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Bingley goes large 1,200 years ago

From Howard Myers

I did a little research and found this interesting titbit. “A.D. 814. Coenwulf, king of Mercia, to Wulfred, archbishop; grant of 30 iugera at Bingley’s Island, Canterbury. The farm sizes in Rome can be divided into three categories. Small farms were from 18-108 iugera. (One iugerum is equal to about 0.65 acres. Medium-sized farms were from 80-500 iugera. Large estates (called latifundia) were over 500 iugera.”


Canterbury Swimming Club, 1930s. Picture: Howard Myers

Canterbury Swimming Club, 1930s.



Also from my archives I found a photograph of the Canterbury swimming team c. 1930’s in which my mother, Phyllis Myers (nee Marshall) is first on the left, back row. Sorry, I don’t know any of the others.



If only we could reinstate the magic

From Lynette Coleman

Toddlers Cove was a magical place in the 50s and 60s. I was born in 1949 and my mum would often take us there when we were small. I knew where we were heading as soon as I  started walking on the stone chippings just inside the main gate in St Peter’s Place. Oh the excitement!

Toddlers Cove 1959. Picture from Lynette Coleman

Out came the buckets and spades – it was heaven. Toddlers Cove in 1959. Picture: Lynette Coleman

I would be holding on to my brother’s pushchair as we made our way along the path and past the pond, now gone of course.

When we reached the Cove out would come the buckets and spades and it was heaven just playing on the sand and paddling in the lovely little circular moat with the island in the middle.

It was an extra special treat to get a donkey ride. I remember the nissen hut-type stables they had.

If only we could reinstate the original magic of Toddlers Cove.

The new play equipment proposed is of course wonderful but we have a chance to recapture real

Donkey riding,1959. Picture from Lynette Coleman

Lynette, her cousin David Coleman, sister Jennifer and brother Nicholas Coleman in 1959

magic, if not the original concept then perhaps  something on similar lines.

It wasn’t just a  playground, it was much much more than that and I’m so glad my generation experienced it.

Let’s have many happy returns!

From Bill Saxby

I have fond memories of Toddlers Cove. It was the kind of place where families took their children to have a good time at little cost – in my view it’s the kind of place Canterbury needs now. My uncle and aunt, Charlie and Lucy Epps from Rhodes Minnis, used to take me there back in the 1950s. There was a paddling pool, sand to play in and a boating pool. All us kids just loved it.

I realise that in these difficult time the cost of any improvements is a big factor but surely some of these things could be restored at relatively low cost.  So good luck with your project.  And here’s a thought –  in your longer-term planning you should even consider restoring an open-air swimming pool. That would really do Canterbury a big favour.

Many happy days

From Susan Dawkins

We spent many happy days playing in Todlers Cove and it was always a rush to get there early so Mum could get her place under the shade of the big tree near the river.

It was always hot then wasn’t it?

Legacy for the future

From Howard Myers

Having grown up in Thanington in the late 1940’s up to the early 1960’s the Westgate Gardens and Toddler’s Cove   has and always be a major part of those years and I am keen to see a revitalisation of the area. What has brought such joy and pleasure to many in the past should be our legacy for the future.

Let’s have a botanical garden

From John Morrison

I wrote to my local MP suggesting that the large grassed areas adjacent to Westgate would be an ideal site for a City Centre Botanical Garden. The planting of trees is good for the environment, not spectacularly expensive (free trees are often made available) and would prove a boon for tourism.

It would help break the vicious cycle of Canterbury’s tourist ‘TAT’ runs where manic students clutching their five euro notes compete for space along the congested High Street.

I am sure the locally based Hadlow College would be able to incorporate horticultural training to support skill training/apprenticeships and get people back into work. Community payback could also play a role in management of grounds.

Block out traffic noise

From Graham Cox

Suggest the scheme include sound proof fencing on both sides of the Rheims Way bridge and the approaches to eliminate intrusive road noise. I think this will be a key attraction for the lottery decision-makers.Good luck.

Underpass is horrible!

From Sarah Lipscombe

I think the improvements are a great idea and much needed, we love walking through the Westgate Gardens and going to the Toddlers Cove playground, but the underpass is horrible and for a long time put me off even going there.

Refreshments and improvements to toilets would be great, as with small children if the toilets are shut in the playground the nearest ones are near the Westgate towers which are too far to get to with a small one needing a wee!

Refreshments would also mean you could stay there longer.

I have just discovered the cycle path from toddlers cover to Chartham, which again I think is a great and any extension to this would be great.

 It was like being at the seaside

From Frank Coffin,

It was nice to find a photo of Toddlers Cove in the 1950s.Although I now live in Hampshire,I remember spending many a happy hour in the cove on the paddle boats that used to be on the boating lake and splashing around in the pool.

To me at the age of 7 or 8 years it was like being at the seaside with the sand, boats and the ice cream that was available.I also spent many hours fishing in the Stour for eels with a rod that had been made out of an old army tank aerial. My main fishing area was behind the old police station adjacent to the Westgate Towers,which is now a car park.

I have returned many time to visit the old place and found that many of the changes have not been for the best,but I suppose that that is what is called progress? The Stour alongside the Westgate is sad to see,now it is filled with rubble, tins,bottles and any kind of rubbish. When I was small it was pristine,with beautiful clear water and lush green weed that flowed and moved with every different movement of the water. This area lets Canterbury down badly – it could be so nice.

It was also sad to see the railway cottages I was raised in have now been converted into a car park in Station Road West. That progress I can understand: sadly! Thanks for putting the photo of Toddlers Cove on the net, as I’ve said it brought back many happy memories. 

Tell us your favourite memory from Westgate Parks.  Click here to contact us by email.   Or send your comments or pictures by post to Friends of Westgate Parks, c/o Canterbury City Council, Community Development and Outdoor Leisure, Canterbury, CT1 1YW.

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