Flagging up excellence at Swanage’s pitch perfect park

Beach Gardens in Swanage in Dorset has proudly taken its place in a prestigious list of Britain’s best green spaces.

A national Green Flag award, given by the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy to reward excellence in the country’s top parks, was run up a new flagpole at Beach Gardens by Swanage Town Mayor Tina Foster on Wednesday 23rd August 2023.

Sport and recreation in a haven of peace and quiet

Sport and recreation in a haven of peace and quiet

A haven of peace in the town

The national award is a sign to the public that Beach Gardens has the highest possible environmental standards, whilst also being beautifully maintained with some of the best visitor facilities.

The park, a stone’s throw from the seafront, is home to six professional standard tennis courts, Swanage Bowling Club, a basketball court and an 18 hole putting green.

The Tea on the Green cafe, which doubles as an equipment booking and hire office, has a new accessible decking area for customers to sit down in the sunshine with a drink and a snack.

Welcome to Swanage Beach Gardens – now officially one of the best parks in the country

Exceptional example of a green space

Swanage Town Council has worked closely with Swanage Tennis Club and Swanage Bowling Club, to develop a comprehensive management plan for Beach Gardens, setting out a joint vision of a way to improve and maintain the area for many years to come.

Keep Britain Tidy, the charity behind the prestigious Green Flag awards, singled Beach Gardens out as an ‘exceptional’ example of a vital green space for the community.

A plaque and a flag now proudly proclaim that Beach Gardens has achieved the international quality mark for parks and green spaces, testament to the hard work and dedication of the teams which keep it looking so good.

Swanage Town Council officials and employees with sports club members at Beach Gardens

The Swanage Town Council team and Beach Gardens users who have worked hard to improve Swanage’s green oasis away from the busy beach areas

Swanage Town Mayor Tina Foster proudly raised the Green Flag award up a new flagpole

Swanage Town Mayor Tina Foster, alongside councillor Chris Tomes, proudly raised the Green Flag award up a new flagpole

“I hope it is the first of many”

Raising the flag for the first time, Swanage Town Mayor Tina Foster said:

“I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in bringing this prestigious award to Swanage, I’m so grateful to all the workers and all the councillors for the huge efforts that have been made over the years to make this such a beautiful place for the town.

“It may be the first Green Flag award we have won, but I hope it is also the first of many. When we went to collect the award at a ceremony in Southampton, the judge pointed out that Swanage Beach Gardens was exceptional and we can all believe that.”

Beach Gardens staff Lesley Clark, Steve Diffy, Richard Sanderson and Katherine Watson in the beautiful grounds

Beach Gardens staff Lesley Clark, Steve Diffy, Richard Sanderson and Katherine Watson in the beautiful grounds

A new Green Flag Award plaque is proudly displayed at the clubhouse

A new Green Flag Award plaque is proudly displayed at the clubhouse. Swanage Town Council left to right: business development support officer Jayne Moulder, visitor services manager Culvin Milmer, and grounds and estates manager George Roman

People love its peace

Business development support officer Jayne Moulder, who worked on the application with assets and compliance manager Gail Percival, said:

“We worked for about two weeks on the management plan and the judges said it was the best they had ever seen, as we had included the history, pictures of the park and had still kept the application really concise.

“Although there is so much to do at Beach Gardens in the way of sport and recreation, a lot of people love that it is so peaceful and green here with so much nature around them – we were even praised for leaving the park boundaries wild to attract insects.”

Members of the sports clubs at Beach Gardens help make the park a phenomenal success

“The jewel in the crown of Swanage”

Town clerk Martin Ayres added:

“We won’t be resting on our laurels after this. We are very proud of all the council’s green spaces and we would love to see them recognised too – perhaps King George’s playing fields might be next on the list.

“It is a cliche, but we think of it as the jewel in the crown of Swanage, how many other places could you go to and play tennis with such a wonderful view of the sea?”

Before making the award, the Green Flag judges commented that Beach Gardens was very well run and managed, with a clear programme of improvements that could be made within the site.

Tea on the Green offers refreshments as well as booking facilities…

… while the newly decked seating and eating area has quickly become a favourite spot

Every effort to make most of the space

Keep Britain Tidy’s Green Flag award scheme manager Paul Todd said:

“It is a relatively small park, but every effort is being made to make the most of the space, ensuring it continues to be enjoyed by locals and visitors to the area.

“I would like to congratulate everyone involved at Beach Gardens in achieving a Green Flag Award and making it such a pleasant site to visit.

“Beach Gardens is a vital green space for the community in Swanage, bringing people together and providing opportunities to lead healthy lifestyles.

“The staff and volunteers do so much to ensure that it maintains the high standards of the Green Flag Award and everyone involved should feel extremely proud of their achievement.”

A basketball court and six all weather tennis courts are available for public use in glorious surroundings

Gifted to Swanage in 1930 by John Mowlem

Beach Gardens was originally established in 1930 when John Mowlem offered the site to Swanage as a sports park which included an 18 hole putting green and six tennis courts.

Following the Local Government Act of 1972, the property passed from Swanage Urban District Council to the newly created Swanage Town Council, who demolished the old tennis pavilion situated where the courts are today, and built a new pavilion along with a new tennis courts and a bowling green.

Today it offers putting, basketball, bowls, tennis, table tennis and plenty of seating for people to sit down and enjoy the green space with fantastic views over Swanage Bay.

Swanage Bowling Club helps keep the facilities looking picture perfect

“Very proud of what has been achieved”

Councillor Chris Moreton, chair of the town’s environment and green spaces committee said:

“The Town Council is very proud of what has been achieved at Beach Gardens, the importance of these facilities cannot be overestimated, and we all look forward to welcoming the local community and visitors throughout the year.

“I would also like to pass on my sincere thanks to Gail Percival, assets and compliance manager, George Roman, grounds and estates manager, and all on the grounds maintenance team for how beautiful the town is looking.”

Beach Gardens joins nearby Durlston Country Park in receiving a Green Flag award in 2023. Durlston Country Park has won the award for many years running and was also given a Green Heritage Site award by Keep Britain Tidy.

Further information

  • Find out more about Beach Gardens on the Swanage Town Council website

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