Joy as new Peter Pan statue unveiled in popular park

A statue and water feature was unveiled with a splash by Stephen (Swampy) Berry

The statue and water feature was unveiled by Stephen (Swampy) Berry. - Credit: Mick Howes

A popular clifftop park has marked a special milestone in style - with the unveiling of a new Peter Pan statue.

Overlooking Lowestoft seafront, Kensington Gardens is a popular recreational park that was opened in June 1922 as an extension to the esplanade.

The Mayor of Lowestoft opens the celebrations at Kensington Gardens.

The Mayor of Lowestoft, Alan Green, opens the centenary celebrations at Kensington Gardens. - Credit: Mick Howes

Earlier this month, the centenary was celebrated with numerous traditions recreated as 100 years was marked since the popular gardens first opened.

Complete with floral gardens, tennis courts, bowling greens, a boating lake and a tearoom and café with indoor and outdoor seating, the park is owned and managed by Lowestoft Town Council.

Punch & Judy entertained the crowds.

Punch & Judy entertained the crowds. - Credit: Mick Howes

With the Friends of Kensington Gardens having helped to maintain the gardens in Kensington Road, south Lowestoft since 2018, they have aimed to make the historic public place a garden to be proud of.

Storytelling with Get Suffolk Reading

Storytelling with Get Suffolk Reading. - Credit: Mick Howes

Secretary Kim Boundy, who started the group, said: "We wanted to mark this milestone in the gardens history – so we encouraged our volunteers, the stallholders and the café staff to dress up in 1920s costume.

Robert Breakspear, Jackie Pryke, Sally Breakspear and Stephen Berry Kensington Gardens

Robert Breakspear, Jackie Pryke, Sally Breakspear and Stephen Berry on the Kensington Gardens cake stall. - Credit: Mick Howes

"Our aim was also to bring back some of the old traditions that you would have seen at a fete at the time."

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Punch and Judy, Splat the rat, croquet and traditional crafts all made an appearance.

Diane Gooch playing croquet.

Diane Gooch playing croquet. - Credit: Mick Howes

Mrs Boundy added: "The 1st Pakefield scouts group made dolly pegs and the Marina Ukulele band serenaded us with their music.

"Some of the public even came dressed up as well which was really nice to see they had made an effort."

The Marina Ukulele band serenaded the crowds with their music.

The Marina Ukulele band serenaded the crowds with their music. - Credit: Mick Howes

With "a good stream of people" in the park for the event on June 11, Mrs Boundy said: "We were very pleased with the response.

"We raised quite a bit of money which will go back into the park to buy more plants or for other projects to enhance the gardens.

"A statue and water feature was unveiled with a splash by Stephen (Swampy) Berry - one of our regular members - who managed to fall into the pond after unveiling the statue.

The statue and water feature was unveiled by Stephen (Swampy) Berry.

The statue and water feature was unveiled by Stephen (Swampy) Berry. - Credit: Mick Howes

"I am told that it wasn’t intentional although it is not the first time he has fallen in – as he maintains the pond all year round.

"It is well stocked with fish and lilies to recreate how it looked years ago, as it used to be called the Japanese themed garden and was complete with a pagoda."

New statue

The sculpture was funded by Lowestoft Town Council and the Friends of Kensington Gardens, and includes a solar-panel powered water pump.

Mrs Boundy added: "The statue is not a Disney Peter Pan as we didn’t want to replicate that. It is loosely based on an Arthur Rackham illustration and is more like a nymph.

"It was made locally by blacksmith John Mallett, is solar powered and the top represents allium flowers because we do have a lot in the gardens already and plan to plant more."

The Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, Lowestoft.

The Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, Lowestoft in 1984. - Credit: Archant Library

Previously there had been a statue of Peter Pan that had stood in the middle of a lake in Kensington Gardens, but while mystery surrounded its disappearance, it was thought to have been removed in 1985 and not replaced.

Mrs Boundy said: "In the past people have told us that they would like to see two things.

"One is the return of the statue in the pond and the other was the return of the electric boats, but I am doubtful that would ever happen.

Children and adults alike enjoy a ride on the former electric boats at Kensington Gardens in Lowesto

Children and adults alike enjoy a ride on the former electric boats at Kensington Gardens in Lowestoft in yester-year. - Credit: Archant Library

"The canoes however are popular on the boating lake and it’s lovely to see the area being used.”

People are welcome to join the 20 strong friends’ group, who meet on Thursday afternoons from 12.30pm to 2.30pm, with details on its Facebook page.

History

With Kensington Gardens formally opened to the public on June 8, 1922, it was created on the site of a former rubbish tip.

The area was scrubland owned by the Empire Hotel and was gifted to the town, with the intention of creating a public space.

With the start of the First World War the land was instead used to grow maize and potatoes for the war effort and was then developed into a park by former mayors Selwyn Humphrey and Arthur Tuttle.

They employed out of work servicemen when they returned from the Great War to "create the gardens we still enjoy today."