Play away

[Councillor Jess David with children from Bathwick St. Mary Church School. Credit:Tim Jones/As You See It Media and Rubicon Play]

Good to see Bath’s latest updated playground opening in time for Easter.

An extra-high swing, double slides and a castle for imaginative play are among the exciting new facilities for families to enjoy at the new Sydney Gardens play area which opened yesterday.

The complex has four zones to cater for all ages and abilities and has been created as part of the £3.4m park restoration project being carried out by Bath & North East Somerset Council.

The new equipment also includes an enclosed panna ring for football, a ping pong table, and a range of swings including one for accessible use. One of the two embankment slides is wide for twins, or for carers and disabled users, to enjoy together.

All children from nearby Bathwick St. Mary’s Church School were the first to try out the new equipment yesterday (April 4) as part of their morning playtime before the play area officially opened to the public.

Councillor Jess David, cabinet assistant for Neighbourhood Services, said: “It has been an absolute delight to see the first children having fun in this exciting new playground and I’m pleased that we’ve been able to open it in time for people to enjoy in the Easter holidays. Sydney Gardens is a historically important, special place that offers tranquillity and beauty in the heart of the city. The restoration will mean the gardens can be enjoyed by people of all ages for generations to come.”

Kevin Purkiss, Headteacher at Bathwick St. Mary Church School, said: “Our School Councillors were delighted to cut the ribbon and open the superb new play area.  We enjoyed a whole school trip to Sydney Gardens on Monday and our children benefitted from exploring the fantastic facilities on offer.”

The play area has four distinct zones: an area for imaginative play including a sham castle; an area for younger children with sand and water; a central zone with climbing frame, swings and slides; and a sport area with basketball hoops, table tennis, a panna football court.

Wessex Water are installing a free water refill point alongside the play area and this will be open for public use soon.

Residents and visitors are notified that the play area will need to close temporarily during the first week of June so that the basketball and tennis courts can be painted, along with final path surfacing. The Lower Tennis Courts will remain closed until they have been painted.

The three-year project to restore the gardens involved extensive heritage and wildlife conservation work. Historic features including the Loggia, Minerva’s Temple and the Edwardian toilets have been restored and the tennis courts refurbished. There is also a new boules terrain.

A new Community Pavilion for community, educational and creative use has been created, alongside refurbished toilets.

A new entrance has been created off the Warminster Road. The old electricity substation has been refurbished for use by the gardening team and their volunteers.

There is space for two refreshment pitches in the middle of the gardens which will be operational later in the season.

Sydney Gardens is one of the UK’s only surviving Georgian Pleasure Gardens. In 2019 the Sydney Gardens Project was awarded a £2.7m grant to restore the gardens from the National Lottery Heritage Fund with a total of £3.4m secured by the council to improve the park. 

Find out more about Sydney Gardens