In the past month, the regeneration project at Ellington Park has focused on its heritage and preserving the park’s history digitally, via the archive project.
Starting with the Friends of Ellington Park collection, eight archive volunteers have been reviewing the community contributions and finding items of interest that fit the collection criteria. There are five categories for the archive which cover how the park has been used, what it looked like, important dates and stories of the people involved. So far the following information or items have been found;
Leisure: Historical planned public events in Ellington Park of both local and national significance. The complete playbill of the 1934 pageant in the park with more than 2,500 Ramsgate residents performing, posters for the Phoenix Fairs in the 1980s and the May Fayres organised by the Friends.
Landscape: Heritage features and archaeology. A Victorian postcard with an image of the lost fountain, originally installed in the park in 1894 has been found.
Nature: Historical or changes in trees, planting and wildlife, including a 75th commemorative flower bed in the park (pictured).
War Time: World War One or World War Two links with the Ramsgate Tunnels in the park, including a Great War replica poster and photo of wood carving of a soldier.
People: Historical people involved in the park, families of the Ellington Estate, park keepers and others of local or national significance. A photo of park keeper Mr Griggs in the 1930’s has also been found and digitised.
Many more items are being digitally recorded and added to the online archive and catalogue weekly, with a target of 2,000 items to be digitised in the first year of the project. The archive will be available for public view online and will be launched with a new website in the coming year.
To preserve and enhance the history of the park Thanet District Council and the Friends of Ellington Park are working behind the scenes to finalise design and issue tender documents. The procurement process is to ensure best value for money for public funds, including National Lottery Heritage Fund support of £1.8m.
The scheme will involve the creation of a new café, toilets and landscaping.
Ellington Park is 126 years old. The late Victorian and Edwardian landscaped area is across 13 acres of land. It was laid out in 1893 on what was once part of the estate surrounding Ellington House.
The park was designed by the Victorian landscape company Joseph Cheal and Son, known for their work at Hever Castle and Kirkstall Abbey.
The scheme will create the new community café and toilets, a restored bandstand, with landscape works to conserve the terrace and bring back Cheal’s landscape scheme.
The new cafe business plan sets out how the café building will be run and managed as an environmentally friendly, healthy eating, not–for–profit community enterprise by the Friends of Ellington Park. All profits will be re-invested in the park, employing a community gardener and continuing community activities and events after the funding period is finished.
Works are scheduled to start in the park at the end of 2019 and bandstand restoration works commence in January 2020.