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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.