Radipole Park & Gardens
Welcome to the website for Weymouth’s Radipole Park & Gardens run by the Friends group of the park.

Local Memories

We asked local people to tell us their memories of the Park

local memories

Radipole Park was created nearly one hundred years ago. The years since have seen many changes.

We asked local people to tell us their memories of the Park. Some sent in written accounts and others gave interviews. A big thank you to everyone who took part and agreed to share their stories here.

From waiting with anticipation to see the steam trains chug in and out of Weymouth station, to splashing about in the paddling pool during the heatwave of 1976, their stories offer a fascinating glimpse into the part the Park has played in local life over the years.

David Christopher

During WWII I lived in Alexandra Road. As a child, Mum would take me and my sister Jean down to the gardens. Where the large oval shape is now there was a barrage balloon on it and when the air raid sirens went off it would go up in the air and the three of us would get behind a tree.

When I became a teenager I met a young lady at a party in town and I asked if I could walk her home and she said she lived in Ullswater Crescent. I had no idea at that time where Ullswater Crescent was, so when I walked as far as Radipole I thought I am not going to do this often, but I did, many times.

When I was almost 20 years old we decided to get engaged and on Christmas Day 1957 I left my house in Park Street at 12 noon, and Jan left her home in Ullswater Crescent at 12 noon, and we met in the Gardens and exchanged rings.

We got married a year later on 27th December 1958 at St Ann’s Church, Radipole.

When I completed my national service we bought our first house in Spa Road and soon started taking our own children to the park.

Now on the 27th December this year, we celebrate our 65th Wedding Anniversary. In our mid eighties we still like to walk through the Park and sit and enjoy the Gardens. The thing we both like most is the Willow Trees.

Maureen Trent

Play Interview

Maureen: I’m Maureen Trent and I’m 82 years old and I’ve lived in the area best part of my life and in between and I went to school at Rydal Lodge, which is at the end of Radipole Park Drive. And in one of the rooms I always used to look down out the window, which is probably not a good thing. Our sports teacher was a Miss Cook, she used to take us to play tennis down on the courts and she was a well- known player. There didn’t used to be a pavilion, that came later on when the tournaments were there. All the tennis courts were occupied. It was a very busy area.

I lived on the other side of Dorchester Road, so we used to come down the back of King’s Road, slide down the bank and play and run about in amongst, there was trees going down. At the end of the tennis courts, before you got to the gardens, there was toilets which were never, like most gardens and that, were never very clean, but they were there. And also, I can remember, I’m not quite sure when it was, there was the paddling pool for us put up. And it was never very clean. But then later on I brought my own children down there as well. And it still wasn’t very clean, but I think it’s all been altered now. And we just played generally really. And also, at the school, I’m going back again, we had sports day there and just went around in the field, so there wasn’t a lot going on at that particular time, but it was just somewhere nice for the children to be free. And it was always safe, I must add that, it was safe to do that, yeah.

Ben: And did you enjoy playing in the park, somewhere big and open?

Maureen: Yeah, yes, yes.

Ben: Somewhere to run around.

Maureen: Run around – you could always play touch…play tennis as well. We used to go down and have a go on our own. And then going through the park or the gardens of course you go through Alexandra Bridge. And so we used to go up there, and also Spa Road, and because they wait for the steam trains to go and catch the smoke. And so we used to go up there as well. So we were fortunate where we lived, we went both ways to get into the Park.

Ben: And was the train quite busy, was there quite a lot of trains?

Maureen: Oh, there was always a lot of busy and also Radipole Holt was there then you see. And you used to get all the people who used to stop the train and everything then so it was really good.

Ben: And was there quite a lot of like holiday makers and visitors always coming into the town?

Maureen: Oh they were always coming into the town. It was very, very busy and the doors would open of the carriages and they’d all pile out. And then just all go and catch buses and everything. Yeah, Weymouth was different in that sense, yes.

Ben: Yeah. And like you said, it was all steam trains. So what was the sort of smells and noises?

Maureen: Yes, that’s whys we took up on the bridge, you see. And someone would say there’s a train coming so we’d all run and stand there and sort of get there and just get covered in smoke and it was just good fun.

Ben: Excellent. Sounds brilliant.

Maureen: I used to do that with my own children because we still lived there. Then we’d come down and then we’d feed the Swans a bit at the bottom part there. So my own children played there as well.

Click here to read the transcript of Maureen’s interview

Mick Boissé

My sisters, Mary and Kay Boissé, and our friends and I spent many happy interludes at Radipole Park in the late-1940s to mid-1950s. We lived on the Dorchester Road, opposite the small Saint Augustine Catholic Church. It was just a few minutes’ walk from the Park. Some of us would meet up by chance or we would make arrangements to meet up there or at the playpark, which is still there out past the tennis courts at the far end of the park.

First of all, we had the exciting prospect of crossing the old iron bridge (The Alexandra Bridge) that spanned the main railway lines coming into and out of Weymouth. Invariably a steam engine would appear and we would stand on the bridge where the train passed below us, covering us in steam and smuts from its smoke stack. We could see and wave to the driver and his fireman. The memories this invokes are awesome even over 70 years after they happened.

We then carried on over the bridge that led us down into Radipole Park Gardens. Here we played hide and seek behind the huge fir trees that grew majestically all around the edges of the Park. Depending on the season, my sisters and their friends would make daisy chains whilst sitting on the grass under the crab apple trees near to the present site of the memorial to Princess Diana.

Later we would gravitate towards the playpark where we would use an old bit of candle to wax the lovely high slide which would hurl us off the end of it at a great velocity and we, being ‘experts,’ would land on our feet if we were lucky!! Then we would run over to the swings where we never quite managed to ‘loop the loop’, but we did fly a fair distance as we swung high in the air and let go to arrive a long way off, on our feet hopefully!! Then we ran over to the roundabout for an attempt at ‘the whirling speed record’ as we tried to force our friends to tumble off as we put all our efforts into turning the roundabout as fast as possible.

The seesaw was next and it was great fun trying to ‘bump’ your friend off their end, but never quite succeeding. The ‘piece de resistance’ was the large paddling pool. We would run around the raised edge while dodging water splashed by our friends. We paddled around with our boats or just tempted the water to pour over the edge of our wellington boots as we thoroughly enjoyed our simple carefree pursuits.

In the summer, we could always climb up through a gap onto the path that ran to Radipole Halt and clamber around the embankment if there were no trains coming to search for slow worms. This was very exciting as we always had to make sure we didn’t try to pick up an adder! I never did see one around that area, but there was always the chance! We let the slow worms entwine themselves around our fingers for a while, and invariably placed them back in the grass where they disappeared quite quickly into the undergrowth. My sister Mary tells me that I once put a slow worm down the back of her dress, which invoked much screaming and panic. I don’t remember that.

At the end of our visit to Radipole Park Gardens we chatted and played as we made our way back to the railway bridge where we would say our goodbyes as we took our separate routes home. Tomorrow or within the next few days we would meet up again at our favourite venue for more fun and games.

These events happened at a period when life was simpler, we had far less material things and were very happy living and playing in an environment which was of our time.

Daphne Pont

Play Interview

Daphne: I’m Daphne Pont. I’m aged 87 and I’ve lived in the area since 2006 and I liked to take my husband down to the gardens in the wheelchair just to look at the gardens and we particularly liked February because of all the crocuses that were out. And also, with my grandchildren, we used to go and pick up fir cones so that we could make decorations and wreaths and scatter them around our garden to make it look nice. And often I’ve met people there that I haven’t seen for a long time, which is a lovely surprise.

There is a seat there dedicated to the daughter of a friend of mine who lives in the same thats as me and she died very tragically. So I often go and sit on the seat and remember her. Her name is Jenny. And her mum always puts a little bunch of flowers there to remember her.

Ben: And is there any special tree in the park?

Daphne: Yes, I like the Redwood tree because my family name, my mother’s family name, is Redwood.

Ben: And do you remember any of the floods in the area?

Daphne: Yes, I remember when Radipole Park Drive was flooded and I saw people in canoes and canoeing up towards Spa Road and they were followed by some swans.

Click here to read a transcript of Daphne’s interview

Saxon DaRoxx

Back in 76, when I was 10 years old, I was living in Bath Street near the bus depot in Weymouth town centre. It was the year of the hottest and longest summer I’ve ever known, then or since.

After a gulped breakfast, all the kids from around the neighbouring streets, about 10 of us in total, would grab our towels and meet up outside the long since demolished putting green on Commercial Road to begin a long adventurous walk that seemed to take forever. First stop though was a quick detour to the Bon Bon newsagents by the train station for a handful of penny TipTop ice poles to keep us cool on the hot arduous trek, then it was past the old Centenary Club that was near where MacDonald’s now stands, and into the endless Radipole Gardens.

The continued baking of the hot dry summer heatwave had long bleached most of the grass verges around town straw yellow, yet here in the well maintained and beautiful looking gardens, the grass was a luxurious green and the air was filled with the sweet pungent scent of thousands of pretty flowers which alone could transport you away to far-off exotic destinations.

After a swift break to swing on the drooping branches of a large Weeping Willow tree near the railway bridge, it was back onto our journey. Eventually our little band of happy travellers came upon the tennis courts and an excited tingle would run down our spines as we all knew that our destination was only five more minutes away now. It was the laughing and excited screams of the children already having fun at the park that greeted our arrival, and at long last the vast open area of Radipole Park was spread before us.

The first thing we did, as we did each and every time we visited the park, was throw down our towels and run towards the welcoming cooling water of the huge paddling pool and I’m sure the water actually sizzled as our hot bare feet were plunged in to it. This was it; this was what made our long, long journey worthwhile. We danced around and splashed each other, then lay on our backs in the six inch deep water and enjoyed the sensations on our sun-dried skin. After an hour of fun and games in the pool, it was time to hit the swings, the seesaw and the other exciting ‘rides’ spread around the park.

Around midday (no one knew for sure as none of us wore watches in those days), we’d all walk to the furthest end of the park, turn right, through some bushes and onto a dirt path which led up a hill to a little sweet shop where we’d restock on TipTops, or the little home-made coke flavoured ice lollies that they sold (they were two pence each so were a bit of a luxury), little square cartons of orange squash with free plastic straw, and packets of crisps that came with a little blue sachet of salt. Then it was back to the park with our haul where we’d sit in a tight circle scoffing our nosh and telling each other tales of imagined bravado and heroics.

After a few more hours back in the paddling pool and on the swings, repeating the mornings activities, we’d all moan that it was time to leave the park. So with heavy hearts, we’d begin the never-ending trek back to town in silence, our adventures over for that day.

Our trips to Radipole Park continued all that summer until the heatwave finally broke and thunderclouds appeared with a vengeance and it began to rain which filled the air with the dirty clawing stench of pavement dirt, and the return to school beckoned.

Imagine our horror and dismay when a few years later we arrived at the park only to discover that some bright-spark had removed all the water from the pool and filled it with sand – Noooooooo!!

We never returned to Radipole Park after that cataclysmal event and began visiting Weymouth beach instead, but the beach never held the excitement or the camaraderie that our group of friends had enjoyed when we visited Radipole Park. Happy days.

Lorna Hatcher

Play Interview

Ben: Yeah, it’s over to you. Yeah. Good to go.

Lorna: I’m Lorna Hatcher and I’m, well, nearly 82. As far back as I can remember we were, my husband and I, were always at Radipole Park Drive. We used to go across the Radipole Lake after they built the path across, which was probably about 1946 when they built it.

And I wrote a poem, actually, about the Radipole Lake and going through the reeds. And we used to go over the swings a lot. And my husband, when he was about 13, used to make balsa wood airplanes and we used to take them down to Radipole Park Drive and fly them and I’d be screaming with excitement like a stupid little kid.

And us and our girlfriends we used to go over there a lot. And there was some like sun houses with flowers in at the beginning of, well, as you turned into where the swans are, the swannery, there were little glass houses as we used to call them and they were filled with beautiful flowers and we used to look in, my girlfriends and I, used to go in there and look at all the flowers and then walk up to Radipole Park Drive. And we used to take the neighbours children out in their prams and they give us like thruppence for taking the children off their hands for the afternoon. We’d be walking up Radipole Park Drive with these babies and prams.

And I remember one night we were going back and we left it a bit late and we walked across the new path that they’d built and one of the mothers was worried because it was getting dusk and they came to look for us and they found us walking half way along the path because they thought we’d go the road way and, anyway, it was alright going across the path into Goldcroft Road. And that’s where my husband’s buried, because that’s where we grew up. So, yeah, I’ve got really lovely memories of Radipole Park Drive.

Ben: And do you remember where you were saying about the bombing and the building of the bridge?

Lorna: Well, I can remember the bombing vaguely because I was about four and a half when the war finished, nearly five, but I was told they didn’t build a bridge straight away. But I think we were about seven or eight when we used to go across this bridge so it couldn’t
have been too long after the war. But I was told that that’s where they got the rubble from to build the path. And when we walked on it first we were worried that it was all going to go out into the water, you know, because you couldn’t imagine, before it was all water reeds.

My brother took me across there with his friend, over to Radipole Park Drive, and we walked across this path and the reeds and I wrote him this poem about it saying how it was a really hot afternoon, but when we went to go through the reeds it was hotter than ever because we were sheltered from any breeze there may have been. And I wanted to write this poem for years and years and I could not get started on it. And then one summer afternoon, I was out in the garden mowing my lawn and I had a backless dress on. It came up high at the top with straps around the neck and the back was totally bare. And I was mowing the lawn and my back was scorching in the sun, and I thought, my back’s really red hot and then I recalled it was the same as my brother’s hot back when he’d piggybacked me through the reeds and I could feel my little legs touching his hot back as he walked through the reeds.

And that gave me the inspiration to write the poem because I thought, well yes, and I started off with ‘brown rat’s tails, loosely hammered, framed my face. I lagged behind, I couldn’t walk your pace.’ And it was him and his friend, they were walking through the reeds and I was a bit… I looked up and I could see the ball rushes and I thought, I’m a bit frightened to go in there, because him and his, he was five years older than me and his friend the same age, and they were gonna sort of walk through and I hesitated, I didn’t want to walk through so then he piggybacked me and my little legs were against his hot back and it wasn’t till like, I was in my 50s I think when I wrote the poem, and I was mowing the lawn and my back was so hot and I thought that was just like Stan’s back. His back was as hot as that and then I could see myself. So I wrote this poem about the lake, Radipole Lake, and Park Drive, and how we came out on…I don’t know if you’ve ever been up Pottery Lane have you?

Ben: Yeah. Yep.

Lorna: Well, at the top of there, next to the cemetery, there was allotments. I’m not sure, I think they’re still there now, but anyway when we came out through the reeds we walked up that Pottery Lane and the boys were talking and they dumped me down outside the allotments and went in the allotments because we were all hungry. They were saying ‘we’re hungry, hungry’ and I thought, well I am, but I never said anything. And they plonked me down outside and a while later they came out with these carrots and we sat and ate these carrots.

And I remember thinking, I was only like four and a half, and I remember thinking won’t the gardener mind? Because I knew that my dad had an allotment and he was a keen gardener and I knew that they belonged to someone, even though I was only four and a half and I thought, oh!

And so that that was one of the last verses in the poem that I wrote that he stole the carrots. I suppose I’ve got loads more memories of Radipole Park Drive really, but that’s the main things I remember.

Ben: Yeah, that’s great. And have you still got a copy of the poem?

Lorna: Oh yes, on the internet. On You Tube.


So you could watch it if you like.

Click here to read a transcript of Lorna’s interview

Susan Charlton

I definitely remember the gardens from the late 1950s to 1966 when we lived in Hanover Road. We went over the railway bridge down to the park most days.

I was reminded of the circular planting around the blossom trees whilst planting out some big fat daisies the other day. We used to go to see the flower displays after Sunday School in our best clothes before going home for tea. My most lingering memory is of the beautiful blossom and fragrance of the flowers.

Autumn flowers Radipole gardensDuring the week we went past the tennis courts to the pond where we paddled and sailed motor boats. Once the motor cut out halfway across the pond and a kind man rolled up his trouser legs and retrieved the little boat for us.

As we grew up, we were more independent, offering our services as ball boys and girls on the tennis courts and searching for lizards with our friends. Wonderful times!

love radipole

We are passionate about our area. If you are interested in volunteering in Radipole Park & Gardens then please follow the link.

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eco development

We are planning to improve biodiversity in Radipole Park & Gardens. Find out more here.

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looking after nature

For the last two years we have been busy fundraising towards a sensory garden that will be created within a derelict area of the gardens.

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