Descendant of Dane Park benefactor plants cherry tree for Colourful Margate project

John Woodward with Colourful Margate volunteers Photo Frank Leppard

A descendant of the benefactor who gifted Dane Park to the residents of Margate has taken part in a cherry tree planting at the site.

John Woodward, who celebrated his 91st birthday this week, joined Colourful Margate for the planting at the park today (April 18). He is the great-great-nephew, and named after, John Woodward who bought the park – formerly farmland – at auction in 1895.

Mr Woodward was a Margate resident and presented the land to the inhabitants of the town to form the park, together with additional land for forming and widening the surrounding roads and six acres of building land on the south west side of the park.

Dane Park was opened by the Lord Mayor of London on June 1, 1898. It had a substantial lake, rustic bridges, swans and peacocks, refreshment rooms and a bandstand.

A fountain was erected in the park by the corporation of Margate as a memorial to the Mr Woodward.

John and Stephanie Photo Frank Leppard

Today’s planting means the continued growth of the cherry tree project started by the Colourful Margate group in 2018.

The first 16 ornamental cherry trees were planted in October/November 2018 with the help of residents, local businesses and local councillors, in close collaboration with the Thanet District Council Open Spaces Team and KCC Councillor Barry Lewis, and in partnership with Dane Valley Woods and Margate Civic Society.

Since then the number of cherry trees in Dane Park has increased to 123 with varieties of Japanese Sakura  chosen by Colourful Margate based on factors such as the variation of colour, timing and historical significance.

The planting in 2019/2020 was made possible with funding from the Urban Tree Challenge Fund and carried out under a former partnership with Isle of Thanet Trees and Woods Initiative, with the help of the community.

Photo Frank Leppard

Colourful Margate founder Stephanie Nsom said: “Dane Park has 123 cherry trees and we don’t intend to stop there! We continue to be inspired by the stunning vision of Washington DC’s cherry blossom with its more than 3,000 Japanese cherry trees.

“It was a great pleasure to meet with John Woodward and a beautiful gesture of his children to donate this new Japanese cherry tree (Prunus Beni-Yutaka) for his birthday. It felt like a small moment in history to be there with John and plant his cherry tree 126 years after his great-great uncle bought the land at auction – now Dane Park.

“We hope that the Dane Park fountain will be reinstated soon. Wouldn’t it look lovely, a working fountain with blossoming cherry trees in Spring.”

Stephanie said there will be more plantings this year and the desire for more trees is growing nationally.

She said: “We were pleased to read in February this year about the National Trust announcing its project to plant blossom trees in cities nationwide in the UK. It is great to see that others share a similar vision.

“Margate Civic Society believed in and supported our Dane Park Cherry Tree project from the very beginning and to show our appreciation, a label for the Margate Civic Society’s cherry tree went up in December 2020, in presence of Honorary Secretary Geoff Orton.

“One of our ongoing future goals has been to involve the younger community more in cherry tree planting. This idea is taking shape since February this year.

John with photographer Frank

“Colourful Margate started collaborating with the national Sakura Cherry Tree Project in the UK, to provide free cherry trees to schools in Thanet. The Sakura project marks 150 years of Japan-UK friendship and the continued cooperation between the two nations. Launched in 2017, and because cherry blossom  is the national flower of Japan, 6,000 cherry trees have been planted throughout the UK since 2020, with a dedicated school program.

“These trees from the Sakura project are a gift from the people of Japan to the people of the UK, sponsored by Japanese businesses.”

Seven schools in Margate and one in Westgate-on-Sea received their free cherry trees for planting in March and Colourful Margate and the Sakura team are contacting all schools in Thanet to offer a free cherry tree for planting in November


  1. Over the last year or so TDC and KCC has cut down a few trees. But am I am the only one that is starting to think that the present tree planting across Thanet at places such as Dane Park, Dane Valley, Hartsdown, Tivoli, The Westcliff in Ramsgate and Ellington Park, to name a few is a bit of overkill? I saw the poor soul trying to cut the grass at Hartsdown last week. It like he was in a maze. Going round and round, the new trees It may look funny but we are all paying for their time cutting the grass.

    • No, we need more trees. Gardeners have been ‘going around trees’ for many hundreds of years and it hasn’t bankrupted anyone yet.

    • I’ve just written to Kent Gardens Trust to suggest they start a new campaign to remove all the trees from North Cray Place. What was Capability Brown thinking planting all those free-loading, time-wasting trees?

  2. Land in Duke Street Margate was sold off by TDC to a developer recently when it should have been a small piece of shaded green for the community. It has a protected mature tree on it and it’s the last mature tree in the old town. Now against the public views and objections on the council portal they say they will give consent to the developer to fell it ! TDC hate trees which is evident with Thanet being in the bottom 2% of areas in the country for trees. Even London has a higher percentage than lovely Thanet.
    It’s nice to see more trees in the parks now but this has nothing to do with TDC Planning dept.

    • I grew up in South East London (mostly Dulwich/Peckham area), and you’re never that far from vast parks, as well as many tree-lined streets. Thanet is barren in comparison, and even streets that once had trees (for example Station Road in Westgate) had them removed decades ago.

  3. I don’t think TDC does “hate” trees. But they are in a very difficult situation as they have not got a sensible local plan and the government has landed Thanet with a requirement for 17,000+ new homes. (These two things are not unrelated.)

    Thanet has been low in tree cover since before 1800. Also, London is not the sort of place which should be compared with Thanet on this subject. Enormous sums of money were spent on creating London’s parks in the 18th and 19th centuries. Rich individuals played a large part in this. Thanet , an agricultural area, is quite a different kettle of fish from London.

  4. Lovely job john. Was pleased to hear the story of when TDC attempted to sell the yard next to the park and you put paid to their plans to flog your great great uncles gift with your lawyering.
    Was a pleasure to plant the tree with you today on the land given by your forefathers for the recreation of locals ! Lest not forget. ‘For the residents ‘

Comments are closed.