Westgate Parks are four distinctly different landscape character areas. Together they form a delightful stretch of recreational land which follows the Great Stour river from the heart of Canterbury’s busy city centre into the countryside.
You can start to enjoy the riverside walks from the medieval Westgate Towers. They begin in picturesque formal gardens and wind through picnic sites and a children’s play area to water meadows and an ancient nature reserve island.
- Westgate Gardens – once the splendid home and gardens of a notable Canterbury family. The area can be traced back to the Roman occupation of 2,000 years ago, and beyond.
- Toddlers Cove – once Canterbury’s water park with swimming, paddling and boating pools and possibly the site of Roman occupation. It is now a starting – or finishing – point for the Great Stour Way, a three mile path for walkers and cyclists.
- Tannery Field, a riverside meadow and woodland beside Rheims Way.
- Bingley Island Local Nature Reserve where there is evidence that Stone Age men and women once walked.
Together these sites amount to 12 hectares of historic riverside parkland – enough space for about 15 football pitches.
Between 2013-2018. A 5 year Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) scheme led by Canterbury City Council.
What we did
KSCP delivered the Community Development part of the HLF scheme. We employed a Project Officer, a role that became two part-time Project Officers during the course of the project. We had a budget of £250,000 of the total budget of £1 million pounds to deliver most of the Activity Plan within the Project. Here is some of the work completed:
- Set up a series of events and conservation tasks prior to the start of the HLF project and helped to establish the Friends of Westgate Parks.
- Helped with the consultation on the new play area and provided feedback to the City Council on the Play Area.
- Set up an annual events programme with 92 events, attracting 23,176 visitors. This included the once a year event day in June that had attendances of 2-3 thousand people. We also transformed the two underpasses by producing community murals; commissioned a sculpture of a bull in Tannery Field; helped with the production of entrance signs and interpretative panels ; produced the Explorer Trail brochure and on site metal rubbings; a Tree Trail leaflet; and a Westgate Parks leaflet; See Westgate Parks Interpretation.
- Established the “Wild About Westgate” programme offering school visits for all ages and abilities.
- Set up numerous community projects, one being the Physic Garden: see Physic Garden .
- Undertook conservation tasks with volunteers including the creation of a wildflower meadow, a pond, the planting of a hedgerow and trees, and riverside bank improvements through Westgate Gardens and Toddlers Cove.
- Carried out surveys of wildlife including river invertebrates, beetles on Bingley Island, butterflies and birds.
- Undertook visitor surveys prior to, during, and after the HLF project. 83% of event attendees found the events highly enjoyable.
As a sign of the site’s improved management Westgate Parks obtained its Green Flag award in 2017 and continues to achieve this annually.
The Education Programme continues in the form of Anna Outdoors, an independent company offering Early years, Key stages 1,2,3,4 & 5 education and Forest School for all ages.
The Friends of Westgate Parks continue to run a small number of events and help to maintain the Parks and became a Trust in 2018.
KSCP continue to run conservation volunteering tasks.
The Parks are now a safer, more pleasant space to be in.
Who we worked with
Canterbury City Council, Friends of Westgate Parks, local community groups, schools and colleges, Canterbury Archaeological Trust, the Umbrella Centre and local businesses.