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    BOOKS AND PUBLICATIONS Welcome to my section on books. I started writing back in 2011 after wanting to do for several years. Bandstands was published later that year followed by books on several on the Royal Parks - Regent's Park; Richmond Park; and Hyde Park. I have enjoyed writing them all and especially proud of them. The buzz of seeing yourself in print is amazing and finding one of your books in a bookshop is even better. More books to come? oh yes. I have several others in the pipeline to start thinking about. I still think there is a novel in me somewhere, but keeping that idea secret but a working title called "From Graceland to Grimsby' My Amazon author profile is also here #1 Bandstands Bandstands Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher: Shire Publishing Year : 2011 Bandstands are a distinctive feature of public parks and seaside promenades all over Britain. But what do we actually know about them? Why did they appear in our earliest parks? When were they erected, and who made them? This book explores and provides answers to these questions, showing how the bandstand evolved from the buildings of the early Pleasure Gardens, how they appeared in nearly every public park of the time, how its design was influenced by the great landscape designers, and how a very small number of Scottish foundries cornered the market across the world, from Bradford to Brazil. From parks, seaside resorts and civic spaces, bandstands have appeared and disappeared - but are once again re-appearing, being restored and enjoying a new lease of life. This book, is a timely reminder of an essential component of the British park. NOW OUT OF PRINT BUT CAN BE FOUND ON ABE BOOKS - LINK HERE #2 Regent's Park - From Tudor Hunting Ground to the Present Regents Park - From Tudor Hunting Ground to the Present (also available in Paperback) Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher: Amberley Publishing (Hardback and Paperback) Year : 2013 The Regent's Park has a history stretching back through seven centuries, well before the designer and architectural genius John Nash and his patron the Prince Regent laid it out at the beginning of the nineteenth century as the first of the improvements they had planned for London. The book recounts the story of the park from its origins as a tiny part of the Middlesex Forest to the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when it became Henry VIII's hunting ground, to its subsequent development in the nineteenth century as London's new West End. This comprehensive history of one of the United Kingdom's most popular outdoor spaces also takes into account the wider history of Britain and its public parks. " A fascinating read " - Toby Musgrave, Garden Historian and Author A wonderful review from Land Love Magazine too. Land Love Regent's Park Review AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE #3 London's Royal Parks London's Royal Parks Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher: Shire Publishing Year: 2014 London’s royal parks are among its most beautiful and beloved spaces: just as much as the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace or St Pancras Station, the mere mention of Hyde or Regent’s Park is enough to evoke the capital in all its glory for residents and tourists alike. They have a grand history – some were royally owned as far back as the Norman conquest, others were acquired by Henry VIII during the Reformation – and since being opened to the public during the eighteenth century, they have hosted some of London’s great events, including the Great Exhibition and innumerable jubilees and celebrations. This book tells the story of all eight of the parks from the point when they were acquired by the monarchy until the present day, including the major historic moments and events with which they are associated. AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE #4 Richmond Park - From Medieval Pasture to Royal Park Richmond Park - From Medieval Pasture to Royal Park Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher: Amberley Publishing Year: 2014 (hardback); 2016 (paperback) Richmond Park is the largest Royal Park in London, covering an area of 2,500 acres. From its heights there is an uninterrupted view of St Paul’s Cathedral, 12 miles away. The royal connections to this park probably go back further than any of the others, beginning with Edward I in the thirteenth century, when the area was known as the Manor of Sheen. The name was changed to Richmond during Henry VII’s reign. In 1625 Charles I brought his court to Richmond Palace to escape the plague in London and turned it into a park for red and fallow deer. His decision, in 1637, to enclose the land was not popular with the local residents, but he did allow pedestrians the right of way. To this day the walls remain. In 1847 Pembroke Lodge became the home of the then Prime Minister, Lord John Russell, and was later the childhood home of his grandson, Bertrand Russell. However, Richmond Park emerges from its historical record as a place that has seen many changes in fabric and detail and yet remains the embodiment of a medieval deer park. It is a palimpsest, retaining subtle clues to each period in its history. " Erudite and informative....celebrates the unique appeal of Richmond Park.... its rich and colourful history chronicled here in comprehensive detail. " - The Good Book Guide June 2014 AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE #5 Bandstands of Britain Bandstands of Britain Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher: The History Press Ltd Year: 2014 Bandstands of Britain is a historical celebration of one of the best-loved features still found in many of our Victorian parks, open spaces, squares and seaside towns. They are a reminder of a forgotten age of outdoor music and theatre. They act as a lingering memory of the class and sophistication that prevailed in the Victorian age. This book celebrates the bandstand in Britain – showcasing the elaborate and iconic pieces of Victorian architecture for what they are. Beautiful full-colour images are accompanied by a potted history of the evolution and devolution of the British bandstand. AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE #6 Cassiobury - The Ancient Seat of the Earls of Essex Cassiobury - The Ancient Seat of the Earls of Essex Authors: Paul Rabbitts and Sarah Priestley Publisher: Amberley Publishing Year: 2014 (hardback); 2017 (Paperback) One of the remnants of the great lost estates of the United Kingdom, Cassiobury Park is now the largest park in Hertfordshire and the principal park of its primary town, Watford, covering an area twice the size of Hyde Park in London. But this is no ordinary town park, nor is it a park that stems from the Victorian age. In 1661, Arthur, 2nd Baron Capel, was made the Earl of Essex, and by 1668/69 he had moved to Cassiobury permanently. Celebrated landscape gardener Moses Cook was commissioned here. By 1707, Cassiobury was a significant estate, and Charles Bridgman was employed at Cassiobury in the 1720s. In 1800, the 5th Earl of Essex employed James Wyatt to rebuild the house. Humphrey Repton was employed at Cassiobury and the landscape was captured by J. M. W. Turner in a number of paintings. By 1881, there were many deer in the park, often traded with the royal deer parks at Richmond, Bushy and Windsor Great Park. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the decline was ob vious, with large areas of the park sold off to the Watford Borough Council for public parkland. By 1921, the lease was surrendered and in 1927 Cassiobury House was demolished. Much of the remaining land was bought by the council and became further parkland for the ever growing Cassiobury housing estate and expanding Borough of Watford. This book tells the significant story of a remarkable estate, family and parkland and has never been told before. AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE OR DIRECT FROM THE AUTHOR - PLEASE EMAIL ME #7 Hyde Park - The People's Park Hyde Park - The People's Park Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher : Amberley Publishing Year: 2015 Hyde Park is a London favourite. You can walk, lie in the grass, play games, take exercise, and engage in sport. It has been a park for mass celebrations since VE Day, for public events including Proms in the Park and Olympic events and has held countless music festivals. There is a truly fascinating history behind the park we know today and the neighbouring Kensington Gardens. Just under 500 years ago Hyde Park began. On 1 July 1536, Henry VIII compelled the Convent of Westminster to hand over land that he then enclosed for hunting purposes. It was not until the reign of Charles I that the people of London were allowed access to Hyde Park. Sold by Parliament in 1652, beset by highwaymen when the village of Kensington became home to much of the aristocracy, partially appropriated by George II to make Kensington Gardens - Hyde Park has a dramatic past. It was, however, the Great Exhibition that was to have the greatest impact on Hyde Park throughout its history. The world came to Hyde Park. As many as 100,000 visitors at a time occupied the Exhibition. It became London's central attraction and remains London's greatest open space and is truly a People's Park and, without a doubt, one of the greatest places to visit in London. A 25,000 word history on London's greatest park, with over 150 images, old and new, telling its story from its origins as a Tudor hunting ground, seized by Henry VIII to the greatest public park in London, tracing its social history in particular. This is the first book on Hyde Park since the late 1930s and is now long overdue. OUT OF PRINT BUT AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE AT ABE BOOKS #8 Great British Parks - A Celebration Great British Parks: A Celebration Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher: Amberley Publishing Year: 2016 Our great British parks are one of the finest legacies of the Victorian age. Many of our high streets, town halls and public buildings are fitting reminders of this long-lost era, but public parks are one which many of us still enjoy on a daily basis. Designed and delivered to the working masses as part of a move towards rational and ordered recreation, the public park came to symbolise one of the greatest gifts of the Victorian age.Today they remain outdoor areas for everyone to enjoy, regardless of social background, acting as children's play areas, sports grounds and even concert venues. Public parks were created in increasing numbers from the middle years of the nineteenth century, yet towards the end of the twentieth century many of them had become sadly neglected. As a result of an incredible amount of work by many, including the Keep Britain Tidy initiative and the Heritage Lottery Fund, a change towards regeneration and rejuvenation was made. In 1996 the Urban Parks Programme was established; this eventually became the Parks for People Programme and has seen an investment of nearly £700 million in our great British parks from Paxton s People s Park in Halifax, to Hammond s Pond in Carlisle. 'Great British Parks a Celebration' explores some of our most outstanding public spaces, of interest to everyone who uses and appreciates them, and pays tribute to the many park teams, local authorities, grant-giving bodies and individuals who have managed, maintained, restored and looked after our public parks yesterday, today and tomorrow. AS REVIEWED IN THE DAILY MAIL HERE Is there anything more enjoyable than whiling away an afternoon strolling around a park? We picnic and party in them and our capital city is 40 per cent green space - so this celebration is long overdue. Full of stunning pictures that capture the UK’s love affair with a pretty patch of pasture, this brilliant little book showcases everything from carnivals to bandstands and monuments hidden within the gates of some of the loveliest parks in Britain. Leafing through the pages will make you want to whip out a boater, a walking stick and a ham sandwich - just don’t forget your umbrella. Daily Mail 29th July 2016 AS REVIEWED BY FIELDS IN TRUST HERE In his latest book Paul Rabbitts too recognises our Victorian benefactors who set the pattern for what has become known and widely loved as the British park. But this is no simple story - encompassing as it does social, economic and political history, sport and recreation, landscape design, architecture, sculpture, the urban environment... and, of course, bandstands. Paul Rabbitts says his book has two distinct purposes; as the title suggests this is a celebration of all that is great about British parks; but it also contains a stark warning about how parks are currently facing a deep funding crisis and are under threat from loss to redevelopment. The celebratory aspect is well presented with glorious photography - both archive and contemporary. But throughout the book there is an understanding that parks have an important impact on the communities who use them. Overall this is a thoroughly entertaining and insightful book about the UK's parks. OUT OF PRINT BUT AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE ON ABE BOOKS OR DIRECT FROM THE AUTHOR - EMAIL ME #9 Cassiobury Park - The Postcard Collection Cassiobury Park, Watford - The Postcard Collection Authors: Paul Rabbitts and Sarah Priestley Publisher: Amberley Publishing Year: April 2017 Cassiobury Park has an incredible history. Not only is it one of the remnants of the greatest lost estates in the country, Cassiobury Park is now one of the most popular parks in the country and locally is the largest park in Hertfordshire, and the principal park of its primary town, Watford. It covers an impressive area which is twice the size of Hyde Park in London. In 1661, Arthur Capel, was made the Earl of Essex and in time moved to Cassiobury. The Capels had a major impact on Cassiobury. By 1800, the 5th Earl of Essex employed noted and respected architect James Wyatt to rebuild his house. Successive landscape gardeners were employed here, from Moses Cook to Humphry Repton, with the landscape captured by J. M. W. Turner on visits to Cassiobury. By 1881, the parkland was already well established with fine trees, woodland walks, with many deer in the park, often traded with the royal deer parks at Richmond, Bushy and Windsor Great Park. By the beginning of the twentieth century, decline had set in and large areas of the park had been sold off to Watford Borough Council for public parkland – the beginnings of the public park we know today. Cassiobury Park - The Postcard Collection takes the reader on an evocative journey into the park’s rich past through a selection of old postcards which offer a fascinating window into its history and continuing development. AVAILABLE HERE OR DIRECT FROM THE PUBLISHER - PLEASE EMAIL ME #10 British Bandstands British Bandstands Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher: Amberley Publishing Year: 2017 Bandstands have been a feature of the British way of life for well over a century but after the Second World War an increasing number fell into disuse and were neglected. Sadly, many were demolished as public parks and seaside resorts went into a spiral of decline in the 1980s and 1990s. However, in 1997 the Heritage Lottery Fund started investing in our public parks and gardens and this has seen the rediscovery of bandstands which has continues to this day. Former Director of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Dr Stewart Harding has described them as ‘wonderfully exotic structures that are at once very familiar and also alien in their strange designs - looking like UFOs, Moorish temples, rustic cottages or Chinese pavilions’. Many have been restored in the last 20 years, over 120 funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, from Aberdeen to Aberystwyth, Nairn to Nottingham, Watford to Worcester. These restorations mark a rebirth of the British Bandstand and this is celebrated in this book with imaginative restorations, designs and new usage for one of our most iconic British landmarks – the British bandstand. AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE # 11 Sir Christopher Wren Sir Christopher Wren Author: Paul Rabbitts. Photographs by Peter Jeffree Publisher: Shire Publishing Date: February 2019 Wren was an English scientist and mathematician and one of Britain's most distinguished architects, best known for the design of many London churches, including St Paul's Cathedral. Christopher Wren was born on 20 October 1632 in East Knoyle, Wiltshire, where his father was rector. His father later moved to Windsor and Wren was educated at Westminster School and then Oxford University. He showed an early talent for mathematics and enjoyed inventing things, including an instrument for writing in the dark and a pneumatic machine. In 1657, Wren was appointed professor of astronomy at Gresham College in London and four years later, professor of astronomy at Oxford. In 1662, he was one of the founding members of the Royal Society, along with other mathematicians, scientists and scholars, many of whom were his friends. Wren's interest in architecture developed from his study of physics and engineering. In 1664 and 1665, Wren was commissioned to design the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford and a chapel for Pembroke College, Cambridge and from then on, architecture was his main focus. In 1665, Wren visited Paris, where he was strongly influenced by French and Italian baroque styles. In 1666, the Great Fire of London destroyed much of the medieval city, providing a huge opportunity for Wren. He produced ambitious plans for rebuilding the whole area but they were rejected, partly because property owners insisted on keeping the sites of their destroyed buildings. Wren did design 51 new city churches, as well as the new St Paul's Cathedral. In 1669, he was appointed surveyor of the royal works which effectively gave him control of all government building in the country. He was knighted in 1673. In 1675, Wren was commissioned to design the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. In 1682, he received another royal commission, to design a hospital in Chelsea for retired soldiers, and in 1696 a hospital for sailors in Greenwich. Other buildings include Trinity College Library in Cambridge (1677 - 1692), and the facade of Hampton Court Palace (1689 - 1694). Wren often worked with the same team of craftsmen, including master plasterer John Groves and wood carver Grinling Gibbons Wren died on 25 February 1723. His gravestone in St Paul's Cathedral features the Latin inscription which translates as: 'If you seek his memorial, look about you.' AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE #12 Decimus Burton - Gentleman Architect Decimus Burton - Gentleman Architect Publisher: Lund Humphries Author: Paul Rabbitts Date: December 2021 A contemporary of Soane, Nash and Pugin, Decimus Burton (1800–1881) was one of the most prolific architects of his day and is best known for his work in London's Royal Parks, including: the Wellington Arch and the Serpentine pavilion in Hyde Park; villas and terraces in Regent's Park and the London Zoo; the Temperate house at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; and the layout and architecture of the seaside towns of Fleetwood and St Leonards-on-Sea, and the spa town of Tunbridge Wells. Other projects include the Atheneum Club, Pall Mall, Adelaide Crescent in Brighton, and Phoenix Park in Dublin. Despite his success, very little is known about Burton and he is often overshadowed by the other architects of the time. This may in part be because he moved from a neo-classical style of architecture to a rather less rigorous form of Gothic than that adopted by his critic, A.N.W. Pugin. And it may also be due to the fact that, as the son of a successful builder and developer, he did not receive the formal architectural training of many of his contemporaries. This book is the first to fully examine Burton and his complete works, from his early years and his father’s influence, through his apprenticeship with John Nash, his works in private practice and his growing reputation, through to his exploits in town planning and glass houses. This is set within a fascinating social and political context which showed how these influenced which buildings, builders and architects were commissioned and factors of what made a project successful. There are stories of conflict and heated dispute amongst the key players which paint a vivid portrait of the architectural profession and construction industry during this period. It reappraises his legacy and summarises his significant achievements and reveals how he contributed to the birth of the picturesque style that was to develop into the Arts & Crafts movement. 'Burton was a prolific designer of significant structures, both public and private. He certainly deserved to have a monograph, and Rabbitts’s is thorough and well illustrated.' - Peter Howell, The Art Newspaper, March 2022 AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE #13 Leighton Buzzard in 50 Buildings Leighton Buzzard in 50 Buildings Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher: Amberley Publishing Date: March 2019 Leighton Buzzard is a thriving market town with over 40,000 residents and has been identified as an area of further significant growth. It is already the largest town in Central Bedfordshire but growth has had a major impact on the town. New estates are growing and periphery shopping options are being developed. Traffic is the single biggest issue in the town as the infrastructure struggles to cope with such rapid growth. But there are positive benefits with unemployment negligible, crime rates low and many opportunities in the town centre with its still flourishing market, growing number of restaurants and what seems to be a weekly addition to the number of hair salons. Among it all, the town retains much of its Gothic, Georgian, Greek, Italianate, Rustic, and Victorian architecture while the town embraces new and more contemporary buildings to serve its growing population. This book celebrates some of its wonderful architecture - from All Saints Church to the former police station where Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs was held to new architecture that is now modernising the town. "An excellent book giving quirky history of 50 Buzzard Buildings. It does what it says on the cover" Amazon review 27 May 2019 AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE #14 Watford in 50 Buildings Watford in 50 Buildings Authors: Paul Rabbitts and Peter Jeffree Publisher: Amberley Publishing Date: September 15th 2019 The town of Watford, in Hertfordshire, began as a settlement in the twelfth century when the Abbot of St Albans, who owned the land here, was given permission to hold a weekly market. He chose a site on a slight rise above the ford over the River Colne, along a route already used by travellers. The abbot also arranged for the first parish church - St Mary’s - to be built adjacent to the market. In the Domesday Book there is no mention of Watford. The area of the current town and the land around it belonged to the abbot's manor of Cashio (later Cassio) and it continued to be controlled by the abbot until the sixteenth century. A few buildings remain from this period. Other gems are Monmouth House from the seventeeth century; the Free School, Frogmore House, Benskin House (now Watford Museum), Little Cassiobury and Russells from the eighteenth century; and some of the High Street shops. In this book Paul Rabbitts and Peter Jeffree highlight fifty buildings spanning the centuries that reveal Watford’s rich architectural history and tell the story of the changing face of this Hertfordshire town. AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE OR DIRECT FROM THE AUTHOR - PLEASE EMAIL ME #15 Manchester in 50 Buildings Manchester in 50 Buildings Authors: Deborah Woodman and Paul Rabbitts Publisher: Amberley Publishing Date : November 15th 2019 From its status as the world's first industrialized city, through late 20th-century decline and subsequent regeneration and rebirth as 'Second City of the UK', Manchester has a proud and distinctive identity. This extraordinary history is embodied in the buildings that have shaped the city. Manchester in 50 Buildings explores the history of this rich and vibrant urban centre through a selection of its greatest architectural treasures. From Victorian classics such as the neo-Gothic Town Hall to the striking new additions to the city's skyline, such as Beetham Tower, this unique study celebrates the city's architectural heritage in a new and accessible way. Authors Deborah Woodman and Paul Rabbitts guide the reader on a tour of the city’s historic buildings and modern architectural marvels. AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE #16 Luton in 50 Buildings Luton in 50 Buildings Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher: Amberley Publishing Date: February 15th 2020 The Bedfordshire town of Luton originated in the sixth century when the Saxons established a farm or settlement (called a tun ) by the River Lea. Farming and agriculture became the major industries, while the local market brought in people from the surrounding villages. The hat-making industry dominated the town from the seventeenth until the twentieth century, while in 1905 Vauxhall Motors opened there, followed by the airport in 1938. Although car manufacturing ceased in 2002, the town continues to prosper with a growing population and much redevelopment taking place. In Luton in 50 Buildings author Paul Rabbitts looks at how the town s buildings and landmarks, both old and new, reflect its long and fascinating history. Among the places featured are some of the town s historic churches, inns and residences, the town hall and the Kenilworth Road football ground. Also featured are Luton Central Mosque, the expanding airport and the stately home of Luton Hoo, originally designed by Robert Adam in the eighteenth century for the 3rd Earl of Bute. Each of these structures and landmarks has its own stories to tell, as well as documenting a significant aspect of Luton s social, cultural and industrial heritage. AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE #17 Windsor & Eton in 50 Buildings Windsor & Eton in 50 Buildings Authors: Paul Rabbitts and Rob Ickinger Publisher: Amberley Publishing Date: November 15th 2019 Today, millions of tourists from around the world are drawn to Windsor by its magnificent castle, dating from the eleventh century, and its wealth of royal history. Although the castle is at the heart of the town, this book reveals there are many more notable architectural gems - both ancient and modern - to be discovered there. For the visitors who come to Windsor, many will venture across its nineteenth-century bridge to explore its smaller neighbouring town of Eton, famous for its College, on the opposite side of the River Thames. In ‘Windsor and Eton in 50 Buildings’, authors Paul Rabbitts and Rob Ickinger takes readers on an engaging tour to discover 50 buildings and landmarks that capture the immense heritage of the towns, and to show how they have developed across the centuries. Among the places featured are Windsor’s Guildhall, the charming seventeenth-century Crooked House, together with the modern Art Gallery and waterfront apartments. As you would expect for towns in a riverside location, bridges and boathouses are also included. Many of those places featured are of Grade One or Grade Two* listed status, which combine to provide an enriching historical and architectural portrait of two of Berkshire’s favourite towns. AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE #18 Salford in 50 Buildings Salford in 50 Buildings Authors: Carole O'Reilly and Paul Rabbitts Publisher: Amberley Publishing Date: November 15th 2019 In 2018 the city of Salford is a very different city. It covers 37 square miles and is made up of five districts: Salford, Eccles, Worsley, Irlam and Cadishead, and Swinton and Pendlebury. Some 220,000 people are proud to call Salford their home and is a city constantly changing and moving into an exciting future as a thriving cultural, economic and residential location. From urban buzz to greenbelt tranquility, Salford is building on the mixture of its waterfront, urban and countryside environments to create places where people want to live, work, invest and visit. Its more modern buildings reflect this change with iconic buildings appearing such as the Lowry Theatre and the Salford Quays. The city celebrates its Victorian heritage as well as embraces the future with stunning new architecture - all celebrated in this new book. AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE #19 Grinling Gibbons - Master Carver Grinling Gibbons - Master Carver Author: Paul Rabbitts (Photographs by Peter Jeffree) Publisher : Shire Publishing Date: May 2020 Grinling Gibbons has often been called the ‘British Bernini’. This Baroque artist shared with the great Italian an ability to breathe life into still material. Carefully carved cascades of fruit and flowers, faces of cherubs with puffed out cheeks, crowds of figures and flourishes of architecture – a tumultuous world of pure energy and animation tumbles from the hands of Gibbons to grace stately homes and royal palaces across the country. Where Bernini worked with marble, however, Gibbons was a wood-carver. Because we've forgotten the long history of sculpture in wood, this tends to get him described as a craftsman. A more apt description however would be the ‘Michelangelo of Wood’. Gibbons work includes St Paul’s Cathedral, Hampton Court Palace, the Sir John Soane’s Museum, V&A to name just a few. From journeyman born in Rotterdam to king’s carver this book celebrates Grinling Gibbons’ unequalled talent, his visionary genius, and his ability to transform the medium of wood into something magical. It explores his development to becoming the country’s most celebrated master-carver, working for the king himself. AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE #20 Bournemouth in 50 Buildings Bournemouth in 50 Buildings Authors: Paul Rabbitts & Liz Gordon Publisher : Amberley Publishing Date: November 2020 Until the early nineteenth century, the area in which Bournemouth now stands was just heathland where cattle grazed. In 1810, Lewis Tregonwell - regarded as the first inhabitant and founder of Bournemouth - visited the beach with his wife. She loved the area and persuaded him to build a house there. He purchased 8½ acres and built a house with cottages for his butler and gardener. Tregonwell later bought more land in the area and landowners planted pines on the heath, but there was no settlement at Bournemouth until 1837. At the end of the eighteenth century, spending time at the seaside became very popular among the rich and middle classes. Many new resorts were built including Brighton, Eastbourne and Bognor Regis. In 1836, Sir George Tapps-Gervis decided to create a seaside resort at Bournemouth. He appointed an architect from Christchurch called Ben Ferrey to design it. Villas were built for families to hire during the summer. Tourism remains an important industry in Bournemouth and in recent years has been complemented by the rise of other sectors such as finance, insurance and digital industries. Bournemouth is a prosperous town with a wealth of accommodation facilities, visitor attractions, bars and restaurants. Its population stands at 197,700. Its current status is reflected in its remaining Victorian and Edwardian architecture but its progressive attitude is also seen in the many modern buildings that have been erected serving the tourist industry and its growing reputation as a centre for learning and finance. AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE #21 People's Parks - The Design and Development of Public Parks in Britain People's Parks - The Design and Development of Public Parks in Britain Author: Hazel Conway; Edited by Paul Rabbitts Publisher : John Hudson Publishing Date: Autumn 2023 This book was originally published in 1991 by Cambridge University Press, written by Dr Hazel Conway, and identifies the main national and international influences on the development of municipal and other public parks in nineteenth-century Britain, relating these influences to the design and use of parks and clarifying the significance of the achievement. Municipal parks made an important contribution to the urban environment, developing within a social, economic and political context which profoundly affected people's attitudes towards recreation. The promoters of parks wanted them to facilitate education and entertainment, and they reflected this in their design, buildings, statues, bandstands and planting. Towards the end of the century, disused inner-city burial grounds were transformed into the open space much needed for public recreation. There are detailed sections on park development, design and use, a summary of main relevant legislation, and a chronological gazetteer of the earliest municipal and other public parks, with details of their size and how they were created and the name of their designer. The book is fully illustrated with contemporary plans, photographs and lithographs. This book is now out of date and impossible to get hold of. Since the sad passing of Hazel in December 2017, the time has come to update this iconic and milestone book and the wonderful Zara Conway, Hazel's daughter is supporting this venture. I considered how best to do this and looked at a new book from scratch or a re-write of Hazel's book but updated and edited by myself. The latter was preferred primarily because Hazel's book cannot be bettered. Very excited by this one. ​ Review by the Hampshire Gardens Trust in March 2024 stated "This is a serious book: authoritative, extensively researched and highly detailed, whilst at the same time being very readable, richly illustrated and reflecting the passion of the authors for their subject. The history of our People’s Parks deserves its place alongside the gardens of Brown, Repton and Jekyll." Full review here #22 Bandstands: Pavilions for music, entertainment and leisure Bandstands: Pavilions for music, entertainment and leisure Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher : Historic England Date: May 2018 In 1833, the Select Committee for Public Walks was introduced so that `the provision of parks would lead to a better use of Sundays and the replacement of the debasing pleasures.' Music was seen as an important moral influence and `musical cultivation ... the safest and surest method of popular culture', and it was the eventual introduction of the bandstand which became a significant aspect of the reforming potential of public parks. However, the move from the bull baiting of `Merrie England' to the ordered recreation provided by bandstands has never been fully comprehended. Likewise, the extent of changes in leisure and public entertainment and the impact of music at seaside resorts often revolved around the use of seaside bandstands, with the subsequent growth of coastal resorts. Music in public spaces, and the history and heritage of the bandstand has largely been ignored. Yet in their heyday, there were over 1,500 bandstands in the country, in public parks, on piers and seaside promenades attracting the likes of crowds of over 10,000 in the Arboretum in Lincoln, to regular weekday and weekend concerts in most of London's parks up until the beginning of the Second World War. Little is really known about them, from their evolution as `orchestras' in the early Pleasure Gardens, the music played within them, to their intricate and ornate ironwork or art deco designs and the impact of the great foundries, their worldwide influence, to the great decline post Second World War and subsequent revival in the late 1990s. This book tells the story of these pavilions made for music, and their history, decline and revival. ​ #23 Great Parks, Great Designers Great Parks, Great Designers Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher : Amberley Publishing Date: Nov 2017 ​ Much has been written about the history of Victorian life, the Industrial Revolution and the improvements brought about by the great reformers, including the many improvements to recreation and leisure. Public parks were one such introduction and many were laid out from the 1850s onwards and up until the beginning of the Second World War. Joseph Paxton is the most famous of our park designers, along with J. C. Loudon, James Pennethorne, and Thomas Mawson. We know very little of many of these great park designers, and especially the most notable municipal and borough designers such as Sexby, Sandys-Winsch and Pettigrew. These individuals designed some of our greatest parks, in our greatest cities – from Victoria Park and Battersea Park in London, to our much admired royal parks, to Philips Park in Manchester, and the wonderful parks of Norwich, Liverpool, Cardiff and beyond. This book fills in the gaps surrounding these great servants of the public. Included are biographies and histories of Joseph Paxton, James Pennethorne, Edward Milner, John Nash, Decimus Burton, Robert Marnock, William Barron, J. C. Loudon, J. J. Sexby, William Pettigrew, Captain Sandys-Winsch, John Gibson and Thomas H. Mawson. This is an essential read for anybody interested in the great designers of our greatest parks. #24 Parkitecture - Buildings and Monuments of Public Parks Parkitecture - Buildings and Monuments of Public Parks Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher : Amberley Publishing Date: July 2017 What are the ingredients of our great British public parks? We often think of the wider landscape of trees, grass, lakes, meandering footways, bedding displays and herbaceous borders. But they are much more than this. Among the parkitecture featured here are bowling greens; bandstands; gates, railings and boundaries; fountains; glass houses, palm houses, winter gardens and conservatories; refreshments rooms; lodges and pavilions; bridges and boathouses; aviaries; children’s play areas, and statues, memorials and monuments. This book acts as a long overdue celebration of the buildings and monuments of our public parks. #25 London's Royal Parks - The Postcard Collection London's Royal Parks - The Postcard Collection Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher : Amberley Publishing Date: June 2017 The royal parks of London are lands originally owned by the monarchy of the United Kingdom for the recreation (mostly hunting) of the royal family. They are part of the hereditary possessions of the Crown. With the increasing urbanisation of London, some of these were preserved as freely accessible open spaces and became public parks with the introduction of the Crown Lands Act 1851. Today there are eight parks formally described by this name and they cover almost 2,000 hectares of land in Greater London. Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Green Park, Regent’s Park and St James’s Park are the largest green spaces in central London; Bushy Park, Greenwich Park and Richmond Park are in the suburbs. London’s Royal Parks: The Postcard Collection takes the reader on an evocative journey into the past of these much-loved green spaces through a selection of old postcards that offer a fascinating window into their history and continuing development. #26 Salisbury in 50 Buildings Salisbury in 50 Buildings Authors: Paul Rabbitts and Liz Gordon Publisher: Amberley Publishing Date: October 2021 With its magnificent Early English cathedral, timbered buildings and historic houses, Salisbury has a wealth of history and architectural treasures. Its story began 2,500 years ago when an Iron Age fort was built on Salisbury Hill, two miles north of the modern town centre, and developed into the town of Old Sarum. The origins of modern Salisbury (New Sarum) date from 1217 when the Bishop relocated his seat to church-owned land to the south of the hill. Work on the cathedral started in 1220 and, in the years that followed, a thriving town developed. Its woollen cloth industry, together with its location on the road from London to Exeter, brought trade and prosperity here. In this book, authors Paul Rabbitts and Liz Gordon take the reader on an engaging tour of Salisbury’s landmarks and significant buildings from across the centuries. Here are the structures that reveal the history of the town, showing how it developed and telling the story of its people and their way of life. The wide range of structures included range from the cathedral to bridges, almshouses to inns, and cinemas to townhouses. Illustrated throughout, this broad and accessible perspective of Salisbury’s architectural heritage will interest residents and visitors alike. AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE #27 Welwyn and Welwyn Garden City in 50 Buildings Welwyn and Welwyn Garden City in 50 Buildings Authors: Paul Rabbitts and Peter Jeffree Publisher: Amberley Publishing Date : November 2021 Situated a mile from the Hertfordshire village of Welwyn, the Garden City was founded in 1920. It was the vision of Ebenezer Howard, founder of the garden city movement that aimed to combine the benefits of living in a town with those of living in the country. The French-Canadian Louis de Soissons was appointed as architect and planner and ensured the project's success. Welwyn Garden City's historic significance in town and social planning is global, attracting study and visits from tourists and representatives of civic organisations from abroad. It became one of the UK s first new towns in 1948 and its success led to the creation of towns including Harlow, Stevenage and Milton Keynes. Over the decades, it has grown in size and many residents now commute to London and elsewhere. Increasing car usage and other social changes mean that Ebenezer Howard s vision has had to adapt to the demands of modern living. In this book Paul Rabbitts and Peter Jeffree highlight a wide range of buildings and structures, which reveal the history and development of Welwyn and its Garden City neighbour. The latter features one of the finest collections of English domestic architecture of the early twentieth century. Illustrated throughout, Welwyn & Welwyn Garden City in 50 Buildings will appeal to residents, visitors and those interested in the garden city movement. AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE #28 Hertford in 50 Buildings Hertford in 50 Buildings Authors: Paul Rabbitts and Peter Jeffree Publisher: Amberley Publishing Date: September 2023 The River Lea and it's crossing at Hertford lie at the heart of the town's history. Before the Norman Conquest the river formed a natural boundary between the Danelaw to the north and Saxon Wessex to the south. Saxon villages already existed at Bengeo and Hertingfordbury and in 911 and 912 Edward The Elder, son of Alfred The Great, founded two fortified burghs, north and south of the Lee crossing (the ford is believed to about 50 yards downstream of what is now Mill Bridge). Two small towns developed, with two churches - the Saxon St Mary The Less in Old Cross and St Nicholas behind what is now Maidenhead Street. There were also two market places - belieived to be in Old Cross and on the site of The Shire Hall. Following the Norman Conquest, a castle was established at Hertford, together with a priory and a new mill. For the next 300 years, the castle was a royal residence. With the patronage of kings and queens, together with the town's agricultural base, Hertford prospered. In 1628 the castle passed into the ownership of the Earldom of Salisbury and eventually fell into ruin. The only remains of the castle are the original motte, the flint walls and the gatehouse. Hertford Priory was dissolved in the 16th century and the church fell into disrepair. The land on which the Priory stood fell into private hands and became a manor farm. In the late 18th Century the River Lea navigation was cut through the town providing important access to London's corn markets. Because the town was surrounded by agricultural estates it was unable to expand outwards and so expanded upwards by adding storeys to existing buildings. The outward expansion of the town didn't come about until the late 19th Century when the railway came to the town. The Victorian era saw much building in the town as transport links to London improved. Electricity and gas were introduced and industry grew. Hertford is now a thriving and rapidly expanding town with a rich heritage and none more so demonstrated than through its rich architectural heritage. #29 Aylesbury in 50 Buildings Aylesbury in 50 Buildings Authors: Paul Rabbitts Publisher: Amberley Publishing Date: November 2022 Aylesbury, the county town of Buckinghamshire, started as a Saxon settlement called Aegel’s burgh. By medieval times it had developed into an administrative centre, with its weekly market serving as a focal point for surrounding villages. Over the centuries the main industries were lace and silk making, printing and brewing. Its location on various important routes also led to it becoming a coaching town and, during the nineteenth century, it grew most notably with the arrival of the railway. However, it was in the 1950s when Aylesbury experienced its greatest period of growth when it became an overspill town for London. In this book, author Paul Rabbitts features 50 of the buildings and landmarks in the town to reveal the structures that are testament to the history and development of Aylesbury. The chosen buildings are drawn from right across the centuries and reflect diverse architectural styles and purposes from educational and entertainment to residential and religious and many more. By exploring Aylesbury’s architectural heritage in an engaging and accessible way, the author charts the changing face of the town and the places that have played a significant or surprising role in its history. Illustrated throughout, ‘Aylesbury in 50 Buildings’ will be of great interest to residents, visitors and local historians.​ AVAILABLE FOR PRESALE HERE #30 Dunstable in 50 Buildings Dunstable in 50 Buildings Author : Paul Rabbitts Publisher: Amberley Publishing Date: Oct 2024 Dunstable began as a Roman town. Long before the Romans came to Britain there was a track called the Icknield Way, which cross the middle of England. In the 2nd century the Romans built a road called Watling Street, which crossed Icknield Way at the point where Dunstable stands today. The Romans built a posting station where travelers could change their horses. A little market town grew up at the crossroads. Dunstable flourished though it would have been very small with a population of no more than 1,000. Dunstable had a market and it also had fairs. A fair was like a market but was held only once a year for a few days. People would come from as far away as London to buy and sell at the fairs. In 1213 Dunstable suffered a disastrous fire. In those days, most buildings were of wood with thatched roofs so a fire was a constant hazard. On the other hand, wooden buildings could be easily rebuilt if they burned. The prosperity of Dunstable was based on wool. Sheep grazed in the nearby hills and their wool was woven into cloth in Dunstable. In 1123 King Henry built a royal residence at Dunstable. He also founded a priory (a small monastery) in 1131. The king granted the prior control of the town. However, he had already promised the townspeople the same freedoms as the citizens of London. As a result, there were endless arguments over who ran Dunstable, the prior or the merchants. However, Dunstable priory did bring some benefits to the town. In the Middle Ages people went on long journeys called pilgrimages. Some traveled to Dunstable Priory to see holy relics there. The pilgrims spent money in the town adding to its prosperity. In 1533 Archbishop Cramner announced the divorce of Henry VIII from Catherine of Aragon in the Priory church. Henry VIII closed the priory in 1539. Local people helped themselves to stone for building. However, the closure of the priory led to the decline of Dunstable. In the Middle Ages, many pilgrims came to the priory and spent money in the town. Those visitors were now gone. In the 18th century Dunstable was quite prosperous but it was very small. In 1801, at the time of the first census it still only had a population of 1,296. It was hardly larger than it was in the Middle Ages. Despite its small size Dunstable was an important stage coaching town. There had always been people travelling in private coaches but now you could pay to travel in a stagecoach. From 1742 stagecoaches made regular stops in the town and travelers stayed in the inns. Meanwhile lace making and straw hat making boomed in Dunstable boomed. In the early 19th century straw hat making boomed in Dunstable but later in the century it declined. However, at the end of the 19th century, new industries arrived such as printing and engineering. The railway reached Dunstable in 1848 and from then on, the town grew rapidly (although it was still small at the end of the century). In 1901 Dunstable only had a population of 5,157. Dunstable continued to grow rapidly in this century. The old industry of straw-hat making ended in 1931. Brewing also came to an end in this century. However new industries came to replace them. Today the population of Dunstable is 37,000. #31 Tring in 50 Buildings Tring in 50 Buildings Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher: Amberley Publishing Date: Oct 2024 People have lived, farmed and traded in Tring for thousands of years. The Icknield Way, which hugs the Chiltern scarp, is reckoned to be the oldest road in Europe, while the Bulbourne valley provided an obvious route for the Romans heading out west from St Albans. It was almost inevitable that a settlement would grow up here on the well-drained soil, with springs and good sites for wind and water mills. The Manor of Tring, described in the Domesday survey, was to be the dominant influence on the town for centuries. It was held by the Crown and a succession of religious houses, including the Abbey of Faversham, which secured the all-important market charter in 1315. The manor was granted in 1679 to Henry Guy, Groom to the Bedchamber and Clerk of the Treasury to Charles II. Soon afterwards, Colonel Guy built himself a mansion designed by Sir Christopher Wren. He was also responsible for looking after the King's mistress Nell Gwynne, but it is improbable that she ever lived here. Tring also has a close connection with George Washington, the first President of the USA. George's great grandfather, John Washington, was born and brought up in Tring. In the late 19th century the Manor became the home of a branch of the Rothschild family whose influence on the town was considerable. The coming of the Grand Junction Canal in 1799 brought profound changes to this peaceful agricultural place. It took hundreds of "navvies" four years to dig the long, deep cutting needed to cross the Tring gap and four reservoirs were built to maintain the water level. From a wharf at New Mill, coal, bricks and slates came in, while flour and farm produce could be loaded for distant markets. Industry arrived in 1823 when the manor was bought by a northern businessman, William Kay, and a huge silk mill was built in Brook Street employing 600 people, mainly women and children. New housing was built on the western side of Tring, a bank was established by the Butcher family, while John Brown came up from Dorset to buy a brewery and build some handsome pubs to serve the growing population. For many, the family income was supplemented by plaiting straw for the Luton hat trade. In 1835, the London and Birmingham Railway was built alongside the canal. It needed a longer and deeper cutting, so the navvies descended once again and spent their earnings in the local pubs. The railway was never intended to pass through Tring itself nor even to have a station here but local traders petitioned the company to provide one as near as possible. The line opened in 1837 putting London within an hour's journey. Still greater changes came about after 1872 when the Rothschild family added Tring Park to their clutch of local estates. The banker and statesman Nathaniel, later the first Baron Rothschild, set about a radical transformation of Tring over the next 40 years, rebuilding the farms and building new cottages to replace decaying properties in the town. Together with the new Urban District Council he made many improvements, pulling down the old Market House outside the church to create a public open space, remodelling the buildings flanking Mansion Drive and creating a miniature welfare system. A new Market House was built by public subscription to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, while the Rose and Crown was rebuilt along 'reformed' lines for the new Trust House movement. The architect for these and the many new buildings along Western Road was William Huckvale, whose characteristic style with its timber framing, steep roof pitches and ornate chimneys has become something of a local trademark. Among his commissions was the museum built to house the immense zoological collection of Lord Rothschild's eccentric elder son, Walter. At the start of the 20th century Tring was a confident and prosperous place but, as elsewhere, the whole way of life was abruptly changed by the Great War of 1914-18, in which large numbers of Tring men lost their lives, and the death of Lord Rothschild in 1915 marked the end of a glorious era. The younger son Charles inherited the estate but his early death was to lead to its sale, with the Mansion becoming a school. After the Second World War, large areas north of the town were developed for housing and a bypass was built through the park. An industrial estate sprang up and new schools and a sports centre were built. Dolphin Square was developed and numerous enhancements carried out in the town centre. At Pendley Manor several new facilities were created by Dorian Williams, including sports pitches, a theatre converted from an indoor riding school and an annual outdoor Shakespeare festival. An annual Arts Festival began, while the campaign to restore the derelict Wendover Arm of the canal brought its own annual event – Tring Canal Festival. Tring Park, threatened with development, was bought by the local authority and handed over to the Woodland Trust #32 Carlisle in 50 Buildings Carlisle in 50 Buildings Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher : Amberley Publishing Date : January 2022 Originally established as a Roman settlement to serve the forts along Hadrian’s Wall, the Cumbrian city of Carlisle has a wealth of fascinating history. Its proximity to Scotland meant that it was a crucial military stronghold and its imposing eleventh-century castle and city walls have witnessed many conflicts through the centuries. During the Industrial Revolution it became an important hub on the railway network and a centre of textile manufacturing. Nicknamed the ‘Great Border City’, Carlisle is still the principal commercial and cultural centre of the county. In Carlisle in 50 Buildings author Paul Rabbitts explores fifty of the city’s architectural landmarks to discover its history, development and the changing way of life for its people. Both ancient and modern structures are featured, which have been used for many different purposes and reflect a wide range of architectural styles. The city’s success is based on its industry, which has shaped its built environment together with the many historic buildings and new structures. All these are celebrated within this well-illustrated book. This engaging and accessible portrait of the city’s rich history and its architectural heritage will appeal to residents and visitors alike. AVAILABLE FOR SALE HERE #33 Cotherstone - A Village in Teesdale Cotherstone - A Village in Teesdale Author: Paul Rabbitts and David Rabbitts Publisher : Amberley Publishing Date: September 2022 Cotherstone Village in County Durham is set on the River Tees, four miles from Barnard Castle. Today a large and pretty village, its history goes back to the Domesday Book and it has remains of a motte and bailey castle dating from the 1200s. In more recent times it became a well-known destination for holiday makers from the growing urban centres nearby and at one time was known as ‘Little Sunderland’ because of its popularity in that city. Cotherstone has connections with Hannah Hauxwell, who became famous through the television documentary series about her harsh life as a farmer on the Pennines above the village, and through the locally produced Cotherstone Cheese. This fascinating history of the village of Cotherstone in Teesdale will be of interest to all those who have lived in the village or know it well. AVAILABLE HERE #34 London's Royal Parks - Buildings and Monuments London's Royal Parks - Buildings and Monuments Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher : Pen and Sword Publishing Date : February 2025 ​ London’s Royal Parks are among its most beautiful and beloved spaces: just as much as the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace or St Pancras Station, the mere mention of Hyde Park or Greenwich Park is enough to evoke the capital in all its glory for residents and tourists alike. They have a magnificent history – some were royally owned as far back as the Norman conquest, others were acquired by Henry VIII during the Reformation and were great hunting grounds for successive monarchs – and since being opened to the public, they have hosted some of London’s great events, including the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park and innumerable jubilees, international games and competitions and celebrations. Today, the Royal Parks are visited by over 77 million visitors. But what are the ingredients of these magnificent green spaces? We often think of wider landscapes of trees, grass, lakes, meandering footways, bedding displays and herbaceous borders. But the Royal Parks are much more than this. Defined as ‘parkitecture’, we find royal palaces, stately homes, villas, monuments, memorials, statues of national figures and war heroes, public art, often controversial yet inspiring, sculpture, bandstands, gates and railings of exquisite designs, fountains, refreshments rooms, lodges and pavilions, bridges and boathouses. Each of the Royal Parks is defined by its ‘parkitecture’, from the formality of Regent’s and St James’s Parks to the rurality of Bushy and Richmond Parks. This new book is a long overdue complete celebration of the many buildings and monuments of London’s Royal Parks with over 250 beautiful illustrations. #35 A Guide to London's Royal Parks A Guide to London's Royal Parks Author: Paul Rabbitts Publisher : Pen and Sword Publishing Date : May 2025 An updated guide on London's Royal Parks covering all 8 parks - from historic Greenwich to the majesty of Kensington Gardens. London’s Royal Parks are among its most beautiful and beloved spaces: just as much as the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace or St Pancras Station, the mere mention of Hyde Park or Greenwich Park is enough to evoke the capital in all its glory for residents and tourists alike. They have a magnificent history – some were royally owned as far back as the Norman conquest, others were acquired by Henry VIII during the Reformation and were great hunting grounds for successive monarchs – and since being opened to the public, they have hosted some of London’s great events, including the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park and innumerable jubilees, international games and competitions and celebrations. Today, the Royal Parks are visited by over 77 million visitors. #36 Christchurch in 50 Buildings Christchurch in 50 Buildings Author: Paul Rabbitts and Liz Gordon Publisher : Amberley Publishing Date : 2025 Christchurch began as a Saxon village. Its original name was Tweoxneam, which means ‘between two rivers’. The Saxon settlement stood on a triangular piece of land between the rivers. Early in the tenth century, Christchurch was made a burgh or fortified settlement. Christchurch was defended by the sea on one side and by two rivers, the Stour and the Avon on the other two sides. (Both rivers had marshes along their banks, which made them even more effective barriers). The Saxons erected an earth rampart on the remaining side. It probably had a wooden palisade on top. If the Danes attacked, men from all over the area would gather inside the burgh of Christchurch to fight. The name of the settlement was changed to Christchurch when the church was built in the eleventh century. According to legend St Catherine’s Hill was chosen for the site of a church. Each evening the builders would finish work but when they came back the next morning the building work was undone and the materials were moved somewhere else. One day a beam was cut too short and a stranger miraculously lengthened it. The builders decided the stranger must have been Jesus Christ so they moved the site of the church and changed the name of the town to Christchurch. In 1539 Henry VIII closed the priory. Fortunately, the leper hostel remained. By then there were no more lepers in England but it continued as a ‘hospital’ for the sick and infirm. By 2024, Christchurch is a thriving town, and whilst tourism is important, it is less reliant on this industry than some of its neighbours. Yet the town has been shaped by its history, with the castle and priory central to its development with industry throughout later centuries making the town what it is today. This book celebrates many of the buildings that make Christchurch the delightful town it has become.


    The Management of Urban Parks The management of Urban Parks is at a crossroads and these pages det​ail current thinking and in particular, the current attempts to establish an Institute for Parks Management. There is also guidance on the day to day management of urban parks. Please use the drop down menu.

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    Thanks for visiting! Hello and welcome to one of my two websites. You may be visiting for a number of reasons? Hello and Welcome Thank you for visiting my website and I hope you find something of interest. If you are looking to:- ​ Book me for a talk or a lecture - go to 'Public Speaking' Look at what books I have now published, do have a look at the heading 'Books'. Wanting to know more about my passion in Victorian and Edwardian bandstands, then head to 'Bandstands'. ​ I am currently Parks and Open Spaces Manager for Norwich City Council where I work full time, but in my now very limited spare time, I write, I lecture, and I promote the value of public parks. It is what I believe in and I practice what I preach. I left Watford with 17 Green Flag award winning parks and in Cassiobury Park, one of the best parks in the UK. I hope to achive as much at Norwich City Council. ​ However, my passion flows into my spare time and you will see that I do so much more. Check out the pages on this website for my list of lectures, my growing number of books and management of the growing Parks Management Association. ​ Want to know more about new Parks Management Association, link is here . I am now also represented by Past Preservers for all things media related (TV, Filming, Documentaries). Please see the link here . BANDSTAND DATABASE LINK TO PAVILIONS FOR MUSIC + SHARE

  • Green Flag Award

    Paul Rabbitts BA (Hons), MLA, FRSA, FLI Park Manager, Parks Historian, Author & Public Speaker The Green Flag Award A firm advocate of the Green Flag Award, I am of the view that along with the National Lottery Heritage Fund (previously the Heritage Lottery Fund) that Green Flag have been instrumental in ensuring many of our most important parks have been managed and maintained to a very high standard. This has been challenging for many authorities across the UK with austerity biting hard and a number have reduced their applications and in a few cases, no longer do at all. In Watford, we started out with 3 Green Flags in 2011 and the team were of the view we would never get any more. Collectively, they were 'persuaded' that was the wrong view to have and that Green Flag was much more than having to have a Friends Group in Place. By 2019, we have now obtained 12 Green Flag Award winning parks, with a target of 16. The team is challenged with this and we are bold enough to see we can do this, but most importantly we have the support of politicians and our Elected Mayor. I am often asked, how we achieve this - in simple terms - advocacy, and what we do we do well and the politicians simply get this. Cassiobury Park has also been consistently in the top 10 parks in the country too. So, back to Green Flag, I would encourage any and every authority to enter Green Flag. If resources are an issue, do at least one to show that as an industry, we are still visible. I see many parks that are Green Flag standard yet are not flying the flag as they have not entered. One such park I recently visited was Pageant Gardens in Sherborne, Dorset. It is a beautiful park and is worthy of a Green Flag. If you want to know more, do check out the Green Flag Award website here . “It’s fantastic to receive these 10 Green Flag Awards for 2017. “We know how much quality green spaces matter to residents and visitors, and these awards celebrate the dedication that goes into maintaining them to such a high standard. We are proud of what we have achieved and we’re determined to keep impressing the judges in the future. The council is continuing to invest in improvements to many parks and open spaces, and we are looking at new ways to ensure this can be sustained over coming years.” Councillor Timothy Godfrey, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport - Croydon Council


    Bandstands of Britain​ I am a bandstand obsessive and have studied them for years and have now written 4 books on them. Is this possible? Yes it is. I have also developed a website dedicated solely to bandstands - Of course, a website dedicated to the use of bandstands should give information on them. Here you can read about:- The History of the bandstand Bad bandstands - and there are many Beautiful bandstands - and there are many thankfully Restoration men - who restores these beauties? Bandstands today? How are they used And a few selfies on bandstand - and why not. Learn More

  • Institute For Parks Managers

    Please see the following website for further details and progress that has been made The Parks Management Association A FURTHER UPDATE 26th JANUARY 2020 First of all, a very happy new year to you all. January is almost done and there are Easter eggs in Tesco already. Looking out my window at home, its cold, wet and grey and have managed to escape the horror that is Love Island which my daughter and wife are watching. To more serious stuff. As promised, I said I would update you all on progress being made with regards to the representation for parks professionals. Myself, Ian Baggott, and Ruth Holmes, representing parks, met with the LI reps on 15th January at new LI HQ. Progress has been excellent and the discussions were very productive. One thing I now appreciate is that this is going to take time to do well. It will not happen overnight. My summary was:- this is now progressing well and Ruth and Christina from the LI in particular are on the case. The competency framework is work in progress and Ian and I will work with Christina on this and we had lots of debate about how parks management should be reflected in the core competencies and specialist competencies. Timescale - this will take time and I accept this needs to be done right - all this will go to the boars in Sept – Dec Board with routes into the Institute ready for early 2021. There will be options to join as a Chartered Landscape Professional - cost is £340 a year or as an Affiliate – cost currently £66 but will go up possibly to £100 – no post nominals – access to CPD and online portal. To keep the ball rolling I suggested the following – invitations to others to come in through the invited route as Fellows or CMLI – these can become advocates for parks and the LI – We (Ian, Chris Worman MBE, Eddy Curry, Sue Ireland) have made a number of suggestions here; set up a microsite linked to LI website asap – saying this is happening – regular updates and we can direct people to this; Links to colleges and conversations with them sooner rather than later but once the competency framework is sorted and agreed. Ian followed this up with the following additional comments:- LI are looking at the Parks Affiliate Route as a way of getting parks professionals to join the LI – we discussed how this could work with existing regional for a (parks for London and the Midlands Parks Forum for example) – LI is an individual membership, MPF is an organisational one; MPF are already working on how we collaborate with the LI to deliver our workshops / CPD events for this year In order to get to a pathway for “:chartered landscape professional” the LI need to Get the entry standards sorted Get the competency framework completed (to board March 2020) – this includes the new competencies that we suggested yesterday i.e. a new competency for parks management and probably ones around procurement, financial management and possibly contract management – Paul and Ian will be working on these Recruit new mentors / assessors from the sector Test the scheme out – I offered to help check out whether the specialist competencies worked with some of our clients / colleagues – the current view is that to become a chartered landscape professional you will need to pass 2 specialist competencies at level 2 (the ‘able’ level) and 3 at level 3 (the ‘accomplished’ level) LI are looking at reducing the requirements of levels 3 and 4 down It is hoped that the first tranche of new CMLI would be assessed in November 2021 – so there would be a piece of work here to be done around identifying who those people might be. It was definitely the moist positive and productive meeting we have had so far as we actually achieved something! There are still the outstanding actions from the November meeting for Dan and his team to progress but finally it looks like we are moving in the right direction. Further to the LI meeting, I have had discussions with the Chartered Institute of Horticulture and CLOA. Both are worthy organisations and represent what many of us do. I have fed back that we felt the LI was the route to progress. However, we need to strengthen links with both the CIOH and CLOA. The latter are keen to look at further parks representations within their organisation and I have discussed this with Stef Horne, who is Head of Parks and Leisure at LB Hounslow and represents parks sector on CLOA. I suggested a parks 'executive' on CLOA made up of a number of individuals from our sector. This was to be fed back to CLOA but would certainly strengthen connections here. With the CIOH, although dominated by the growers sector, I do feel it would be worth considering a closer working relationship here. From a sector and individuals own profile, it may be helpful to look at what they offer. There will always be a cost to this but by being Members / Fellows / Associates of such organisations, this can only strengthen our position as individuals but for the sector too. Do look at their websites. Use of social media - I know many of us shy away from it and there are those who embrace it. However, as a tool to celebrate our many successes and profile and our work, you cannot beat a good picture of a group enjoying a park activity, a large mature oak tree, or grabbing a latte in a park cafe, or raising a Green Flag... we have so many. Tweet it, Insta it, #it.... especially on twitter and #parksmatter and copy in @MHCLG, your local paper, your elected members and so on. It all makes a difference. More updates to follow and best wishes to all of you and get those Green Flag applications in by the end of this month. AN UPDATE 3rd DECEMBER 2019 Following on from the below which outlines the rationale, as promised I said I would survey the sector to ascertain the appetite for either establishing a new Institute for Parks Management or whether we align with an existing organisation. Well the response was overwhelming with over 600 individual responses from across the UK with a significant spread from London, the Midlands, North West, Yorkshire and the North -East, Scotland and South Wales. I was overwhelmed by the response and thank you for the time you took to fill the survey in. I now have a database of well over 750 individuals from a wide range of organisations but primarily the public sector. The Results The results gave a clear view of what the sector felt. I attach a full copy of the results here In summary:- Overwhelming desire to have representation for parks professionals (95%) Strong desire to have our own institute (63%) Those that suggested affiliation included organisations such as The Landscape Institute (LI), Chartered Institute of Horticulture (CIOH), Chief Cultural & Leisure Officers Association (CLOA), Countryside Managers Association, CIMSPA. The LI and CIOH were the most suggested options. Parks Managers should be represented CPD, Professional Guidance and Skills development were crucial to a new organisation The most popular fee was £51-£100. Those who wanted it free.... ?? really? Organisational Membership should be encouraged The Institute should be open to all, although experience was a critical matter for many The Third Sector should be represented The popular names were Institute of Parks Management or Institute of Parks and Amenity Management. Many commented it should also refer to Green Spaces. Strong support to assist primarily through advocacy and networking plus nearly 100 of you wanted to be on a Board! 275 comments were made in anything to add. These referred on a number of occasions to the sustainability of any new organisation to the majority stating this was long overdue. The Next Steps So what are the next steps? It is all very well doing a survey, but what happens next? There is a need to keep the momentum going. On Monday in Birmingham, myself, Eddy Curry (Head of Public Realm - Nottingham City); Chris Worman MBE (Head of Parks - Rugby BC); Ian Baggott (Director - Community First Partnership); Sue Ireland (Former Director of Open Spaces - City of London); Helen Tranter (Vice President - Landscape Institute); Simon O'Dell (Technical Lead - Landscape Institute); Dan Cook (CEO Landscape Institute); Jane Findlay (Landscape Institute - incoming President) Andy Morris (Landscape Institute); Ruth Holmes (London Legacy - online) and Rob Pearce (The Parks Alliance - online) all met to discuss what the Landscape Institute could offer. The purpose of the early part of the meeting was to induct a number of us into the Landscape Institute as Fellows, but primarily, it was to meet up and discuss what the LI could do for park managers and landscape professionals. The meeting was productive and there was considerable discussions throughout the day. What is apparent is the LI are keen to bring in parks professionals at a range of levels and a recognition that the LI has to change and be more open and representative of Landscape. There was also a long discussion around a range of competencies and framework that individuals could be brought into the Institute. At present this looks overly complicated and needs a lot of work. The Landscape Institute currently has over 5,000 members and is looking to grow it numbers. Compared to RICS or RIBA, they are very small. Having said that, the new Institute for Place Management has c1500 members so size is not everything and the CIOH has 1850 members. The feeling from the meeting was that the LI could be a home for parks professionals as sustainability of a new institute is a concern. However, this is not a reason to continue looking at the options for a single parks institute or other organisations. The outcome of the meeting was that Dan Cook, the CEO of the LI was asked to come back in January 2020 with a firm plan and proposal with detail as to how the LI could represent parks people. Discussions have also been held with APSE and contact made with the National Lottery Heritage Fund and presentations made at Green Flag Judge update days, West Midlands Parks Forum and Parks East. Support is out there for representation of some kind. I have now also had a meeting on the 2nd and 3rd December with the President and Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture who many parks professionals joined several years ago. This was incredibly productive and as an organisation that has Horticulture at its core, clearly has synergies with parks. The CIOH used to be made up of 50% parks professionals with CPD, an annual parks conference and was very much a home for us. Numbers deteriorated with the demise of ILAM as well as CCT, and the absorption of parks into Leisure departments and Streetscene Services. Numbers left the sector and the CIOH now has few members from Parks. There is however, a real desire to bring parks back into the fold. I attended their annual conference today (3/12/19) and the content was very much reflective of many of our issues - pollinators, urban forestry, horticulture as a medium for change, biodiversity, climate change. Their structure is simple, entry levels much more defined and a career path defined as well as considerable good value for money. They have established CPD and a 3x a year Journal and are already Chartered. See link here There was little support for joining CLOA . Many may be asking if the survey said form our own institute and that was a clear majority, why are we talking to the LI and CIOH? Simple. Sustainability is a real issue and we need to ensure whatever we do, it will last. However, and this is a big however.... I still think the establishment of a separate parks institute is a viable option but would take time and would require funding. With the overwhelming number who responded to the survey and the vast number not reached (Town and Parish Councils), I am convinced a parks institute could generate at least 3,000 members which is sustainable. We would need support in setting up and this is where partnerships are important (APSE, NLHF) to make this happen. If we do form a new institute, we will need to generate alliances with other organisations especially with the LI, APSE, CIOH, CIMSPA and others. What I am therefore doing is drafting a Business Plan to look at how an Institute for Parks Management could be established alongside continuing discussions with the LI and the CIOH. It has to be right for us. The working up of the Business Plan will progress. My humble opinion (and others) was our own institute was the preferred option but we have to be realistic. I would be very much interested though from colleagues on views re affiliation though - The Landscape Institute or the Chartered Institute of Horticulture. Do let me know at or or 07915602358. THE RATIONALE Representing Park Management Professionals - a proposal The purpose of this page is to outline the current situation with regards to the lack of professional representation of parks managers and to detail a way forward by developing an opportunity for parks professionals to have an established organisation to represent them. Introduction There are 418 principal (unitary, upper and second tier) councils in the UK – 27county councils, 201 district councils, and 125 unitary councils. There are around 11,000 local councils in the UK, from town councils to parish councils. These councils manage between them 27,000 public parks across the country and employ a significant number of professionals to manage and maintain them within such service areas including streetcare, waste services, leisure services, community services, neighbourhood services and cultural services. It is now a rarity to find an authority that retains its distinct ‘parks service’ often absorbed into a wider departmental structure, yet the public perception is very different, and still perceive that ‘parks departments’ still exist. However, over the last 20+ years, there has been a significant reduction in the number of professionals dedicated to the management of parks and open spaces with headlines such as ‘last of a dying breed’ and media coverage not only in the trade press but also in mainstream media (The Guardian and the Daily Mail, BBC Radio). Like many public services, austerity has hit hard and soft services such as parks have and continue to be hit hard with park management professionals often becoming marginalised and in many authorities, redundancies have occurred with significant posts lost. During this period, a number of organisations have represented parks professionals including:- ILAM (Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management) which became ISPAL and ultimately CIMSPA, neither of the latter organisations representing parks professionals; The Urban Parks Forum , becoming GreenSpace which folded a number of years ago; CABE Space , which was a government funded Quango responsible for championing urban parks and professionals, but was disbanded and became part of the Design Council, no longer representing parks professionals. Since the disappearance of these reputable organisations, no single body represents the body of individuals who continue to manage our urban parks. As part of the recent public inquiry into public parks (before the government became all absorbed with Brexit), one of the key issues raised was the lack of a professional body to represent parks management professionals. To this day, there has been little progress despite the continued need and representation from the industry. The Current Position With no professional body representation, a number of other bodies exist that have indirect links and to a degree have ‘carried the flag’ for parks. These are as follows: The Landscape Institute (LI): represents the interests of landscape architects, landscape managers and landscape scientists, a chartered institute with entry by examination. A number of landscape architects have entered the world of parks management (including myself) and left the LI. The LI is keen to expand its portfolio of professional representation and there is now a ‘parks chapter’ representing parks professionals within the Irish Landscape Institute. The Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE): representing the public sector generally and covers all areas within, from waste, streets, leisure, culture, parks etc. APSE is currently the only organisation that currently is responsible for local, regional and national networking with seminars and conferences covering parks. They are also exceptional at collecting data with regards to trends. APSE is also a commercial organisation. Parks Action Group (PAG): a small group representing parks interests working with national government – membership of this group covers key stakeholders such as Green Flag, Groundwork, HLF, National Trust, and others. Green Flag: managed by Keep Britain Tidy Group and with dedicated officers, the only significant organization that network nationally (and now internationally) with local authorities and parks professionals. There are over 1,800 Green Flag Parks and despite current downward trends, the numbers of GF parks are increasing. However, a number of key local authorities have significantly reduced their number of applications and in a number of instances, ceased altogether. Why is this? The Parks Alliance: a small organisation who lobby government and promote the importance of parks nationwide, made up of individuals who are passionate and advocate the importance of parks, particularly via social media. Regional Parks Forums: Across the country, there are a small number of green space or parks forums, and include ParksHerts, the West Midlands Parks Forum, Birmingham Open Spaces Society, Bristol Parks Forum, and the London Parks and Open Spaces Forum. Each of these represent regional interests and are made up of local authority officers and arrange local workshops, networking events, sharing of information and are provide local support networks. GreenSpace Scotland: As Scotland’s parks and green space charity, they have been influential in shaping a supportive policy context for green space and promoting good practice on green space delivery in Scotland. Now a social enterprise, they are an exemplar organisation in promoting the benefits of green space, developing policy and supporting the sector. The Gardens Trust: The Gardens Trust is the only UK national charity dedicated to protecting and conserving our heritage of designed landscapes. They campaign on their behalf, undertake research and conservation work, and encourage public appreciation and involvement. Through the national network of County and Country Garden Trusts, they have access to people and local expertise throughout the country. The Gardens Trust is also a membership organisation which relies on members and donors to support their work. Increasingly, they are becoming more involved in parks issues where there are specific interests related to landscape design and heritage. The National Trust: The NT has taken up the challenge of wider issues around the management of urban green spaces and is working with the NLHF on the parks accelerator programme and assisting a number of local authorities based on the NT model in looking at better ways of managing parks eg Newcastle, Cambridge, Birmingham and London. This is an interesting development especially as they have secured funding to assist with this programme. The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF): The only organisation that has funded and has basically been the saviour of many of our public parks and has funded a number of parks management posts. As of 2018, they no longer have a dedicated parks fund but will continue to fund parks. Fields in Trust: Fields in Trust is an independent charity with over 90 years’ experience protecting parks and green spaces. They work with landowners, community groups and policy makers to champion the value of our parks and green spaces to achieve better protection for their future at both local and national level. Chief Cultural and Leisure Officers Association: CLOA’s mission is to be the lead body that advises on, advocates and champions culture and leisure on behalf of sector professionals, locally, regionally and nationally. Their vision is that every locality has a thriving, high quality and distinctive cultural and leisure offer. They have two clear strategic aims which are – To provide quality advice and support to senior officers to develop and sustain best practice. Providing an informed and coherent voice at a national level to champion, support and advocate for best practice in local government culture and leisure development and delivery. The Issues Since the demise of ILAM, GreenSpace and CABE Space, it is clear that no singular organisation represents the parks sector and management functions within. What groups that exist are either entirely regionally focused, supported by volunteers, or have a partial interest in urban parks. Whilst this may be perceived as a strength, it results in a disjointed approach to the representation of the parks sector with the question remaining, who truly represents the interests of the parks sector. The strength of a singular organisation representing the sector is now deemed essential. The creation of a new chapter within an existing and established organisation would benefit parks professionals in the following way:- Sector representation – a seat at the table with a single voice; Developing and enhancing opportunities for succession planning within the sector – developing the park managers of tomorrow; Skills, Learning & Development opportunities – so sadly lacking; Sharing and networking forum nationally; Collective of expertise – the level of expertise in this sector is immense – creating the 21st century park manager; Create and strengthen links with wider sector and beyond. The Way Forward and a Proposal I am Head of Parks, Heritage and Culture at Watford Borough Council and have worked in parks and landscapes for over 30 years in Carlisle, Middlesbrough and now in Watford. There have been significant changes as we all know in the structures and financing of local authorities and one of the easy cuts has been parks and open spaces. Throughout this time, we have lost the Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management (ILAM); GreenSpace; CabeSPACE, and now have The Parks Alliance and Parks Action Group who are campaigners but do not represent those working in the sector. Times are tough but there is one issue that we can resolve which is within our own control. The management of parks has changed and we are now having to adapt like never before – commercialisation seems to be the key skill needed and horticulture is now, way down the list of skills required. So, my reason for this proposal is as follows:- There seems to be a growing desire to establish a new organisation that represents parks managers or those officers involved in the day to day running of parks and green spaces – park managers, park development officers, play officers, allotments, grounds maintenance managers. In my own authority, I have a cemetery manager who is a member of the ICCM and a colleague who is in the Institute of Chartered Foresters. Colleagues in leisure are in CIMSPA, yet there is no professional organisation that represents those managing parks and open spaces. We need to change this. There has been talk of bringing in parks management professionals into the Landscape Institute (LI), where there is some support for this, as well as CLOA but also many who say we should have our own institute. The LI currently represents landscape architects who are primarily private practice orientated and CLOA is very leisure focussed. Either way, this will not be easy but if we start out small and grow slowly so we ensure we are sustainable, then we can get an organisation that becomes our voice, supports the profession, enhances skills, creates networking opportunities and disseminates information and best practice across the sector. It is long overdue . I am now distributing a survey on Survey Monkey and I would be most grateful if this could be filled in and passed to all colleagues who work in managing parks and open spaces. I really believe we can make this happen and it will make a difference. It is time to look at what is best for us as a sector and decide our own way forward - an affiliation with an existing institute or a new organisation representing parks people. The survey link is here or below. Please do fill it in.

  • Contact

    Please get in touch! Interested in contacting me? Get in touch with me via the form below and I will get back to you as soon as possible! Name* Email Address* Message* Send Message Contact Information Paul Rabbitts Phone : 0791 5602358 Email: Address: 48 New Road Leighton Buzzard Bedfordshire LU7 2LX Twitter: #bandmasta LinkedIn: Paul Rabbitts Battersea Park, Wandsworth, London


    A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, I was born and brought up in rural County Durham in 1965, Teesdale to be exact, and I went to Barnard Castle School, which I loved. After pretty poor A' Level results, I ended up taking a BA Honours degree in Geography at Sheffield City Polytechnic and spent 3 brilliant years there. Two years at Edinburgh University followed swiftly and a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture (MLA). I was then gainfully employed for just over 2 years in a small landscape architectural practice on the island of Jersey. Returning to the mainland, I took up a post at Carlisle City Council for 8 years working in Parks and Countryside where my obsession with parks began, and where I was ultimately responsible in 1996 for one of the first HLF Lottery funded park restorations at Hammond's Pond in Carlisle itself. A return to the North-East saw me take over a Landscape and Countryside Development team at Middlesbrough Council and managing a vast range of projects including the £4.4 million HLF funded restoration of Albert Park and where I also built the biggest skatepark in the country at Prissick Playing Fields. Eight years at Middlesbrough saw me move back into private practice with Halcrow Group Ltd, a global environmental and engineering consultancy where I was their "parks" expert, and over the 4 years saw me working from the Scottish Borders to the Isle of Wight with all my clients in the public sector. Projects included the Stage 1 HLF application for the restoration of Wilton Lodge Park in Hawick, now completed. ​ However, a return to the public sector beckoned with a daring move south to take up a role as Head of Parks, Open Spaces & Projects with Watford Borough Council - (no one moves south do they?) and they all thought I was mad. Here I have overseen the HLF funded £7.2 million award winning restoration of Cassiobury Park, the Ancient Seat of the Earls of Essex. From January 2020, I took on Heritage, Arts Development and Events and promoted to Head of Parks, Heritage and Culture. In January 2022, I took the opportunity of a move and a new challenge after 11 years at Watford, and took on the role of Head of Parks and Open Spaces at Southend-on-Sea City Council, a large in-house team, managing circa 120+ staff and in May 2023, saw a move to the City of Norwich as their Parks and Open Spaces Manager where I currently am employed. Throughout though, has been a growing passion for parks, and their history and evolution. An early morning shower (where often the best ideas are born) whilst still living in the North-East led to the idea of a book which had long been a desire - on a "history of the bandstand", generated by my involvement in the Albert Park restoration and the replacement of the bandstand there. "Bandstands" was ultimately published in 2011 by Shire Publishing and the move south generated further opportunities to write, and in particular on the Royal Parks of Regent's Park, Richmond Park and Hyde Park for Amberley Publishing, and a new general history of them for Shire. More books have since followed and I have now published 25 books. The bandstands obsession continues and has seen me appear in a BBC4 Documentary called 'Britain's Parks Story' with Dan Cruickshank, on the Simon Mayo drivetime show on BBC Radio 2 as well as recently published in the BBC Music Magazine (May 2014) and more recently on BBC Radio Wales, BBC London, BBC Three Counties, BBC Coventry and the scary heights of the Leighton Buzzard Observer, and ultimately saw me receive the accolade as one of Britain's Dullest Men - appearing on the Jeremy Vine show and Have I got News for You. ​ Now living in Leighton Buzzard, I continue to write, and am still counting bandstands... oh as well as hold down a full time job...oh as well as keep my family entertained by my intermittent ramblings on all things geeky. The writing and passion has also allowed me to do many public speaking engagements, in particular for local groups including the Association of Public Service Excellence, University of Leicester, several Garden Trusts, Women's Institutes, Luton Museums, Watford Museum, U3A, Civic Societies, Local History Societies, Church groups etc... in fact anyone who wants to listen. I am now an accredited lecturer for the Arts Society too, which I am very excited about and now lecture across the UK. In late 2019 and into early 2020, I established and founded with a number of colleagues, the Parks Management Association which is the first organisation that represents those professionals working in public parks. I am currently the chairman and am proud to see this go from strength to strength. Of course this website tells you a lot more about much of this but feel free to contact me about absolutely any of this. Why me? Passionate about:- Parks People Places Books Bandstands Black Sabbath

  • Parkitecture

    Parkitecture - Buildings and Monuments of Public Parks With many visits to parks looking at bandstands in particular, I do come across many other features of beauty and rich in heritage. Such as? fountains, gates, lodges, bridges, memorials, clocks, sundials, aviaries, cafes, boat houses, railings, statues... even cannons. So I thought it would be great to add a page as there are some beautiful structures out there. Worth a book on this alone? Yes of course and here it is Congleton Park - this stunning Walter Macfarlane drinking fountain. Walter Macfarlane as always leaves his mark Beckenham Rec - Bromley, great gates and lodge is just superb. Bedford Park - Bedford - gates dedicated from 1888 Bedford Park - lodge and gates. Lived in and loved. Embankment Gardens , Bedford - bridge architecture Victoria Park , Ilkeston - this rather grand pergola Handsworth Park , Birmingham - a fabulous bandstand here but complemented by these lottery funded restored gates Stanley Park , Blackpool, Thomas Mawson designed park with some stunning art deco/arts and crafts features within. Fountains, statues, clock tower, boating lake and cafe. Stanley Park Great cafe or what Lister Park , Bradford, another example of fine architecture Lister Park Moghul Gardens and the cafe and new boathouse Queen's Park , Crewe, one of my favourite parks. McDowall Steven shelter in Queen's Park ​ Victoria Park , Denton on Tameside Borough Gardens Dorchester, one of the finest clocks in any public park Borough Gardens Dorchester, one of the finest clocks in any public park People's Park , Halifax, and the infamous statues on the upper terrace. Paxton's finest park, People's Park. The sundial the same as found in Albert Park, Middlesbrough People's Park, bridge, fountain and bandstand. Valley Gardens , Harrogate, one of the finest cafes in a park Beaumont Park , Huddersfield, what a great lodge, and a lion sat watching as you walk by. Greenhead Park , Huddersfield, packed with historic features and buildings, one of the finest parks in the country. Conservatory a fabulous functional space today. Fountain flying high. The impact of benefactors and philanthropy cannot be under-estimated here. Drinking fountains Hyde Park , Tameside, a great use of stone in this fountain and ionic columns. Ventnor Park , Isle of Wight. Stunning park lodge. The Walks , Kings Lynn The Walks Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa Yet another park packed full of history and our heritage Fountain in Jephson Gardens and opposite in the Pump Room Gardens, the new arches in place Roundhay Park , Leeds, shelters rather than bandstands The Arboretum in Lincoln Mazes and fountains Newsham Park in Liverpool Sefton Park , Palmhouse, Liverpool, restored and resplendent Inside the palmhouse 2 of the many statues surrounding the Palmhouse Stanley Park , Liverpool, Gladstone Pavilion and bandstand restored Battersea Park , London Festival Gardens, Battersea Park , London Myatt's Fields , London West Ham Park , London Eaton Park , Norwich, Bandstand, colonnades and Model Yacht Club house Sheffield Botanical Gardens and the Paxton Pavilions The Richard Eve Monument, Brinton Park , Kidderminster, with bandstand behind it. Summer-house, Bridge End Gardens , Saffron Walden Dutch Garden, Bridge End Gardens Alexandra Park , Oldham, The Lion's Den Chinese Pavilion Alexandra Park , Oldham Boathouse and cafe, Alexandra Park Wardown Park, Luton, Daisy Chain Walk - Photo Dr. Stewart Harding Fulham Palace, London, Gates and Lodge Photo Dr. Stewart Harding Linslade, The Park , Leighton Buzzard Public Park , Barrow, Cumbria Mowbray Gardens , Sunderland Linslade, The Park , Leighton Buzzard Corporation Park , Blackburn Birkenhead Park , Wirral, Merseyside Main entrance and Swiss Bridge Birkenhead Park, Boat house The Lodge, Heaton Park , Manchester Paisley Park , Nr Glasgow. Stunning restoration by Lost Art Crystal Palace Park , London, the iconic dinosaurs Waterlow Park , London, and the statue to the benefactor, Sydney Waterlow Crystal Palace Park , and the tribute to Sir Joseph Paxton Mary Stevens Park , Stourbridge, one of my favourite parks and beautifully restored. Vivary Park , Taunton, gates and fountain restored Victoria Park , London and the Burdett Coutts Fountain, one of the finest features in any park anywhere The Albert Memorial, Hyde Park , London Palfrey Park , Walsall, a lovely introduction to a very pleasant park Town Centre Gardens , Redditch Albert Park , Middlesbrough Albert Park , Middlesbrough, central fountain Forbury Gardens , Reading and the Maiwand Lion - stunning Dunorlan Park , Tunbridge Wells and the Pulhamite Fountain. Bushey Rose Garden , Bushey in Hertfordshire, a great restoration of this gorgeous garden Saltwell Park , Gateshead, a rustic shelter in one of our greatest parks Hackworth Park , Shildon, a Hill & Smith drinking fountain Remains of The Pilgrimage of Life Fountain in Kennington Park , London, by George Tinworth. 1872. A sign in the park explains: “This was once a large ornamental fountain that stood in a panelled garden close to today's park playground. The pillar was covered with a bas relief decoration and supported a fountain bowl, slimmer column, and a sculpture, The Pilgrimage of Life. The creation of George Tinworth, the resident sculptor at Doulton's Lambeth factory, the sculpture showed a man carrying a cross with a women and child. The fountain was erected in 1872 and damaged irreparably during the blitz; the sculpture survived until 1981 Kennington Park - The Sexby Gardens and pergola walkway Kennington Park - Cafe and its open too Victoria "Bitts" Park in Carlisle and the dominating statue of Queen Victoria Burslem Park , Stoke on Trent, bandstand and pavilion Main entrance to Burslem Park, Stoke on Trent and the terracotta fountains. Parker's Piece , Cambridge, Sun Foundry lighting column Parker's Piece , Cambridge Clarence Park , St. Albans, Aberdeen granite drinking fountain Cricket Pavilion, Clarence Park , St Albans Danson Park in the LB Bexley, with these rather grand gates. Town Park , LB Enfield, gates and fountain and the odd plaque telling a story Gunnersbury Park , LB Ealing and a wonderful gate detail at its main entrance Gunnersbury Park , temple within the grounds Gunnersbury House and Museum, its future is?? Stewart Park , Middlesbrough, a well considered restoration of the former Marton Hall's Stable Block Victoria Park , LB Tower Hamlets Victoria Park , Burdett Coutts Fountain, Tower Hamlets Victoria Park , Tower Hamlets, a place for repose, once pedestrian refuges from the old London Bridge (demolished 1831) and erected in Victoria Park in 1860 Caldecott Park , Rugby, main gates. Caldecott Park , Rugby St Annes on Sea - a beautiful Macfarlane shelter by the sea. St Anne's on Sea - a Walter Macfarlane fountain St Anne's on Sea - and a shelter by McDowall Steven and Co. Ropner Park , Stockton on Tees Lurgan Park , Fountain Bute Park , Cardiff Corporation Park , Blackburn, a conservatory needing some TLC but still incredibly imposing The Doulton Fountain, Glasgow Green Glasgow Green - Winter Gardens ...... ...... and drying Greens Forbury Gardens , Reading, green with a touch of red Forbury Gardens , Reading Queen's Park , Loughborough, Carillon Tower Abbey Park , Leicester, a rather alarmed looking Cardinal Wolsey Abbey Park , Leicester, a wonderful pavilion and cafe today Abbey Park , Leicester Abbey Park , main entrance

  • Parks Research

    Parks Research & Guidance GATHERING THE EVIDENCE The aim of this section is to highlight significant research that has been carried out over the years. This will be a challenge as an incredible amount of research has been carried out over many years and continues to this day. Politicians are still demanding evidence and whilst it is frustrating for those of us working in the sector, we still seem to be having to provide. Thankfully there are many academics out there still coming up with excellent well considered evidence as to why parks are important to us. This includes the University of Sheffield, University of Leeds, and a number of others. We also have considerable evidence from the now defunct CABE Space, from the National Trust, Nesta, as well as organisations such as the RSPB. Fields in Trust have been active in evidence gathering in the value of green space on health, wellbeing and GreenSpace Scotland are exemplars in evidence gathering. This section will grow and is very much a start. CABE Space research A Guide to Producing Park and Green Space Management Plans - CABE Space This guide was produced to enable anyone involved in the management of publicly accessible parks and green space to write management plans that help them to manage, maintain, develop and improve their green space in the most appropriate way. The guide was the result of discussions between CABE Space and a range of stakeholders. In particular feedback both from applicants and potential applicants to the Green Flag Award scheme and from its judges suggested that many applicants were experiencing difficulty in putting good plans together. CABE Space recognised the potential benefits that effective management plans can bring, and was keen to promote their wider adoption. Government also recognised the contribution of quality green spaces to building sustainable communities, and in delivering the former Liveability agenda. The organisations involved in the production of this guide tried to make recommendations that fit a wide range of circumstances and applications, ensuring that the people responsible for managing parks and green space do not have to produce several different versions of their management plan depending on its intended use. Managers should, however, be aware that these various programmes would still expect their specific requirements to be incorporated in a management plan submitted to them. The guide can be downloaded here Open Space Strategies - CABE Space and Mayor of London Great parks, squares and streets make for a better quality of life. A network of well-designed and cared-for open spaces adds to the character of places where people want to live, work and visit. Open spaces also provide the vital green infrastructure that enables us to deal with floods or mitigate and adapt to climate change while providing wildlife habitats, sporting facilities or beautiful parks. Open space is now firmly part of statutory and community planning processes. Comprehensive planning policies for open space are fundamental to social inclusion, community cohesion, health and well-being. A shared, strategic approach to open space maximises its potential to contribute to a more inclusive and sustainable future at local, regional and national level. This document offers clear, practical guidance to local authorities and their stakeholders on how to prepare an open space strategy. For local authorities that have already completed an open space strategy, it also gives guidance on delivering, monitoring and reviewing a strategy. There are also examples of strategies in action from around England, reflecting different themes. Download the guidance here Green Space Strategies - A good practice guide - CABE Space This guide is designed to steer authorities through the process of drawing up effective strategies based on clear assessments of stakeholders’ needs and wishes. It will help provide a blueprint for working in partnership with other landowners and managers and with local communities to deliver excellent parks and green spaces now and in the future. It is aimed primarily at local government but its good practice advice will be useful to anyone with responsibility for the planning, design and maintenance of green spaces. The guidance draws on the principles of the Government’s Planning Policy Guidance Note 17 (PPG17) and will help authorities contribute to national objectives for better public spaces. This is not just a planning document, however; green space issues cut across most local authority functions and a sound strategy will help achieve corporate objectives for improvement to environment, recreation, leisure and social regeneration. Strategic joined-up thinking about green space benefits everyone. Download the document here The Value of Public Space - How high quality parks and public spaces create economic, social and environmental value - CABE Space This important document covers:- The Value of Public Space Introduction The Economic Value of Public Space The Impact on Physical and Mental Health The Benefits for Children and Young People Reducing Crime and Fear of Crime The Social Dimension of Public Space Movement in and Between Space Value from Biodiversity and Nature References You can download the document here Skills to Grow - Seven priorities to improve green space skills - CABE Space Skills to grow was a significant document. It brought together, for the first time, the efforts of national green space partners and other interested organisations in tackling this issue. The major challenges and opportunities were highlighted, as are the many different initiatives and programmes that are going on in the green space sector. Opportunities for further action are put forward. What is clear is that this is still a complex issue with potentially far-reaching consequences for the future of green spaces. As such, Skills to grow represented a significant first step in a more ambitious process. Much of this is still relevant today. You can download the document here Managing green spaces - Seven ingredients for success - CABE Space Examines how the organisation and structuring of parks and green space services affects their performance. Managing green spaces: seven ingredients for success brings together evidence to assist green space managers, corporate decision-makers and advisors in deciding the future of services. It sets out seven ‘ingredients for success.’ It also outlines the resources that green space managers can draw on to describe the critical services that green space provides to local communities. The research was carried out for CABE between 2009 and 2010 by the New Local Government Network (NLGN) You can download the document here Community green: using local spaces to tackle inequality and improve health - CABE Space Investigating the relationship between urban green space, inequality, ethnicity, health and wellbeing in the largest study of its kind in England. Community green: using local spaces to tackle inequality and improve health examines the impact of the quality of local green spaces on the health and wellbeing of people in six deprived and ethnically diverse areas. It shows that providing good quality local green space is an effective way to tackle inequality. It will be of interest to policymakers and those working in local government, social housing and the voluntary and community sector. Download the document here​ Urban green nation: Building the evidence base - CABE Space No one knows exactly how many green spaces there are in our urban areas, where they are, who owns them or what condition they are in. Our new report starts to fill this information gap. Urban green nation: building the evidence base starts to fill the serious green information gap, by compiling and analysing data at a national level. The summary presents the main findings of the research and the full report contains more information about the data, sources and indicators used. The report is be of interest to policymakers and decision makers in central and local government and anyone interested in understanding more about England’s urban green spaces. Download the document here Helping community groups to improve public spaces - CABE Space A summary of research by CABE into the main barriers facing community groups in improving public spaces. Helping community groups to improve public spaces Throughout the country, gardens, allotments, play areas and other public spaces are being transformed for the better by groups of local residents. These community groups often contribute hundreds of hours of volunteer time and considerable expertise, but sometimes they lack the practical support they need. This briefing is primarily for local authorities but will be of interest to other public space managers such as housing associations. It recommends ways to support community groups that are working to improve neighbourhood spaces and points to other organisations that can offer additional advice. Download the document here Making the invisible visible: the real value of park assets - CABE Space Explaining why traditional accounting methods are unhelpful when valuing assets – such as parks – that can appreciate over time. Most councils assume that each park they own is worth just £1. Why do they do this? What are the implications for maintenance and investment? Making the invisible visible explains why traditional accounting methods are unhelpful when valuing assets – such as parks – that can appreciate over time. It suggests a new way of valuing our parks which takes better account of the financial value they bring to society. Making the invisible visible is for parks and green space managers, finance professionals, asset managers – and anyone who wants to know more about valuing the physical assets within parks. Download the document here Public space lessons - improving green space skills - CABE Space Explaining why better skills are so vital to the green space sector, with tips on what can do to improve them. The green space sector is suffering from an acute lack of skills, with a shortage of professionals such as landscape architects and green space managers and inadequate training and career development opportunities. This is leading to poor quality green spaces and an under-valued workforce on poor pay. There is a much greater understanding of the many benefits that good green spaces can bring to society, but without investing in the workforce these will not be realised. This briefing explains why better skills are so vital to the sector now, and gives useful tips on what green space organisations can do to improve them. Download the document here Public space lessons - Improving park performance - CABE Space Explaining the value of TAES - Towards an excellent service for parks and open spaces - and how it works in practice. Useful for everyone working in green space services. Improving park performance The performance of local authority green space services is under more scrutiny than ever before, with increasing expectations from both the public and the government. Planning for improvement can be tricky, but now help is at hand, thanks to a dedicated self-assessment tool from CABE Space. ‘T AES’ – towards an excellent service for parks and open spaces – is designed to help green space teams get a clearer idea of their own performance and how to improve. This briefing explains the value of TAES and how it works in practice. It will be useful to everyone working for and with green space services. Download the document here Paying for parks - Eight models for funding urban green spaces - CABE Space Guidance for green space managers and regeneration professionals, as well as a call for a strategic rethink about how we resource these valuable assets. Paying for parks There is increasing recognition of the value of well-designed, managed and resourced parks and green spaces.Yet finding funding, in particular long-term revenue funding, remains a significant challenge. Paying for parks: eight models for funding urban green spaces responds by setting out the main funding mechanisms for green spaces , in the UK and abroad. Some could be replicated immediately, while others will take longer to implement and may require fiscal or legislative change. Paying for parks is a useful reference for parks and green space managers and regeneration professionals, as well as a call for a strategic rethink about how we resource these valuable assets. Download the document here Urban parks - Do you know what you're getting for your money? - CABE Space Summary of survey investigating whether more money guarantees better parks, asking local authorities whether the results reflect their own experiences. Urban parks In parks, as in most things, you get what you pay for. Or do you? For decades, parks were deprived of investment. Their quality declined. Now, more resources are being ploughed back into parks and urban green spaces. And quality seems to be improving. But is it really that simple? Does more money guarantee better parks? Would a 10 per cent increase in funding lead to a 10 per cent increase in quality? Do some councils deliver better parks for their money than others? This publication summarises a survey which tried to find out, and asks local authorities for feedback on whether the results reflect their own experiences. Download the document here Parks Need Parkforce - CABE Space Sets out the case for increasing the number of on-site park staff in order to create safe, popular and beautiful urban parks and green spaces. Parks need parkforce Parks need parkforce sets out the case for increasing the number of on-site staff to create safe, popular and beautiful parks. Download the document here Decent Parks? Decent behaviour? - CABE Space Providing evidence that good design and management, not just heavy handed security measures, are the key ingredients for safer parks. Decent parks? Decent behaviour? Decent parks? Decent behaviour? The link between the quality of parks and user behaviour is a new report providing evidence that good design and management, not just heavy handed security measures, are the key ingredients for safer parks. Download the document here Does Money Grow on Trees? - CABE Space Examining how well-planned and managed parks, gardens and squares can increase the value of nearby properties and attract people and inward investment. Does money grow on trees? Does money grow on trees? looks at how well planned and managed parks, gardens and squares can have a positive impact on the value of nearby properties and can attract inward investment and people to an area. Download the document here Is the grass greener...? Learning from international innovations in urban green space management - CABE Space Illustrating how cities from Melbourne to Minneapolis are improving their residents’ health, wealth and quality of life by investing in parks and green spaces. Is the grass greener? Is the grass greener…? Learning from international innovations in green space management demonstrates how 11 cities from Melbourne and Minneapolis, to Curitiba in Brazil are improving their residents’ health, wealth and quality of life by investing in parks. Download the document here Nesta and Rethinking Parks Rethinking Parks is funding and supporting organisations to develop innovative ways of managing and financing the UK’s public parks. The projects aim to make sure our parks and greenspaces are financially sustainable for the future and that they are run more impactfully for their local communities. There is an incredible amount of case studies and research here Fields in Trust Research For a number of years, Fields in Trust have been carrying out research on the value of green spaces and in particular:- The Green Space Index is Fields in Trust's barometer of publicly accessible park and green space provision. Our Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces research demonstrated that these spaces across the UK provide people with over £34 billion of health and wellbeing benefits. We believe that green spaces are good, do good and need to be protected for good. Through the Green Space Index, we are taking stock of the nation's quantity of local parks and green spaces and providing analysis on its impact. Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces: Measuring their economic and wellbeing value to individuals is research conducted in line with HM Treasury best practice in valuing non-market goods. This research provides a robust economic valuation of parks and green spaces in the UK as well as valuing improvements in health and wellbeing associated with their frequent use. It is the first study on parks and green spaces to apply welfare weighting methodology allowing for more informed evidence-based policy decisions. Want to know more about their work, the link is here The National Lottery Heritage Fund The saviours of many of our most valuable parks, the Heritage Fund have invested nearly £1 billion in public parks across the UK. One of the most important pieces of research that was carried out was the State of UK Public Parks in 2016. This second State of the UK Public Parks report shows that there is a growing deficit between the rising use of parks and the declining resources that are available to manage them. Based on new surveys, the findings show that while parks are highly valued by the public and usage is increasing, park maintenance budgets and staffing levels are being cut. The research calls for collaborative action to deliver new ways of funding and managing public parks to avert a crisis. Without urgent action the continuing downward trend in the condition of many of our most treasured parks and green spaces is set to continue. Whilst new ways of working and generating income are showing potential, more support, shared learning and collaboration is needed to support those that manage public parks. There is much more here and download the report here Academic Research The Future Prospects of Urban Public Parks - University of Leeds Public parks are long-standing and familiar features of the urban environment. For many people, visiting parks is an integral part of everyday life in the contemporary city. Yet parks in the UK are at a possible ‘tipping point’, prompting important concerns about their sustainability. Parks face essential challenges over funding and management, as well as questions of unequal access and competing demands on use. This study of public parks in the city of Leeds focused on how they have changed through time, how they are used today, and what their future prospects might be. Download the report here More information here "Invest in parks and green spaces to boost wellbeing across the city, say researchers" The University of Sheffield More funding should be made available to improve, maintain and encourage people to connect with green spaces in cities, to allow residents to reap the health and wellbeing rewards they can provide, according to researchers. Link to the article is here. The Gardens Trust Uncertain Prospects - Public Parks in the new age of austerity - The Gardens Trust In July 2016, the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee announced a new inquiry into the state of public parks. The Gardens Trust submitted a memorandum, prepared by Dr. Katy Layton-Jones, who was then called as an expert witness to appear on behalf of the Trust. In November 2016, Uncertain Prospects was published, celebrating the parks renaissance which has been achieved since 1993, but warning of the desperate future many now face as a result of local authority spending cuts. The effect of these varies widely between authorities – some are predicting an end to parks maintenance within the next couple of years, others are seeking to make parks self-financing, while others are throwing their weight behind the voluntary sector. The document can be downloaded here Historic England History of Public Park Funding and Management (1820–2010) - Historic England There are an estimated 27,000 public parks in Britain and 2.6 billion visits to parks each year. Many of these parks are of historic and cultural interest, and some 300 are registered as nationally important. For over a century, the vast majority of public parks have been provided and run by local authorities but these authorities have no statutory duty to fund or maintain public parks. The Heritage Lottery Fund’s new State of UK Public Parks (September 2016) highlights that “92 per cent of park managers report their maintenance budgets have reduced in the past three years and 95 per cent expect their funding will continue to reduce”. In July 2016 the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee announced an inquiry into public parks to examine concerns that public parks are under threat. Historic England commissioned Dr Katy Layton-Jones, a cultural historian and historical consultant, to provide an overview of past public park funding models, and their management. Her research findings show a long history of funding problems but also the important role of local authorities in developing, and often rescuing parks, and delivering public parks for all over 170 years. Historic England has included this research report in its submission to the inquiry as in looking for new funding solutions we also need to understand why funding issues have arisen. The research report will be of interest to local authority portfolio holders, parks teams, friends groups and urban historians. Download the document here National Review of Research Priorities for Urban Parks, Designed Landscapes, and Open Spaces - English Heritage This report provides a précis of recent research in the field of urban parks, designed landscapes and open spaces. Communities and park managers have endured decades of uncertainty regarding their local parks and many have lost battles to protect historic green spaces from development, vandalism and decline; suspicion and scepticism are common sentiments among communities, local authorities, and even professional bodies. While the historical significance of these landscapes is being challenged, the need for English Heritage to research the history and reassert the historical and contemporary significance of urban parks and designed landscapes is pressing. Only by returning to the history of urban parks and open spaces can English Heritage develop a reputable and trusted approach to their protection. The document can be downloaded here IWUN What planners and local government policymakers need to know This briefing draws together findings from a three year research project1 examining the many ways in which ‘urban nature’ supports mental wellbeing. It used a variety of research methods to understand how natural and green spaces across the city of Sheffield relieve mental stress and help residents to thrive. The purpose of this briefing is to inform people working in spatial planning, or whose work connects with planners, of the evidence from our research and what it means for practice. While our research was based in Sheffield, we have drawn out lessons that apply more broadly to urban areas in the UK. Download the document here Groundwork Communities taking action - Groundwork This report is based on a survey of community groups and interviews with community group leaders. The views and experiences that community groups involved in this research shared paint a picture of the social infrastructure that those taking action in their communities value and rely on. Up and down the UK, people are getting together and making things happen in their communities. From community gardens to youth clubs, Friends of Parks groups to local sports clubs, people give up their time to improve the quality of life in their neighbourhood. While the government’s Civil Society Strategy says that it wants people to be empowered to take responsibility for their neighbourhoods, it pays little attention to the voices and needs of community groups who are doing just that. This research set out to address three questions: What motivates people to get involved in action in their communities? What benefits are realised as a result of community action? What support and resources are needed to enable communities to take action in their local area? The report can be downloaded here UK natural capital accounts: 2019 Estimates of the financial and societal value of natural resources to people in the UK. Office of National Statistics Link is here Urban green spaces raise nearby house prices by an average of £2,500 - Office of National Statistics Urban properties close to public parks, gardens and playing fields are more expensive, analysis reveals. Explore your area to see how much green space adds to the value of your property. The link is here Why Greenway Parks Cause Greater Gentrification While green spaces are often linked to gentrification, new research shows certain types and characteristics of urban parks play a much greater role than others. The link is here ‘Nature prescriptions’ would be cheap way to improve country’s mental health, study finds Link to article here For green cities to become mainstream, we need to learn from local success stories and scale up Link to article here Villiers: Net zero ambition will drive growth in UK green spaces Link to article here The Closer You Live To Nature The Happier You’ll Be, Study Finds Link to article is here


    Public Speaking With the obsessions have come a number of opportunities to speak to a wide range of community groups and organisations over the years. This has ranged from Local Arts Societies, Regional Gardens Trusts, Women's Institutes to Church Groups, Rotary Clubs, Townswomen's Guilds, Sports Clubs, U3A, Museums, History Societies, Academic Institutions and lobbyist organisations. I was on the approved list of speakers for the County Durham Federation of Women's Institutes and am currently on the Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Federation's approved list of speakers, as well as a regular with local U3A's. For filming and commercial activities, please contact Past Preservers, link is here I offer a light hearted but entertaining talk which groups find interesting, informative and enjoy. Several talks are now available. Much more on my Facebook Page here NB: I am now an accredited lecturer for the Arts Society. Click here for my talk at Directory Day. Recent reviews Appleby in Westmorland Arts Society - 'Excellent' Bowdon Arts Society - 'Very Good' Lymington Arts Society - ' Very Good' Harrow Arts Society - ''Excellent' Henfield Arts Society - ' Excellent' Winchester Arts Society - ' Very Good' Cranleigh Arts Society - 'Excellent' North Hertfordshire Arts Society - 'Outstanding' North London Arts Society - 'Very Good' Marlow Arts Society - 'Outstanding' Lomond and Argyll Arts Society - 'Excellent' Cheam Arts Society - 'Excellent' North Hertfordshire Arts Society - 'Excellent' Gainsborough & District Arts Society - 'Outstanding - his enthusiasm knows no bounds' Newick Arts Society - 'Outstanding - a joyous and celebratory end to our season' Halifax Arts Society - 'Excellent' A few quotes from societies:- Paul Rabbitts treated us to a lovely happy lecture all about his beloved Bandstands. Our members all remember when it was usual to have beautiful Bandstands in our parks and at the seaside promenade, where we could sit in deckchairs and enjoy music. He explained how so many had fallen into disrepair and disappeared. Paul then showed us some great slides of Bandstands, rescued, restored and re-erected, mostly with Lottery money. Paul made us feel included and involved in a very personal and amusing lecture and our members all seemed very happy with his lecture. The atmosphere within the auditorium suggested a captivated audience. Members appreciated Paul's friendly, relaxed presentation style and thoroughly enjoyed the subject matter. Paul is enthusiastic about his subject, particularly bandstands and will include a park(s) in a Society's locality. Delivered with enthusiasm, was engaging, lively and quickly made friends with his audience. A very informative lecture which was well organised and ran at a good pace. His inclusion of Welsh Parks was appreciated, particularly as he visited some and incorporated them into his talk. He spoke without notes which helped his engagement with the audience. A number of people would like to see him return. Talk ONE - Bandstands - History, Decline and Revival A talk on the history of the Bandstand, from their origins in the mid-18th century to their heyday during the Victorian park making era, and their subsequent decline post World War Two. This talk is a slide show that follows this fascinating history and the recent revival of the bandstand in our public parks. This is a highly illustrative talk that engages many and fascinates the listener and has had excellent feedback from those who have heard this engaging talk. THIS IS A VERY POPULAR TALK Talk TWO - A Concise History of our Great British Parks This really is a fascinating insight into the history of one of our greatest ever institutions - our great British public park. We have all enjoyed them at some time in our lives but what do we really know about them? their origins? did they really start in the Victorian period or do they go even further back? This talk illustrates their origins, talks about the need for parks, the Victorian heyday, what makes a great park, with examples of lodges, lakes, bandstands, fountains and floral displays, to their great decline in the sixties and seventies. However, the subsequent revival has led to a major shift in interest in our parks and once again we are much in love with them. This is also a highly illustrative talk accompanied by slides with examples of parks from across the UK and their designs and architecture. This is a particularly popular talk and always goes down well as we can nearly always recount our own experiences with our own local park. "for the first time in a long time, I would have happily listened for another hour" "Quite one of the best lectures" "One of the best lectures we have been to. Very Amusing" The Arts Society Lomond and Argyll 2019 Talk THREE - Parks, People and Places - A Life in Landscape This is really a talk about me!! from my beginnings as a landscape architect in Jersey to Carlisle City Council, to Middlesbrough Council, into consultancy at Halcrow and then as Head of Parks at Watford. Its a journey through my career, telling the stories of many of the small to large projects over the years I have worked on - multi-million pound park restoration projects to small scale community projects with local unemployed men, to wandering around the Scottish Borders or the Isle of Wight looking at allotments and play areas. I also have designed many private gardens over the years and tell the stories of some of the more bizarre requests from clients, to more recent escapades in writing and researching bandstands across the country. 25 years and counting, it is another talk that is engaging and enlightens the listener into the world of the landscape architect and parks manager with a weird slant on why I am obsessed with bandstands and is also illustrated with slides. Talk FOUR - Cassiobury, The Ancient Seat of the Earl's of Essex One of the remnants of the great lost estates of the United Kingdom, Cassiobury Park is now the largest park in Hertfordshire, and the principal park of its primary town, Watford, covering an area twice the size of Hyde Park in London. But this is no ordinary town park. In 1661, Arthur, the 2nd Baron Capel, was made the Earl of Essex and, by 1668/69, he had moved to Cassiobury permanently. By 1707, Cassiobury was a significant estate, and Charles Bridgeman was employed at Cassiobury in the 1720s. In 1800, the 5th Earl of Essex employed James Wyatt to rebuild the house. Humphry Repton was employed at Cassiobury, and the landscape was captured by J. M. W. Turner in a number of paintings. By 1881, there were many deer in the park, often traded with the royal deer parks at Richmond, Bushy and Windsor Great Park. By the beginning of the twentieth century, large areas of the park had been sold off to Watford Borough Council for public parkland. By 1921, the lease was surrendered and, in 1927, Cassiobury House was demolished. Much of the remaining land was bought by the council becoming further parkland for the expanding Borough of Watford. This talk tells the significant story of a remarkable estate, family and parkland that has never been told before. Talk FIVE - A History of London's Royal Parks London's royal parks are among its most beautiful and beloved spaces: just as much as the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace or St Pancras Station, the mere mention of Hyde or Regent's Park is enough to evoke the capital in all its glory for residents and tourists alike. They have a grand history - some were royally owned as far back as the Norman conquest, others were acquired by Henry VIII during the Reformation - and since being opened to the public during the eighteenth century, they have hosted some of London's great events, including the Great Exhibition and innumerable jubilees and celebrations. This talk tells the story of all eight of the parks from the point when they were acquired by the monarchy until the present day, including the major historic moments and events with which they are associated. Talk SIX - Decimus Burton - Gentleman Architect Decimus Burton was born in 1800 Decimus Burton FRS FRSA FSA FRIBA (30 September 1800 – 14 December 1881) was one of the foremost English architects and urban designers of the 19th century. He was the foremost Georgian and Victorian architect in the Roman revival, Greek revival, Georgian neoclassical and Regency styles. Yet he is hardly ever mentioned, let alone in the same breath as Wren, Nash, Hawksmoor. Yet he should be. Architect of Regency buildings at Regent's Park, London Zoo, Kew Gardens, Hyde Park, Phoenix Park, Dublin, Tunbridge Wells and Fleetwood in Lancashire. His Athenaeum Club on Pall Mall is one of his finest buildings. But what do we know of him? This talk tells the story of Decimus Burton, one of our finest architects. Talk SEVEN - Leighton Buzzard in 50 Buildings / Watford in 50 Buildings / Luton in 50 Buildings Ever wondered what really makes our towns and cities so memorable? It is often the buildings and the architecture and their development from Middle Ages to modern day. Our buildings shape our towns and cities. Based on the 'In 50 Buildings' Series, I have written books on Watford, Luton and Leighton Buzzard as well as co-authored books on Windsor & Eton, Manchester and Salford, I can tailor a talk to each of these towns or cities illustrated by slides and stories associated with each building. Talk EIGHT - Parkitecture: the Buildings and Monuments of Public Parks So what makes a great park? what are the ingredients of a great park? what is it that we enjoy when we visit? The legacy of our great Victorian parks includes the fantastic features within them - drinking fountains, bandstands, park lodges, palm houses, boating lakes, cafes, bridges, mansions, museums, glorious gates, statues, monuments and sculpture. I call this 'Parkitecture'. The architecture of the park. Join me on a journey through some of Great Britain's finest public parks and enjoy the feast of features within them - parkitecture! Cost and availability Please contact me for costs as they vary depending on the group, size and location. Mileage is charged at 27p per mile. Each talks lasts approximately 60 minutes but again can be tailored to suit. Evenings are preferred but also occasional daytime availability too (subject to work commitments). If not already booked, short term notice can also be catered for. All I ask for usually is a screen or a blank wall to display the slideshow which is powerpoint. I have a laptop and projector with extension. Telephone 0791 5602358 or email to book.

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