Hampshire Now - your County Council magazine

Exciting new woodland play area for Royal Victoria Country Park

Friday, 25 July 2014

Outdoor play at one of Hampshire's most popular country parks is about to become a whole lot more exciting with a new woodland play area.

Youngsters visiting Royal Victoria Country Park at Netley will be stepping foot into a new adventure playground where there's so much more to do and learn thanks to a £175,500 investment by Hampshire County Council.

Close to the park's café, the new park includes:

  • two tree houses
  • platforms connected by walkways
  • a four lane slide, clatter bridges
  • a climbing net
  • zip wires
  • a trampoline
  • crawling tunnels
  • a climbing wall
  • and a sensory trail.

A woodland themed official opening will take on Thursday 31 July starting at 11am and ending at 4pm when families can enjoy face painting, willow weaving, African drumming, t-shirt designing and crafts.

Councillor Keith Chapman, Hampshire County Council's Executive Member for Culture, Recreation and Countryside said:

Our new play area is adding to the appeal of the Park's seashore setting and all the benefits that outdoor play brings to children's health and wellbeing. There's something here for children of all ages and abilities. This is an example of how we are transforming all our country parks to meet the needs of a new generation of visitors and make them places people will want to revisit time and time again. Royal Victoria Country Park is such a valuable heritage site as well and this new play area is sure to encourage more families to discover more about its history and enjoy its beautiful location.

Councillor Peter Edgar, Executive Member for Education, will also be at the official opening. The venue received official recognition with a Quality Badge from the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) in 2013.

Cllr Edgar said:

Encouraging children to learn outside the classroom walls was my passion when I was teaching. The advantage of a less prescriptive national curriculum means teachers and children can take what they learn in the classroom and put it into practice outside whether it's science, art, environmental studies, physical education or simply maths or English. I hope schools will bring children out of the classroom more and enjoy the huge range of services we have to offer, including this wonderful new outdoor facility at Royal Victoria Country Park.

History of Royal Victoria Country Park

The new play area opens in the year that marks the centenary of the start of World War One.

From 1863 until 1966, the site of Royal Victoria Country Park was home to the Royal Victoria Hospital. It was more than a quarter of a mile long and the British Army's first purpose-built hospital which devoted more than 100 years of service to caring for sick and wounded soldiers from across the world. Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone herself on 19 May 1856 and visited the site over 20 times in her lifetime. The hospital came into its own during the First World War, expanding vastly to cope with the ever-increasing demands of one of our country's darkest periods in history.

The Army demolished most of the building in 1966 except the former Chapel to the hospital.

The site was acquired by Hampshire County Council and in 1980 Royal Victoria Country Park was opened to the public.

Green Flag Award winner

All Hampshire County Council's country parks fly the prestigious Green Flag Award. The national award, handed out by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, recognises and rewards the best parks and green spaces across the country.

The Green Flag is a sign to visitors that the County Council's country parks boast high standards, and have well maintained and good facilities.

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