Local Resident Sheila Warr first visited the park in 1948 - she shares her memories below
My very first memory of Forster Park is when I was about four years old. My parents, brother and I had just moved into the newly built houses opposite the park in Whitefoot Lane in 1948. Several young families had moved into these houses and my mum used to take several of the neighbour’s children and myself up to the park. Where the Academy is now used to be a meadow with long uncut grass and on one occasion my mum took us up to play there and she kept hiding from us so as I couldn’t see her and me, only being 4 started to cry. However she soon appeared again so all was well.
Then as I got older we were allowed to play in the park and at the Whitefoot Lane side there was a bank with lots of trees on so we used to play up and down the bank hiding from each other among the trees.
When I was about 8 or 9 Mary Bennett who lived right opposite my house became a Play Leader and we used to go up to the park and do all sorts of activities. The boys played football and the girls played netball and we used to play matches with other parks such as Chinbrook Meadows at Grove Park, Home Park at Lower Sydenham and Southend Park in Southend Lane. Other activities included Scottish and Irish dancing and gymnastics, doing displays jumping over a box. Sometimes we did displays at other venues, such as the Ladywell Centre and I have a picture of Mary’s daughter, Pat and I way back in about 1956. Also as I was growing up Mum always told me that she and my dad did their courting in Forster Park which must have been in the mid-1930’s.
My next memories are of when my son was born and I used to take him to what was called the One O’clock club, although it did run from about 10.00 in the morning till about 4.00pm. It was for pre-school children and their parents/carers and again there were lots of activities for the children and of course it gave the parents/carers time to chat with other parents/carers. I can also remember there was a paddling pool too which was great on a hot day.
It was great when the Sports Pavillion was erected in memory of Mary Bennett as she had been such an inspiration to so many children as they grew up.
Now I am in my seventies I walk in the park whenever I can and during Lockdown in 2020 I made sure I walked there every day for an hour.
Yes, Forster Park has many great memories for me.
Local resident, Michelle Byrne, shares her childhood memories in the podcast below
Local resident, Robert Garlinge, shares why the park and linked walking group are so important to our communities.