Improving the park
Since its formation, The Friends of Kennington Park has been committed to making Kennington Park a welcoming place, with good facilities for all.
Over the years, we have successfully raised funds to finance improvements to the Children's Playground, a Nature Trail, new planting in the sunken flower beds, an Air Raid Memorial, the cleaning of the old War Memorial.
Working with Lambeth Council, we secured a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to restore the Flower Garden, and produced the history boards – a permanent display showing the park's fascinating history.
And we're working with Lambeth now, to restore the park's classic skatebowl to its former glory, and to improve access.
Restoration of the Flower Garden
The Flower Garden was first opened in 1931, but had fallen into decay and become a focus for outdoor drinking and anti-social behaviour.
The restoration of the Garden has been the Friends' most ambitious project so far. Working with support from Lambeth Council, we secured a Stage 1 grant of £21k from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in 2012 to plan the project and carry out consultation. A Stage 2 grant (£375k) in 2014 allowed us to implement the plans. The total cost of the project was assessed by the HLF at over £550,000, including over £50,000 of volunteer time.
The new Garden was designed by LUC Landscape Architects and Gavin Jones Landscape & Design. Read more about the restoration here: https://www.gavinjones.co.uk/awards/bali-2016-award-winner-regeneration-scheme/
The restored Garden was formally opened by our two local MPs in July 2015. Over the following year, our Heritage Activities Manager, Stephen Lawlor, organised a variety of events in and around the Garden, to encourage families & local people of all ages and backgrounds to come and enjoy their new Garden.
The Flower Garden won four awards in 2016, from London in Bloom, the Civic Trust, the Landscape Institute and BALI (British Association of Landscape Industries).
Grants from Sport England
In 2013 the Friends applied successfully to Sport England for a grant to buy and install two open air table tennis tables, which have proved hugely popular with young and old.
In 2015, we procured another Sport England grant, to create on-site secure storage for football equipment used by the teams who play at weekends on the park extension.
Explaining the park's rich history
With generous support from Lambeth Council and Surrey County Cricket Club, the Friends fundraised, designed and installed a permanent history display in the park’s new ‘history hut’. The history boards were unveiled in December 2021 by local MP, Florence Eshalomi. They celebrate the rich history of the park – from Kings and cricket to Charlie Chaplin and the Chartists, pop stars and parakeets. Make sure you visit next time your are in the park – located here.
Restoring all Kennington Park's historic fountains and artefacts would be prohibitively expensive. But in 2012, the Friends obtained a grant to design and install interpretive signs for each of the park's old fountains and buildings, showing how they looked in their 19th Century heyday.
The Friends have published five booklets about the park's rich history. If you'd like to have a copy, they cost just £1 each, and are available from us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fabulous flower beds
From grant applications and an appeal to members and supporters in 2010-11, the Friends raised £6k to replant the tired old sunken rose beds running parallel to Kennington Park Road. We employed a garden designer to come up with low-maintenance planting that would give colour and variety through the seasons. Volunteers from the Friends worked with Lambeth Parks staff and Roots & Shoots to plant the beds.
The Friends applied to the National Lottery for funding for a Nature Trail in the park, to help children learn more about biodiversity & wildlife. The Trail was officially opened in 2009 by Kate Hoey MP and the Mayor of Lambeth, with a series of workshops for local schools.
Nature Trail Activity Packs are available: email us at email@example.com
Fitness equipment for all
In 2006, overseen by the Friends, Lambeth Council installed a Fitness Trail in Kennington Park. This proved tremendously popular with fitness enthusiasts from near and far, especially the high bars. But over the years, heavy use of the equipment took its toll. So In 2015, we worked with the fitness equipment user group and Lambeth Council to choose new, state-of-the-art equipment to replace the old wooden apparatus.
In response to requests from park users, the Friends successfully applied for a grant from a local charity to install children’s fitness equipment, and a Children's Fitness Trail was installed alongside the adult apparatus. The trail was officially opened by Kate Hoey MP in 2011. Children from local primary schools attended the opening, and put the equipment through its paces.
In 2005, the Friends resolved to install a permanent memorial to the people who were killed in the park in October 1940, when the air raid shelter in the park took a direct hit. The standing stone was funded by Lambeth Special Opportunities Fund. Made of Caithness stone, it was designed and created by local sculptor Richard Kindersley, and bears an inscription from poet, author and historian Maya Angelou. The memorial was unveiled in October 2006 by the Mayor of Lambeth. More than 100 people attended the ceremony, which was covered in the BBC News.
In 2011, we launched an appeal to members & supporters, which funded the cleaning and restoration of the old War memorial at the north end of the park.
A new playground
A survey of park users in 2007 showed that Kennington Park badly needed a new children’s playground. The Friends ran extensive consultations on what local kids wanted to see in their new playground. We raised £240k from the National Lottery and other charities to convert the old tennis courts into the present playground and wildlife area. Both were completed in 2008, and formally opened in Spring 2009.
A few years ago, we raised funds from supporters and members for a replacement Red Bus in the playground. It was installed at the end of 2016. Sadly, it did not weather well, and was replaced by a train at the end of 2020.
We know the the whole playground could do with an overhaul now – it's at the top of our list of priorities and we're working with Lambeth to get it done as soon as possible.
Projects like this take a lot of time and a lot of energy. If you'd like to get involved with the Friends and help us to keep making the park better, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org