Alexandra Park is Hastings' largest formal park 44 hectares (109 acres) stretching for 2.5 miles through the heart of the town. It consists of the lower formal gardens and the more wild northern wooded areas.Alexandra Park received its first Green Flag Award in 2005 and continue to retain this status.Alexandra Park is famed for its arboretum (tree collection) and has one of the best and largest collections of rare and champion trees in Britain. Grade II Listed (Historic England listing 1001384)Prior to being opened as a public space, the area supported a number of hop gardens
Alexandra Park opened under the name of St Andrew's Gardens in 1864 and has been expanded in as series of increments.
Robert Marnock Design
In 1877 renowned landscape gardener Robert Marnock began one of his last works, introducing plants and shrubs to the park on a budget of £250. Marnock had designed the layout for Dunorlan Park, Tunbridge Wells, and Sheffield Botanical Gardens as well as Warwick Castle Rose Garden and Peacock Garden. Unfortunately there are no surviving plans or drawings indicating the extent of Robert Marnock's work.About two thirds of the lower park is still enclosed by iron railings which survive from Marnock's scheme in the 1870s.
Dedication and Renaming
In June 1882 the Prince and Princess of Wales dedicated (and renamed) the park to Alexandra Park.
Storm Tunnel Project
In 1998, the first lawn was closed to the public, being used as the 'launch' point for Tunnel Boring Machines being used for the Southern Water Storm Drain project. Following restoration work, which included replacing the pillars at the Queens Road entrance to the park and demolition of an old toilet block, the shaft and associated works are all concealed behind a hatch embedded in the grass on the first lawn.
In 2004, the park underwent a replanting scheme and was formally opened by Charlie Dimmock on the 24th of April 2004. The event was commemorated by the planting of holly and cherry trees.
During 2013, a group was set up to return the greenhouse adjacent to St Helen's Road in the upper portion of the park back into use. The group coalesced into the Alexandra Park Greenhouse Group and aimed to get the teak and iron framed greenhouse fully operational as a community greenhouse. Since taking over the greenhouse, it has hosted the Education Futures Trust, an early learning group; East Coast College assisted education students who established vegetable and herb growing areas, pupils from Sacred Heart School who studied the greenhouse’s carnivorous plant collection, and Halloween events. Originally the greenhouse was utilised to produce the plants and flowers for various displays in the borough but fell into disuse during the 1980s. The group has managed to get power laid into the greenhouse and the roof-vents operational, among other repairs and in August 2020 launched an appeal to raise funds to complete the upper glazing with reinforced glass and repair the cast iron ventilation system.
References & Notes
- HBC Website
- Daily Telegraph 2nd August 2011
- Historic Hastings, J. Manwaring Baines pg. Drawing 241-242 ISBN: 0948869003 ISBN: 9780948869006 Amazon
- 1066 Online
- Raising the roof – how you can help restore Alexandra Park’s 1930s greenhouse to is former glory – Hastings In Focus, accessdate: 23 August 2020
- Greenhouse - Alexandra Park Greenhouse Group, accessdate: 23 August 2020