Car Park, Tennis Courts and Sports Courts open October to March - 8am to 4pm, April to May - 8am to 7pm, June to September - 8am to 9pm, Toilets open Summer - 8am to 6.30pm, Winter - 8am to 3.30pm, Splash Pad open end of May to September - 11am to 6pm
8.3 ha award winning destination park in Bushey. 5 routes and 7 points of interest
Site of historical interest
A brief history...
By 1912 Bushey’s population had grown to over 7,000 from well under 1,000 in 1812. King George V had succeeded to the throne in May 1910 and there was a mood of optimism in the air. There was growing awareness of the importance of access to outdoor exercise in clean, fresh air for the benefit of overall public health and well-being. Ebenezer Howard, the founder of Letchworth Garden City, had originated the novel idea that local authorities should own land for public recreation.
Bushey Urban District Council (BUDC), newly formed in 1906, made one of their first major projects the acquisition of land in Bushey for use as a public recreation ground. Two fields at the bottom of the north-facing slope to the southeast of Coldharbour Lane were chosen – Biggs Meads Field and the field next to it totalled about 11 acres. The fields had been used for hay production and rough grazing, but were always too wet in winter and too dry in summer. For many years, the tenant farmer had allowed children to use the fields for ball games.
The Council negotiated a price of £1,000 with the Church Commissioners. Contractors then put in land drains and footpaths, marked out football and cricket pitches, installed play equipment and built a refreshment hut, changing rooms and a caretaker’s lodge at the entrance to the site in King George Avenue. The work was begun in the summer of 1911 and the park opened to the public on Saturday 5 May 1912.
In 1912 a bowling green was created for public use in part of the Recreation Ground – fast becoming popularly known as the ‘Rec’. The bowling green is now home to the Bushey Bowling Club. Then, in August 1914 the unthinkable happened. England declared war on Germany. By 1916, the sports pitches were turned over to allotments. They were cultivated by the older men and the women while the young men were by now being conscripted to fight in the battlefields of France and Belgium.
In the early 1920s, two more fields were acquired, thus doubling the Rec to 22 acres. Plans for an open-air swimming pool were discussed and tenders invited. The pool was built, filled with chlorinated water, and in July 1925 opened amid much civic ceremony. Tennis courts and a putting green were installed and extra play equipment was placed at the high end of the enlarged Rec.
Between the two World Wars, and for some years after, many summer events were held in the Rec. The annual show of the Bushey Horticultural Society attracted large crowds. Every August, a travelling fair was a regular visitor and still comes every year. The central refreshment pavilion plied visitors with teas, biscuits and confectionery. Sadly, due partly to vandalism, it was forced to close in the 1960s and remained so until refurbishment and enlargement in the 1990s.
By the 1950s a purification and filtration system was installed in the pool. This resulted in much increased use, and by the hot summer of 1959, time-limited sessions were needed to cope with the crowds. A popular event was the end-of-season swimming gala held each August. The exceptionally hot summer of 1976 was the high point in the popularity of the open-air pool, but by the late 1970s the heating and filtration system was creaking with age. The run of bad summers and ever-rising maintenance and running costs eventually led to closure of the pool in 1989. It was demolished and the site levelled and grassed over in 1993.
From the mid-1960s, lack of public money affected the ability of BUDC and (from 1974) Hertsmere Borough Council, to maintain the Rec. The play equipment, installed in 1911, had long since ended its useful life. In winter many of the paths were waterlogged due to blocked drains. Vandalism frequently disfigured the shuttered pavilion, and dog mess littered the paths and grass. But dramatic change for the better was around the corner!
In the early 1990s, local authorities were authorised to use part of the money from ‘The Right to Buy’ scheme to improve and renew local infrastructure. The Right to Buy scheme allowed council housing tenants to buy their own council house. Hertsmere decided to allocate £526,000 to improvement works for the Rec. After a few years of muddy chaos, the result in 1998 was a complete transformation of what had by now become known as The Park. The land drains were renewed and extended and the old footpaths were widened and relaid.
From the main entrance up to and beyond the old pavilion, the avenue of lime, oak and beech trees was extended up to the south-east entrance in Somers Way and plane trees added. Two pairs of county-standard tennis courts replaced the dilapidated 1920’s courts. The courts are now a centre of excellence for tennis. An enclosed and much enlarged children’s play area with excellent equipment was installed. For toddlers and young children, the paddling pool was rebuilt to the best modern standards and a sandpit provided. Secure public toilets were also installed and, for the first time, outdoor art was introduced into the park. The old pavilion was rebuilt as a fully equipped café.
Site of historical interest
There is evidence of two or possibly three concentric ditches and banks in the meadow area at the top end of the park near the copse. These are approximately 40 metres in diameter and although clearly manmade, their date and use is unknown.
The Flexible Family’ sculpture created by the artist Irene Frolich-Wiener was first installed in July 1998.
Health Walk Start Point
Every Thursday at 10.30am, easy/moderate walk, 45 minutes to an hour, 2/3 miles, moderate hills, possible stiles
To find out more please visit the health walks website at;
Site of historical interest
The park opened in 1912 to commemorate the coronation of King George V and in 1926 the park was extended to its current size. It is still possible to make out the three fields and associated boundaries which make up the park area. Historically, the park once lay within the manor of Bushey and was farmland used for pasture and arable. In the mid-19th century all the fields were used as meadow for animal grazing and a hay crop. There is evidence of ridge and furrow in the middle field clearly showing that arable crops were grown here between the 11th and 16th centuries.
Site of historical interest
The Hertfordshire Sites and Monuments Record show that the site below the copse and meadow area is slightly undulating, possibly terraced or merely disturbed by some earlier activity such as clay digging. The nearby deep hollow in the copse area may have been an old clay or gravel pit.
Site of historical interest
The ridge and furrow marks in the middle field clearly show that arable crops were grown here sometime between the 12th and 16th centuries.
Block bookings for the tennis courts can be made in advance for a fee otherwise the courts are free for use on a first come first served basis. In busy times we ask that people respect other users and restrict their games to one hour only. Please contact Parks & Amenities for block bookings on Freephone 0800 731 1810.
The tree sculpture in the meadow area was carved on site from native oak using chainsaw and chisel, during May to July 1998.
This was completed prior to erection by local artist Jennifer Ulrich. The carving depicts leaves, caterpillars, snails and beetles to reflect the energy of small creatures, which thrive in uncultivated spaces,and is known as the ‘Caterpillar Column’.
Tree seat – The Friends raised funds for a bespoke circular tree seat which was created by local blacksmith, Steven Rook. The seat comprises a series of oak motifs created by Steven in his forge and welded onto a frame.
The meadow was reintroduced in 1998 following a wildflower survey. It was designated a site of county importance in 2000 and provides a valuable habitat for insects and small mammals. It is managed in the traditional way by a cut once a year in late summer. More information about the meadow can be seen on an interpretation panel nearby.
The park contains many facilities including a 250m2 splash pad (new for 2017), large play area, challenging play equipment for teenagers, multi sports court, kickaround goals, tennis courts, table tennis tables, outdoor fitness equipment, sculptures, meadow with copse, open grassland, a cafe and free car parking.
A wide events programme continues, including the annual dog show, marathon, teddy bears’ picnic and family fun days. Regular activities are held with charities and local community groups.
The Friends of King George Recreation Ground have represented residents and park users and acted as a conduit between them and the council since 1997. The Friends have been successful in raising funds for several projects including a unique and beautiful wrought iron circular seat around an old oak tree, commissioned from a local artist-blacksmith.
The park is also a designated 'destination' site for inclusive play.
Distance 0.8 km
Steps taken 1080
Distance 0.4 km
Steps taken 476
Distance 0.6 km
Steps taken 771
Free Car parking is provided at the main car park accessed from King George Avenue.
Additional parking is available at the overflow car park off Chiltern Avenue next to the Bowls Club.
Please can we ask that you respect our neighbours and not park in the surrounding areas.
The nearest station is Bushey main line. The park is approximately 1.5km/mile from the station.
The 142 and 258 buses stop at the station and in Bushey High Street and Melbourne Road.
The 500, 550 and 551 buses stop in Chiltern Avenue.
Cycle racks are provided near the cafe and multi sports court.
17 February to 17 February, from 9:00amThe run starts next to the children’s play area. For more information, please see www.parkrun.org.uk/kinggeorge-juniors 2km Junior Parkruns are held at 9am every Sunday of the year and are free to enter. Please register at www.parkrun.org.uk before your first run. Junior parkruns are for 4 to 14 year olds. Whether male or female, fit or unfit, able bodied or not, everyone is welcome to take part. It’s not racing, it’s about taking part whether you walk, jog or run. Children under 11 must be accompanied to/from the event by a responsible adult. The adult who must remain in attendance for the duration of the event.
24 February to 24 February, from 9:00amThe run starts next to the children’s play area. For more information, please see www.parkrun.org.uk/kinggeorge-juniors 2km Junior Parkruns are held at 9am every Sunday of the year and are free to enter. Please register at www.parkrun.org.uk before your first run. Junior parkruns are for 4 to 14 year olds. Whether male or female, fit or unfit, able bodied or not, everyone is welcome to take part. It’s not racing, it’s about taking part whether you walk, jog or run. Children under 11 must be accompanied to/from the event by a responsible adult. The adult who must remain in attendance for the duration of the event.
3 March to 3 March, from 9:00amThe run starts next to the children’s play area. For more information, please see www.parkrun.org.uk/kinggeorge-juniors 2km Junior Parkruns are held at 9am every Sunday of the year and are free to enter. Please register at www.parkrun.org.uk before your first run. Junior parkruns are for 4 to 14 year olds. Whether male or female, fit or unfit, able bodied or not, everyone is welcome to take part. It’s not racing, it’s about taking part whether you walk, jog or run. Children under 11 must be accompanied to/from the event by a responsible adult. The adult who must remain in attendance for the duration of the event.