Some might think that an odd title seeing as the gardens were only created during the 1930’s, but if you’re fan of good old Tony Robinson and Time Team, you’ll know that sometimes it’s easier to research, read and know more about centuries ago than it is our more recent history!
Radipole park and gardens were created during the 1930’s, a period between two World Wars, also a period of austerity and high unemployment.
Schemes had been set up by the government of the day to enable councils to take advantage of cheap rate loans to employ many of those men and women who were unable to find work.
Weymouth council decided the best scheme would be to reclaim land from the Backwater (which provided no income to their coffers and the plague of many annoying mosquitos.) Upon this extra land would be created a series of parks and gardens for the residents and visitors alike (which had the added bonus of not only providing unskilled work for many of the unemployed but also bringing in some revenue to the town.)
The first of the gardens to be created after the opening of the new Embankment Bridge now known as Westham Bridge (it actually looks quite stately here not lost in a maze of surrounding roads and signage.)
…was Melcombe Regis gardens with its immaculate bowling greens
and tennis courts (notice old Melcombe Regis station in the background.)
Many a famous player stepped onto these courts and wowed their audience with dazzling displays of their skills.
Of course, the one lasting memory most Weymouth residents have of these gardens was the wonderful wooden rose arch over its crazy paving pathway and the glasshouse where all the bedding plants came from for the parks displays.
But as fashions changed, so did the gardens, tennis became less popular and up popped other various amusements for the parks patrons.
Who remembers this?
Unfortunately little is left of these small but much loved gardens apart from their still immaculate bowling green.
After the completion of Melcombe Regis gardens came the creation of Radipole gardens in the 1930’s, again on reclaimed land from the Backwater.
Now, for some reason I could never fully understand there are far fewer postcards, images or photos of this beautiful park and gardens.
In fact I would go as far as to say there’s hardly any at all!
And this is precisely where the comment I made at the beginning comes in, there are far more 19th century images of Weymouth’s Alexandra gardens in my collections than 20th century photos of Radipole gardens.
Was it that hardly any photographers of the day thought it worthy of postcard status?
Where’s the all singing all dancing adverts in the holiday guides for its putting green that used to sit beneath Radipole’s willows?
Anyone else remember playing this?
The Radipole exhibition tennis courts got a mention or two when the super stars of the day were doing their rounds.
Weymouth museum came forwards with a few from their collection of the play park and its infamous paddling pool taken post WWII.
So come on folks, surely there must be more photos out there…we’d love to see them.
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