The landscape of Faversham has been given a boost through the recent completion of a £1.9m joint Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund project to restore historic features and improve facilities at Faversham Recreation Ground. As part of this Parks for People programme, the heritage of the Rec. is being explored.
Ben Simon, Activity Co-ordinator at Swale Borough Council, has already unearthed some wonderful details about the site. For example in 1863, an estimated audience of 5,000 attended celebrations to mark the marriage of the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark that included speeches, a tree planting ceremony and a train running over fog signals placed on the adjacent railway in imitation of a 21 gun salute. Another glimpse into the past is provided in a report of 1869 that ‘the use of velocipedes be disallowed in the Recreation Ground, as being somewhat dangerous.’ Velocipedes were an early form of bike, and some 70 years later, in 1939, there was a craze for roller skating at the Rec. which also resulted in heated debates about safety. According to a newspaper of the time, the paths were hardly safe for pedestrians and the noise of skates was almost unbearable for residents of Park Road!
Ben is keen to chat to anyone who can recall the Rec. in times gone by. Do you remember the First World War tank that stood on a plinth at the corner of Park Road and Whitstable Road? What happened to the drinking fountain which incorporated a lovely carving of a robed girl holding an amphora? What about the air raid shelters in the Rec? Or can you remember the gardeners and park staff who lived at the lodge? Memories of children’s games, sporting events and the impressive barbecues held at the site in the 1950s are also sought. If you can help, please contact Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07925 148303. To ensure complete safety from coronavirus, Ben can talk to you on the phone, on WhatsApp or Skype.
As part of the Memories of the Rec project, Ben is also keen to know if anyone has old family photos or pictures of the recreation ground that he could borrow and copy, to use in displays and publications about the site. If you can assist, he would love to hear from you.