The History of Upton House part 5
Poole Council & The Friends 1976
With the completion of the Upton Bypass in 1975, the Country Park could safely be accessed by the public. In February 1976, at a Public Meeting at the Municipal Buildings (Civic Centre) chaired by Cllr Stanley Pearce, the Society of Poole Men proposed the formation of an organisation to represent all organisations and people with an interest in the Upton Estate, to be known as the “Friends of Upton Park“. Miss Margaret Mary Llewellin, sister of Lord Llewellin, became the group’s first President, a role she maintained until her death in 1983.
The word “Country” was added to the Friends title in 1978 to distinguish the group from supporters of West Ham Football Club who’s home ground is called Upton Park.
Upton Park was officially opened to the public on 15th May 1976. The Council invested a little over £18,000 to provide a gravel car park for 40 cars, chemical toilet block, fencing and notice boards. Gardeners would be employed, one of whom would be resident within the grounds.
The work of the Friends was initially to have the grounds cleared, paths laid out, and dangerous areas fenced off. The group undertook to provide Voluntary Wardens, and to assist the Council. The group soon became a Registered Charity (No 272450) and set about formulating ideas to raise money; this has been their number one priority ever since, and more than 40 years later it is gratifying to see what has been achieved:
- creation of a refreshment Kiosk which opened in July 1977, thus the Friends became the first to provide cups of tea and ice creams to visitors
- supervision of the first (1977-79) restoration of the Walled Garden
- the transformation of the stable block into the Countryside Heritage Centre
- restoration of the greenhouses and the creation of a Plant Centre
- the provision of wildlife and the introduction of peafowl
- the creation of a freshwater lake, and Nature Trails
- the creation of “Project Peacock” – the Education Centre
- the restoration and re-equipping of Upton House itself, which after much improvement work has been regularly opened to the public since April 1982
A comprehensive list of the Friends history and achievements can be found here
You too can help improve and protect Upton House and Country Park for future generations by
- Joining the Friends of Upton Country Park
- Helping out as a Volunteer
- Donating any amount you can afford, it will go to a very good cause
Or simply come and enjoy everything that the beautiful Upton House and Country Park has to offer.