Faded splendour: Kensington Gardens, Lowestoft

Last week, on another visit to my parents in Lowestoft, Suffolk, I made a visit to Kensington Gardens, a park dating to 1922, above the beach to the south of the town.

Lowestoft is known for its sandy beaches although just south of here, at Pakefield, where the land rises and there are cliffs, the beach is more stony.

As a young child I used to come here frequently and remember the gardens particularly for the aviaries which had South African finches. There must have been canaries and budgies too but it is the finches that I remember most and I have wanted to keep some myself ever since – maybe one day.

So it has been about 50 years since I was last here!

Apparently, in recent years the gardens have had something of a makeover with the Japanese-influenced garden restored (it is hardly a Japanese garden as described). The boating lake is also now used and the small cafe recently tidied and redecorated and serving decent food. The bowling greens have survived but the finches are gone. Apparently they went about ten years ago because of vermin problems.

It was inevitable that the electric boats that entertained me when I was young are long gone.

The electric boats (image from the internet – origin unknown)

The electric boats (image from the internet – origin unknown)

Kensington gardens circa 1930? in their early days (image from the internet – origin unknown)

It is a shame that the gardens, although pleasant enough, are a shadow of their former self. Although there are a few flowers most of the borders are filled with aged shrubs clipped into hummocks surrounded by compacted bare soil that only gets attention from sniffing dogs. But at least it is still there and still open.

And while I am stumbling down memory lane, that wide sandy beach was also where I watched Punch and Judy. And while Punch and Judy is now considered very un-PC, I have to say that, having watched many shows as a child, I have never had any great desire to hit anyone or to play around with crocodiles and sausages. As Brian Conley would say ‘It’s a puppet!’

Punch and Judy – Lowestoft beach (image from the internet – origin unknown)








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9 Comments on “Faded splendour: Kensington Gardens, Lowestoft”

  1. joy
    March 24, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

    that was so enjoyable good old punch and judy reminds me of me and malc lol .

  2. Laurin Lindsey
    March 24, 2017 at 12:25 pm #

    It looks like a lovely place to spend time as a child. Now days my daughter takes her kids to be amusement parks like Disneyland that I would find completely overwhelming. I like your little park. I wonder if a time will come around again when people want simpler things close to home.

    • thebikinggardener
      March 25, 2017 at 8:48 am #

      I think that with more emphasis on local food and environment local parks will become more valued. I just fear that money will be an issue though.

      • Neil Coleby
        November 8, 2018 at 2:54 pm #

        I loved your article and wanted to give you an update which might bearten you. The park was only recently transferred to Lowestoft Town Council, who as a council are only 18 months old. Sports in the park were made free this year and have seen a massive increase in the use of the tennis courts and even the bowling green have attracted more interest. We now have Friends of Kensington Gardens group who have been working on the long border which has been completely weeded and the plants have been catalogued and are being split and replanted. we are working with local charities to grow on new perennials for next year so that the bed can be replanted to represent the sun and the sea to celebrate the First Light Festival which will be taking place in the town on the 21st & 22nd of June 2019. There are plans to revitalise the Japanese Garden concentrating on acers azalias, rhododendrons and the like but this may have to be a long term aim. We are lucky to have great cafe owner who does wonderful food and afternoon teas. Hopefully by it’s centenary in 2022 it will no longer be faded but will be on its way back to it’s former splendour. Minus the electric boats unfortunately.

        • thebikinggardener
          June 24, 2019 at 6:59 pm #

          thank you so much for your detailed comment. I apologise for the long delay – I have had a break. I hope to see great improvements over the years as I revisit.

  3. Graeme
    August 30, 2017 at 11:45 pm #

    Really interesting read, I too have very fond memories of visiting this place in the 70s and early 80s when visiting family in Lowestoft. The electric boats were fantastic fun. I also recall the aviaries, and remember amazingly lush gardens, ornamental bridges and a small statue of Peter Pan hidden away in one of the ponds.

  4. John
    June 22, 2018 at 12:33 pm #

    hi found a boating tag number 55 I think on the beach a friend said so. do you remember them.

  5. David Ketterer
    August 28, 2018 at 10:51 am #

    We were frequently there in the fifties and loved the electric boats which cost sixpence for 15-20 minutes of delight. The gardens were beautifully maintained when the wages of gardeners were at a level that Local Councils could afford. Actually we used these gardens more for hide and seek than for admiration of the surroundings, but we were ten years old at the time.

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