A Short History of the Friends of Ellington Park
ELLINGTON PARK would have disappeared as urban development had the Ramsgate Corporation not purchased it for £12,000 in 1892 for “public walks and pleasure gardens”. The Park was carefully laid out by the famous landscape gardener, Joseph Cheal & Sons, and old photographs show a glorious park with glades of trees, a balustraded terrace, and bandstand and steps descending to an ornate fountain. There was an aviary and a pond and a park-keeper. There was seating in abundance where families could sit and enjoy the brilliant floral displays.
Unfortunately, since the end of World War II, (during which, incidentally, a bomb was dropped in Ellington Park on 11th January 1941, throwing up tons of earth) alongside many other parks across the country, this beautiful park fell victim to Government and Council cutbacks and fell into a deep slumber. Almost all of the park’s facilities gradually disappeared – toilets, refreshments, floral displays and a dilapidated bandstand.
In February 2010, two Police Community Support Officers, PCSO Alex Walker and PCSO Paul Hollier, organised a meeting to generate interest in encouraging the public to use Ellington Park as it had become a “no-go” area and needed some attention………the Friends of Ellington Park started then and there! We were later advised that, had we not formed a Friends’ group, the park “could be a building development within 20 years”. We also discovered that the Council had plans to demolish the bandstand.
The park was a blank sheet and, as inexperienced volunteers, the newly formed Committee threw themselves into raising funds to make improvements. Our first May Fayre, somehow organised within a few months of that initial meeting, gave us the profit to install one bench! Since then, all our events proved very popular and, thanks to public generosity, we managed to install four more benches and match funded grants to provide a fitness trail, a table tennis table and tree carvings.
The public voted for Ellington Park in their thousands when we applied for Big Lottery money for a wildlife garden through ITV’s People’s Millions and, despite stiff opposition, we won! The wild area was finished in 2014 and provides a safe haven for wildlife and a peaceful spot to sit and reflect on the beauty that is Ellington Park.
Fast forward a few more years and, just before the pandemic struck, after years of struggle, the Friends, with support from the Ramsgate Society, and led by Thanet District Council, received £1.8million from the Heritage Lottery fund to re-instate the toilets, kiosk and to renovate the bandstand. Despite the numerous difficulties, both financial and building-wise during the pandemic of 2020, Ellington Park now proudly has the most beautiful bandstand, toilets, café and a new children’s play area.
There is deep affection for Ellington Park locally and this has been demonstrated over the years by the over-whelming support that the Friends receive from the whole community. There have been too many fabulous gestures to mention.