a balloon lady who modelled funny shaped balloons for the children. The ever popular Hooky Street Cafe had a stall for coffee, cold drinks and snacks.

We received lots of positive feedback from local parents, who love the new larger space, the fantastic new equipment and the smart picnic seating. People were saying how they now have a playground they can invite their friends to.

Find out what’s next for the playground and the park – read more

View more photos from the opening event – gallery

Fionna Sowell giving a speech about the history of this project.
Simeon Linstead, Chair of Friends of Manor Park, outside the Friends of Manor Park stall
Queuing up for ice creams courtesy of Kompan.
Richard Broome of Outerspace the landscape designers
Harriet Linstead applying glitter makeup
Former Mayor Cllr Thay Thayala giving a speech
Cllr Thay Thayala officially opening the playground.
The Balloon Modeller
The queue for the Balloon Modeller.
Hooky Street Cafe
Manor Park

Suburban Swift Safari

On Wednesday 6th of July Simeon Linsted organised a talk and walk on the subject of swifts in the UK.  We met outside the Shiraz Mirza Hall in Manor Park and there was given a talk about swifts by Louise Cole and Elliot Newton. We learned that swifts spend 90% of their lives in flight, that they migrate from southern Africa and they return to the same nests in the UK every year to breed. 

We then went on a walk around the streets of New Malden, observing swifts in the evening sky. A peregrine falcon and a wood pecker was also spotted. This demonstrates the diversity of bird life in our local area. 

The walk ended on Amberwood Rise outside the house of Louise’s son. We watched in astonishment at the swarm of swifts flying overhead.  Here Louise showed us her son’s swift boxes, on the front of his house. 

A big thank you to Louise, Elliot and Simeon for such an educational talk and walk. 

Louise giving us a talk on swifts.
Looking at swifts in the sky
Swifts in the evening sky.
Swift box on a house.
Manor Park

Summer Solstice Nature Walk

On the longest day of the year (21st June) a nature walk and talk was organised. We started off in early evening at the Moated Manor next to the Ewell Bypass. There Elliot Newton gave us a lecture on conservation, wildlife and history of Tolworth Court Farm, inside an old barn. We also admired a nest of kestrels in a tree on the Moated Manor nature reserve.

We then proceed across the Ewell Bypass into Tolworth Court Farm. Elliot guided us around Tolworth Court Farm, stopping off at various points to point out the natural features of the area. We finished the evening with a quick pint in the Hogsmill pub.

A big thank you to Simeon Linstead for organising the evening walk and to Eliot Newton for being our guide for the evening.

Manor Park

Volunteers spring to action into Manor Park (March Volunteer Morning)

We ran our 2nd volunteer morning of the year on Saturday 12th March. Once again the weather was very kind to us – sunshine and light breezes.

By 10am we were all set up with the gazebo, refreshment table, along with all our tools and other equipment.

We never know who is going to turn up on the day, but as usual we weren’t to be disappointed. A good size group were congregated around the gazebo by kick-off. We had a quite few new volunteers, who’d been attracted our posters along Malden Road.

Tasks for the day were litter-picking, hedge planting and woodland maintenance. The latter involved widening a cut-through between the senior football pitches and the wild area in the far corner of the park.

All three tasks posed no difficulties for our enthusiastic volunteers.

The hedge which runs along the back of the houses near the junior football pitches, will create a real legacy, providing a great new habitat for wildlife for many decades to come.

The cut-through at the back simply makes it more likely that people will venture into the wild meadow area. We also hope that it will make this space feel less intimidating for people walking around the park by themselves.

We had a handful of amazing junior helpers who helped pick litter and spread woodchip mulch around the base of the wildlife hedge.

The Friends of Manor Park team enjoyed meeting everyone. A massive thank you to all who attended.

Note:

  • The next big happening in the park is the installation of the new playground. It’s going be really special. We will arrange a little get together to celebrate the opening.
  • Every Thursday volunteers litter pick in the park. Anyone can join. Just bring a litterpick and a plastic bag.
  • Our large Saturday volunteers mornings will resume in September, however we may put out a call for volunteers for smaller task in the meantime.

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