I am delighted that the Water Gardens restoration project has received a grant of £2.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund. It is grants such as this that ensure “we all win” from the lottery. This money, together with a substantial £1 million contribution from Dacorum Borough Council, will ensure that the Water Gardens can be fully restored to once again be the prominent central feature of the New Town that Geoffrey and Susan Jellicoe designed them to be.
It has been interesting reading about the aspirations and ideas behind the serpent design and also to appreciate the sense of optimism of that period when the dark days of World War 2 were still fresh in peoples’ minds. Coming to the New Town was full of opportunities and adventure for families moving out from London. For many, the parks and gardens of the New Town were a complete contrast to what they had experienced in London.
Fifty years on, I think there is a general feeling among people who have lived in the town a long time that the Water Gardens have increasingly been neglected. That may have been the case to some extent, but that is now changing. There are more and more residential properties overlooking the site – such as the new flats at Lord Alexander House, the Image development and more and more people are taking an interest.
There is an excellent Friends of Jellicoe Water Gardens group (with some great photos on their Facebook page www.facebook.com/jellicoewatergardens
) who are organising lots of interesting events. If you are interested, why not get involved?
The Old Town is another of our “best kept secrets” and I am looking forward to the Old Town Street Festival and Dacorum Folk Fest on 19th July (1pm-6pm). The newly installed gates are fantastic and the Old Town is really looking great. It is a very special place with a real community feel to it. It has a wonderful mix of shops and restaurants and we really do need to visit it more!
The Street Festival is free and will have live music, food demonstrations, street theatre and a lot more. It is being organised by the Old Town Partnership who are a group of local businesses working with the Council to promote the area. Come along and remind yourself of all the great things our Old Town has to offer.
Both these projects are part of the Council’s long term regeneration strategy. I fully support their work to move the town forward and make it a great place to live in the 21st century and yet also pay tribute to and look after all that has gone before. Whether that was hundreds of years ago, as in the Old Town, or fifty years ago as in the Jellicoe Water Gardens.
It is incumbent on all of us to make use of and appreciate what we have to keep these places alive and to help the town thrive.