Explore Sandford Parks with FOSP

The present park

Sandford Park, running from Keynsham Road to Bath Road is a remarkably diverse space.........
many use it as a foot or cycle route to Central Cheltenham
it is a playing field for casual and school use
it is popular with dog walkers
it has a beautiful Scanctuary Garden provided by the hospital LINC charity
there is an Italianate formal garden at the Bath Road end

there are ornamental fountains ......

it is part of the flood defences: the river Chelt runs through the Park giving it a unique flavour
Air Ambulance landing pad for Cheltenham General Hospital
it has a formal wisteria loggia at the London Road entrance
it has a vegetable and herb community garden

.......and sculpture

THEN
NOW

the flower beds and fountain at the College Road entrance are possibly the most extravagant in Cheltenham

down by the Sandford Mill the River Chelt rushes through the mill-race..............................and the old mill stone can be seen nearby

  • The Mighty Chelt
    The Mighty Chelt
  • The Mighty Chelt
    The Mighty Chelt
  • The Mighty Chelt
    The Mighty Chelt
  • The Mighty Chelt
    The Mighty Chelt
there is a three pitch boules court
and there are two table tennis tables
.....and we always enjoy sharing with other friends of Sandford Park

History

The Domesday Book contains the first known mention of Sandford according to one authority. Nonetheless, it took until 1927 before Sandford started to become the Park we know and love today.   In the interim, the lands housed Barratts Mill, formerly known as the Cheltenham Mill. The building is still there. It was the second mill the Chelt encountered on its journey to the river Severn. It had already negotiated Sandford Mill, just east of Old Bath Road and was to power a further ten mills downstream. For such a small river that must have been quite a feat as well as for the engineers who designed the mills.   A wonderful history of the Chelt including its passage through Sandford Park may be found in https://cheltonia.wordpress.com/tag/river-chelt/

Its next claim to fame was the construction of the Chalbeate Spa, a small part  of which still stands in College Road in the north west corner of the eastern half of the Park. Again, a fascinating description may be found in https://cheltonia.wordpress.com/spa-town/ .   It was built in 1801 and was the first to be built in Cheltenham following the famous and town-changing visit of King George III. From that moment the reputation of Cheltenham really took off and the Chalbeate Spa was there at the start of that phase.

The Sandford Park lands were acquired by the Borough Council in 1927 and laid out by the then renowned landscape architects, Milner-White.   Edward Milner, the son of a Chatsworth gardener who was apprenticed to Joseph Paxton, designer of the Crystal Palace.   He was known as Paxton’s protégé. He started the landscape practice, that later became known as Milner-White, in 1850. It survived four generations and closed only in 1995. At the time of the landscaping of Sandford Park, Edward White would have been the third generation of the family. He married into the Milner family, hence the Milner-White. He was a founder member of the Landscape Institute. The firm had been responsible not only for Sandford Park, something we would regard as their pinnacle, but also for Crystal Palace Park in Sydenham, Wembley Park and East London’s Victoria Park as well as for many projects in mainland Europe


For some, the jewel in the crown of Sandford Park, may be the stunning open air swimming pool, the Lido. Designed by Gould Marsland, the clearly talented Borough Engineer (one of his houses stands in The Avenue) the Lido was opened on 25th May 1935. Thanks to recent renovations, it still looks as welcoming  and fresh as it must have done then.

The Park has been host to many events during its now almost 100 year life. It once hosted visits from funfairs and circuses. The lions and elephants of Bertram Mills and Chipperfields have been known to appreciate it!

The Chelt - soon after the 1928 park opening

THE TREE WALK

The Borough Council recently produced a leaflet defining a walking tour of the park and identifying and describing a number of its most interesting tree
and features.  The leaflet is available at the Municipal Offices, the Library and the Lido.   For a taste, click on selected images below to see each full page