Stratford Park (Green Flag)

Stroud District Council

Stratford Park is a good example of what a park in a medium-sized town can achieve. The park is viewed by Stroud Council as its main leisure resource in addition to facilities such as the swimming pool and the local museum. The park has a large variety of planting and ornamental ponds. "It’s the sheer diversity of the things in it that make it such a well-loved park," according to Stroud’s public space manager Carlos Novoth. He adds: "We think that having the Green Flag is simply a by-product of running a good-quality park."

Stroud is surrounded by Cotswold countryside, but there is only one major park in the town itself. As a result, the park has to offer something for everyone. The park has tried to draw in a wide variety of people. The council recently installed a large skate ramp by the park entrance. Although graffiti is rigorously eradicated in all other parts of the park, it is allowed on the skate area. "This is what the users want," says Novoth.

The park has good sports facilities. It has three senior and four junior football pitches and two cricket squares. It has six tennis courts, four of which are floodlit, and a basket ball court and an all-weather synthetic sports surface. The council recently spent £10,000 on improving the bowling greens. There is also a miniature railway that is kept on track by a team of dedicated volunteers.

The park has attractive formal planting, with 4,000 sq m of shrubs and flower borders. The trees are well maintained and the park has virtually eliminated the use of chemical weedkillers in keeping the paths clear.

The park is proud of its wildlife areas — wooded areas with broad-leafed trees and plants such as wild garlic. The wood was developed at the same time as the nearby Westonbirt Arboretum and it is believed that many of the finer trees were obtained from the same sources as those at Westonbirt. Paths are maintained for special woodland walks. The ornamental lake is also maintained to a high standard and is fished by local angling clubs. The park has the assistance of an active friends group.

Because of its central location in the town, the park is used as a venue for various events. At weekends in the summer the bandstand is used for traditional bands — mainly brass bands. The park also hosts the Stroud Show, which is primarily aimed at children.

The presence of the museum on the park site means that the park is often used by school parties, for visits, picnics and educational talks.

The park managers have a programme of continual development. They are keen to restore the Victorian gardens and the orangery. "We’d like to use the orangery as a café or for growing oranges," says Novoth. "We’d like to get voluntary groups to grow fresh produce in the garden. We’ve identified some possible sources of funding. It would be great if produce from the park could be sold in local shops and cafés."

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