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Wardown Park is situated on the River Lea in Luton. The park has various sporting facilities, is home to the Wardown Park Museum and contains formal gardens. The park is located between Old Bedford Road and the A6, New Bedford Road and is within walking distance of the town centre.
|Location||Luton, Bedfordshire, England|
|Operated by||Luton Borough Council|
|Status||Open all year|
The area that became Wardown Park was a farmhouse and country residence in the 1800s. The park itself started out as a private estate owned by Richard How. Richard's son, Robert built the first property within the park, called Bramingham Shott, which still stands and now houses the museum.
In the early 1870s the estate was taken over by local solicitor, Frank Chapman-Scargill, he rebuilt much of the earlier house in 1879 for a total cost of £10,000. Scargill left Luton and the house and property was let to J Forder who renamed the estate Wardown. Frank Chapman's last surviving son (Jasper Chapman Scargill) died in Ireland 22 October 2012 at the age of 97 (93 years after the death of his father).
By 1903 the then owners (The Stewart Family, whose famous son, Sir Malcolm Stewart, founded the London Brick Company) decided to sell the house and 11-acre (45,000 m2) park, and placed the property up for sale with an asking price of £17,000. The property was not sold, and in 1904 local councillors Asher Hucklesby and Edwin Oakley purchased the property for £16,250 on behalf of Luton council. Hucklesby went on to become Mayor of Luton.
Over the next few years extensive improvements were implemented, many new trees were planted, as well as new footpaths and bridges being constructed. The layout of the park today is very much as it was in this period. A bowling green was built in 1905, reputed to be the first in Luton.
It was Hucklesby's dream that the house would become a museum that would be 'interesting as well as of an educational nature'. Unfortunately, the house itself had been neglected and suffered from dry rot, Luton council could not immediately afford the renovations. It remained empty for several years until it became a military hospital during the First World War. After the war, rooms were let to council employees with a cafe opening on the ground floor. The museum opened in 1930, having moved from the Carnegie library where it started in 1927. At first the museum displays were held in just two rooms, but over the years it has filled the entire house. The museum is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10am to 5pm and Sundays from 1 to 5pm. Admission is free.
At the centre of the park is a lake, formed by widening the River Lea during the development of the park in the Victorian era. The lake contains a small island which is not accessible to the public, and is home to various waterfowl, such as swans, ducks and geese. At the end of the lake closest to the town centre is a large fountain. Adjacent to the lake is the recently (2005–06) refurbished children's play park.
During World War II, the nearby Bedford Vehicles Dunstable plant need to waterproof test the trucks that it was building for the British Army in preparation for D-Day. So with permission, it drove them through the lake instead of building a specific test tank.
After WW2, the lake was extended to form an open-air swimming pool, which was in use until the 1950s. Boating on the lake was then introduced, and until the boat-man retired in 2004 you could hire a row-boat in the summer.
Daisy Chain wallEdit
The Daisy Chain wall is one of the park's most significant design features, named because of the attractive brick pattern that features along the length of the wall.
Believed to have been built around 1905, the wall was part of the original gardens of Wardown House before it was made into a public park. The condition of the Daisy Chain Wall had deteriorated over the years until many of its features were damaged and destroyed, however with extensive re-construction the wall now appears as it did one hundred years ago. The wall separates the main park from the pleasure garden, which was formerly an ornamental garden containing trees such as giant redwoods and an avenue of limes.
The wall runs alongside part of the Daisy Chain Walk, a path connecting the main park with the bowling green, bowling pavilion and the east side of the tennis courts.
The restoration of Wardown Park was completed in June 2005, using one million pounds of lottery funding, by the local council as well as the work and contributions of local people. The council and the Friends of Wardown Park, have replaced the old refreshment kiosk with a building mirroring the design of the boathouse. Across the lake from the kiosk is the original boathouse which also underwent restoration with the rest of the buildings of the park. At the same time the Edwardian Daisy Chain wall and drinking fountain were restored using the original designs and old photographs. The drinking fountain is an exact replica of the original based on a photograph from 1907 on display in the museum, however it is a non-working replica.
|Establishment||1906 (first recorded match)|
|As of 25 July 2010|
Source: Ground profile
The first recorded match played on the cricket ground came in 1906, when Bedfordshire played Buckinghamshire, in the grounds first Minor Counties Championship match. From 1906 to present, the ground has hosted 122 Minor Counties Championship matches and 4 MCCA Knockout Trophy matches.
The cricket ground has played host List A matches, he first of which came in the 1967 Gillette Cup between Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. From 1967 to 2005, the ground hosted 38 List A matches spread between Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and a combined Minor Counties cricket team. The ground has also played host to a single Twenty20 match between Northamptonshire and Worcestershire in 2004 Twenty20 Cup.
- Luton Council website Archived 9 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- "Vauxhall's history in Luton". BBC News. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- "Tank Testing on the lake during WWII". Lutonmodelboat.co.uk. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
- "Minor Counties Championship Matches played on Wardown Park". Cricketarchive.com. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
- "Minor Counties Trophy Matches played on Wardown Park". Cricketarchive.com. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
- "First-Class Matches played on Wardown Park". Cricketarchive.com. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
- "List-A Matches played on Wardown Park". Cricketarchive.com. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
- "Twenty20 Matches played on Wardown Park". Cricketarchive.com. 5 July 2004. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
- "Luton Town and Indians Cricket Club". Lticc.net. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
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