Alexandra Park, Oldham

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P1000640Alexandra Park was reccommended in a comment on one of my previous posts, by Sarah who coordinates Parents For Play a fantastic Oldham based charity raising funds for a multisensory indoor play centre. The beautiful weather today persuaded me to make the trip round the M60 – not an inspiring journey at the best of times, and the last time I went to Oldham, Mr Parklover’s car got knicked. So I figured today was a good opportunityto start associating Oldham with something other than a boring motorway journey and a missing Golf. I’m so glad I did because this park is absolutely fantastic.

The local council don’t make it particularly easy to find Alexandra Park, I only saw 1 signpost and that was after I’d already sailed past 1 carpark – lucky that I’m good at memorising maps! However, it is well worth seeking out this stunning park. It had a huge injection of cash a few years ago to give it an overhaul and it reopended in 2004. It can only be described as “grand”. I love that the old original buildings have been restored or adapted rather than scrapped, it really shows what can be acheived with the necessary P1000629investment. There are statues, pavillions and shelters of various types at every turn – practical too, as you’d have plenty of places to run to if the weather turned. There are huge expanses of grass and wide pebbly paths. There are some steps, but in most places paths are also available so it’s accessible for buggies and wheelchairs.

There are beautifully kept gardens, bowling greens and tennis courts. A team of gardeners were working on the flower beds which surround one of the fountains. Scaffolding surrounded the observatory, which looks like it has been carefuly restored and was having a coat of paint on its frames.

The playarea is very pleasant and has the elusive paddling pool that I’ve been searching for! It was empty – I hope that’s because it’s October and not because it’s not used any more. Does anyone out there know? The paddling pool with its built in boat forms a barrier between play areas for younger and older children and there’s a toilet block just next to it. This is modern and clean inside, but converted from an original building – it even says “girls” and “boys” on the doors!

P1000625After we’d tested out the play area and loos, we went for a look at the large  boating lake which is surrounded by plants, paths and fishermen. We stood looking at the ducks and geese – they obviously thought we had brought bread for them, and swam right over to us en masse. “They’ll have to eat the water instead,” CJ suggested helpfully. From here we headed down towards the boathouse cafe and, as if by magic, I found myself inside asking for a whippy cone. CJ and I then sat on a bench by the lake sharing our £1 treat (£1.20 if you want to go crazy and have a flake in as well) before going down to the “shore” type area from where, presumably, boats are launched in summer. CJ busied herself sticking her hands in the dirt and I took the chance to have a little sit down and admire the views.P1000639

I found myself reflecting on the effects that all the talk of spending cuts in “the current economic climate” might have on our beloved parks. It concerns me that they will be an easy area to cut back on with little public outcry. This would surely be a travesty. The effects of increased investment in our parks in the last few years have been fantastic – a cursory glance through the categories of this blog will demonstrate a plethora of beautifully kept havens, with state of the art play areas and toilet facilities that you are not scared or repulsed to use. There are people employed as park wardens, park rangers and gardeners, making users feel safer with their presence. The effects of this investment will no doubt be difficult to prove, but are surely numerous. Parks are so important in urban areas, because they just make people’s surroundings and therefore their daily lives, more pleasant. I recently read an article here, which refers to research suggesting many health benefits of living near green spaces. Furthermore, these are areas where all kinds of people come to relax and socialise and they are important for social cohesion. Today we saw everyone from tiny babies to the very elderley, people from many ethnic backgrounds, people on bikes and people in wheelchairs, people chillling out and people running around, all enjoying the facilities.

As the writer of a blog entitled “Parklover” I am clearly biased, but I would hate to see the upkeep of our parks and playgrounds slip, as I firmly believe they have a hugely positive effect on communities and their physical and mental health.They connect people – I rarely visit one without chatting to someone about their dog, or child, or the weather. They can be relaxing or exhilarating, tranquil or buzzing depending on where and when you visit. Most importantly they are free and they are for everyone. They are worth the investment. Alexandra Park, with it’s feeling of grandeur, is a fabulous example of what investment can achieve. I loved it here and will definitely return.

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20 Responses to Alexandra Park, Oldham

  1. Lindy says:

    looks beautiful! Will have to check it out!

    • parklover says:

      It’s gorgeous, really grand. I’m quite excited to have found a paddling pool, will def return in summer next year armed with a towel!

  2. Sian says:

    We like it there – I did the Race for Life there 2 years ago and it was a gorgeous run.

  3. This is really lovely. I’ve never been although I do come from Manchester originally and visit my family there every 5 or 6 weeks or so. Thank you for this great review.

    CJ xx

    • parklover says:

      Thanks for reading and for your positive comments. I was just looking at the photos of your recent visit to Scotland, they’re beautiful. A part of the world I don’t know at all, but really should visit.

  4. notsuchayummymummy says:

    As you can see I’m quite behind on blogs at the moment! I’m from Oldham and we do the Race for Life at Alexandra Park every year. I love it there and if I’m back at my parents I often go on my own for a wander. It has changed so much over the last few years with the money that’s been spent on it and it now looking fantastic.

  5. Paul says:

    Hello,
    I grew up in Oldham and spent many happy childhood years from the mid-sixties ’til early 70’s in Alexandra Park. I am very glad to hear it is being looked after now, it fell into disuse in the late 70’s. Was the built in boat in the paddling pool a sort of concrete passenger liner? That pool seemed so deep when I was a kid…..I went back as an adult in 1984 and it didn’t even come up to my knees!!!
    I have lived in America since 1980 and came upon your posting while surfing the net. Great post thanks for the photos that brought back good memories.

    Paul

    P.S. 1 pound for an ice cream?????Good Grief !

    • parklover says:

      Hi Paul,
      Glad I’ve helped you reminisce about happy childhood times! The boat in the paddling pool is indeed a concrete passenger liner, I’m looking forwar to going back in the summer.
      I guess in the 60’s and 70’s £1 would have been a bit steep for an icecream – although we did share it!
      Kath

  6. bosinali says:

    we go every week atleast twice with kids and we go especially for the best cafe and good padlo boats and now everything has disappeared and no one does the boats anymore and now its a no-go area because weird people be there and they stay there all the time and now there no entertainment there are only sight seeing places and no body has thought about the kids and the public people and so can anyone who knows the council officers please enquiery about thuis because we come from ashton especially for the boats and delicious food
    kind regards !!

    • Parklover says:

      Hi, last time I went the cafe was indeed closed for renovations. We’d headed over to that side of the park for an ice cream so we were a bit disappointed! I would imagine that the cafe/boats will be back for this summer. I have to say, I’ve always found the park safe and friendly. I love the fact that it still has a paddling pool in the summer.

  7. Zumbaba says:

    Alexandra Park really is one of the most beautiful parks in the country, a real hidden gem.
    I don’t know if its because people in Oldham don’t have many dogs, but it is one of the cleanest parks underfoot I know of – which is always a real concern with kids. The selfish mess left in many other parks means they are out of bounds, but rarely have a problem in Oldham.
    There is now a free weekly 5km parkrun every Saturday at 9am for all abilities no matter how fast or slow, some even walk it.

    • Parklover says:

      Hi, thanks for your comments, we’re big fans of ALexandra Park – and also fans of Parkruns. I haven’t done the one at Alexandra Park, Heaton Park is my local one. If anyone’s interested in Parkruns, you need to register at http://www.parkrun.com before doing your first one, and the you can do any parkrun anywhere, any saturday, free!

  8. Pingback: UK Travel Blog » Hidden parks & gardens of Manchester

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  10. tidi says:

    it truly is a sad thing that the council had put up ads explaining that the cafe was opening soon again with new owners but now the ads have dissapppeared so what was the point in throwing the old owners out because they had extremely good food and everything was clean and i would like them to come back and open the cafe again.

  11. has says:

    I GO TO THIS PARK I LIVE NEAR IT AND IM GOING TODAY NOW

  12. i like alexander park…..its iteresting in new playing things.

  13. Meg Hill says:

    Hi, I found your blog while trying to find the paddling pool opening times. Don’t suppose you know, do you?

    • Parklover says:

      Hi Meg – sorry I don’t know any exact times. I don’t think I was able to find any times myself last time I went, I’m not sure any are published. Every time I’ve been on a sunny it’s been open (and very busy!)

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