The dinosaurs have now gone to meet the dragons in Wales and the process of restoring our lovely park to ‘normal’ service has begun.
This park has often been described as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Enfield parks and is a much loved heritage space enjoyed by families for generations, who have all created happy memories from enjoying time in the park. The Friends of Grovelands Park group have worked for many years to preserve this space and to keep it safe for future generations.
From reports from across the borough the Jurassic event was overwhelmingly popular, as hundreds of children brought to see the giant dinosaurs by parents and grandparents loved it and enjoyed the family experience together. By coming in droves, some from long distances they were able to discover the park and were able to create their own new family memories for a new generation but now using I phones and video and not snapping in black and white on a Kodak Brownie.
However the adage ‘You Can’t Please All of The People All of the Time’ was firmly brought home to us by the introduction of this event. Our evidence is that the Jurassic Experience was very popular and that the general community was pleased that it had been staged in Grovelands Park for the benefit of the children but of course there will always people who will object. Clearly they are entitled to dislike any intrusion in the park but such ‘objections’ and criticisms must surely be kept in perspective.
Regrettably, a very small minority of residents in raising their concerns have been vociferous both verbally and in postings on social media platforms by heaping opprobrium on The London Borough of Enfield, the Friends of Grovelands Park and indeed the hired workers building and de-rigging the installation. Sadly some of this invective has been personal and deeply offensive and plain wrong.
For clarification consider the facts to put the event in context.
Grovelands Park has been controlled by the local authority in the Borough for over 100 years and as they effectively ‘own’ the park in trust for the community they are entitled to stage whatever events they want within the boundaries of the park. We as the Friends of Grovelands Park have no control over that.
The last significant event in the Park was the Centenary Celebrations that The Friends of Grovelands Park organised 8 years ago and since that time there has been community pressure on both LBE and The Friends to organise and stage more events in the park. (Broomfield or Trent for example are literally awash with them in the wet summer months).
Our view has always been that Grovelands is a special heritage park and that most proposals put to the Friends or LBE are inappropriate and we have been at pains over the last 8 years to resist them i.e. Giant pedalo ducks on the Lake and other ideas. In fact all we have done in 8 years is to stage a joint small event and exhibition with Thames 21 and a small exhibition with the Gardens Trust to celebrate Repton, who laid out the park.
When the idea of the Jurassic event was mooted some time ago it was carefully considered first by LBE and also by The Friends Of Grovelands Park and a decision was made that in this case that as it was a benign children’s educational but fun installation that would finish at 6 pm, would not involve any loud music and would only involve a small section of the park, it would be appropriate. That decision was entirely the remit of LBE beyond our control.
Once the decision had been taken LBE involved members of the Friends Group and meetings took place with the organisers to discuss the logistic details with a view to mitigating and controlling the intrusion on the park. It was our involvement that diverted the route of the articulated trucks delivering the dinosaurs to the Seaforth entrance and not through the main gates on Bourne Hill and then along the cherry avenue and around the lake to the event site. This kept the disturbance to a minimum. We also worked with the organisers to limit the area of the wood closed off for the event and to ensure that the access for dog walkers was kept open over the Branscombe Bridge. It seemed sensible and pragmatic for us to work with and cooperate with the organisers to get the ‘least worse’ disturbance whilst creating a great experience for children.
However before anything had happened word of the event triggered all kinds of astonishing scaremongering and ill-founded allegations. LBE were accused of chopping all the trees down in the wood to make room for the event and to make money! This was because the LBE tree team were in the park routinely cutting up dangerous fallen trees. It was suggested that the event would destroy the wild life and birdlife around the lake but the event was located nowhere near the lake. Another allegation or rumour was that the new boardwalk had only been funded by LBE to facilitate the event but the truth is it had taken the Friends Group about 4 years to get LBE to fix the boardwalk problem and it was completed sometime before the event and had nothing to do with it. Perhaps the most outlandish was that “Grovelands Park was being raped by LBE to make money” or that it was all to be locked off and denied to other users.
The reality was that for just 2 days the trucks arrived bringing in our Dinosaur visitors causing minimal disruption to Seaforth Gardens and the Harris fences were only sealed off on the day before opening.
‘Most of the park’ has not been out of bounds! One stretch of woodland was used for the event – there are two others, which have always been open to the public – and two grassed areas were used, leaving the majority of the park, the lake, children’s playground, café and all the main open space accessible and available as normal.
Many of the regular users of the park and so many of the dog walkers have told us that it was absolutely no problem to divert for a short time around the event area and that it was great to see the families enjoying it after having been cooped up during the pandemic. With almost half a million children in our Enfield community many living in homes with no garden it was a wonderful opportunity for them to be out enjoying our open space.
Inevitably with any event with so many extra people coming into the park there will be a downside and this was exacerbated by the heavy rainfall which caused sections of the grass to become very muddy because of the footfall but the park has not been “destroyed’. There is some damage to the grassed areas used and to one paved path but the damage there was not all done by the event organiser’s JCB as it was section of the path that had been left unpaved recently pending a new drain being fitted and there were always plans by LBE to repair this section.
Contrary to the scaremongering it will not take years and thousands of pounds to recover and indeed after walking the park to inspect the ‘damage’ with the representatives of the LBE our judgement was that most ‘damage ‘ was minimal with the grass areas just requiring superficial levelling and treating to level off tyre marks to allow the grass to grow back. The damage to the main path is already being worked on with a new drainage system being fitted under the path. In fact already much of the grass has already recovered so very soon nobody would know there had been an event in the park. If the weather had been good (as it was during the set-up) the ground would have been rock hard and the perceived damage would have been much less.
An accumulation of rubbish was a problem when the skip company let the organiser down and did not arrive as scheduled but all that is clear now.
What is most concerning to the Friends of Grovlands Park Committee is not any residual impact on the park, as we are confident that within a couple of weeks nobody would be able to tell that we had been invaded by giant dinosaurs but the reputational damage that the respected and long established Friends of Grovelands Park Group may suffer from the ill-informed and inaccurate lobbying and postings that were still going on in the days after the event had been cleared.
This unfortunate criticism seems to emanate from an entitled few living close to the park that seem to regard a community asset as their private domain some have even suggested that the long established Fiends of the Park Group to be disbanded even alleging that it was LBE Policy. Thankfully this is a minority view and we have appreciated the kind and supportive emails from not only the park authorities but also from park users and in particular from residents of Seaforth Gardens.
It was actually the fifteenth-century monk and poet, John Lydgate who said you can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
Well for sure over the last couple of weeks we have certainly learned that to be true but as a group dedicated to the well being of our lovely park we hope our decision to support this event has pleased most of you in our privileged WInchmore Hill community and that you will ignore the begrudgers and continue to support The Friends of Grovelands park. At least we think we made the children happy and that can’t be a bad thing.
Just wanted to say well done to all Friends of Grovelands for the hard work in helping make the recent ‘Dinosaurs in the Park’ such a success.
Great to see so many people and families visiting the park. Sure it was a first time for many using local transport, shops and facilities. It was really good to see the park selected by the council for such an event.
Lots of the Friends activity goes unnoticed such as rubbish collection etc but it all makes such a difference.
Heres to the next one,
Hello, I would just like to say how very much my granddaughters loved seeing the Dinosaur Event. My little 3 year old granddaughter ran towards them saying ‘I found a dinosaur’ whilst hugging them. This was all during the wonderful set up week when the weather was glorious and so many families were able to come and see the dinosaurs being set up. Of course the children were very fortunate to be able to get up close and hug and touch them during this time.
That first week was, I feel, so exciting and it was fabulous to see so many families coming together to see such a spectacle. I loved seeing a steady stream of children walking down from The Bourne all excitedly looking for the dinosaurs, it really was such a beautiful sight. So thank you so much to the organisers for bringing such excitement and fun to our local park. I, and my family, very much appreciated the event. We would love to see more local events at Grovelands such as Music on the Lawn that is held at Hillyfields and the music events at Broomfield Park, they bring about such a great community feeling of togetherness. Very well done to all.