St Ann's Well Gardens

A childhood sanctuary

By John Palmer

A second home

This park takes me back to the early 1970s. Then I was around 10 years old. I lived in nearby Addison Road in a B&B with my father and two brothers. In the year we stayed at the B&B, which we were not allowed to stay in during the day, I and my brothers regarded the park as a sanctuary - a second home.

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Photo:St Ann's Well Gardens

St Ann's Well Gardens

Photo by Tony Mould

Photo:St Ann's Well Gardens

St Ann's Well Gardens

Photo by Tony Mould


Ice cream for 2d

On many occasions, particularly during the summer of  1970 and 1971, we would spend a whole day in the park, basing ourselves in the wooden cafe, which was situated in the same place as the present cafe. I remember my aunt often giving me two new pence to buy an ice-cream there. The children's play area was not fenced then and I spent many happy hours playing in the playground's sand pit.

Photo:St Ann's Well Gardens

St Ann's Well Gardens

Photo by Tony Mould

Photo:St Ann's Well Gardens

St Ann's Well Gardens

Photo by Tony Mould

A shed for rainy days

There was a tan-brown-coloured concrete shed at the top of the park - around the corner from the children's play area - where I spent many a rainy day. On one occasion I fell from the roof of this shed, sustaining an injury, and I was subsequently taken to a hospital in Windlesham Road. I particularly remember Christmas 1970. That year it snowed heavily. I spent many hours sliding on the snow on the bank near the playground's slide. What memories.

This page was added on 25/06/2013.
Comments about this page

Hello John, I have many memories of St. Anne's Wells. The concrete 'shed' that you speak of was an Air Raid Shelter, and there were two of them. One was at the top of the children's playground area and the other was lower down nearer the road. They were brick built and very substantial. I used to visit there regularly in the 1950s.

By Peter Guy (28/06/2013)

I share those memories of the air raid shelters in the 1950s. It is surprising how long they remained there after the hostilities were over. They were eventually ungated and had an unpleasant smell inside. I remember that a total of three of the very solid units were built, which was quite an achievement at a time of limited resources. Peter, your name rings a bell with me.

By Pat Benham (04/08/2013)

I used to play in this park from 1961, when we moved to Lansdowne Road, until 1964, when we moved to Mile Oak. It was a wonderful park. At the time, the greens up from the bowling green were all grass tennis courts. The cafe opposite had a wooden verandah with slats where people's money would drop through. Because I was small, I'd crawl around underneath collecting what I could. I'd also collect up all the Corona bottles from the bins and take them back to the cafe for 3d return on each bottle. I'd do the same along the seafront with Coca Cola bottles. There was a park keeper called Parkie (the name for all park keepers at the time) and you had to watch you didn't fall foul of him or let him see you scrabbling about under the verandah. I couldn't afford the tennis courts, though Mum treated me sometimes and taught me tennis. Instead, I used to whack a ball against the wall of the garages at the Park Gates flats in Somerhill Road. I loved that! Better than the courts. It was always a challenge on the swings to swing as high as the bar, or even over it. I was never daring enough to go over, but I saw it done. Nearby, the teenagers used to sit chatting and I longed to be in their group. I was 11 or so and they were only about 13 or 14 but seemed so grown up to me. It was a wonderful place to spend your childhood and I was there all the time, mostly on my own.

By Renia Simmonds (14/02/2016)

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