Volunteer makes a country park bench fit for the Queen

Not for the first time, volunteers – in this case Jonathan Tolhurst – have done something which, really, ought to be carried out by Croydon’s council. If only they had the money…

Make a date: fund-raising calendars will be on sale on Oct 22

“As a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, I have restored a disused bench in South Norwood Country Park,” Tolhurst has noted, succinctly and modestly (he might be getting orders for more benchwork soon), after posting this video on YouTube at the weekend.

And the Friends of South Norwood Country Park will be out and about again on the morning of Saturday October 22, outside the visitor centre, selling their 2023 calendar – full of photographs taken in the Country Park – to raise funds towards their environmental and conservation activities in the park in the coming 12 months.

Read more about volunteers working hard to preserve our open spaces: Community activist is leading fight to save Love Lane gardens
Read more: Sensible? Norwood garden party goes ahead – despite rain

And hear more:

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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3 Responses to Volunteer makes a country park bench fit for the Queen

  1. Talking of benches, the council gave me a quick FoI response on where the benches from Queen’s Gardens have gone.

    “All of the memorial benches that were located in the Queen’s Gardens prior to the development of the site, are located at the Grounds Maintenance depot, Central Nursery, Conduit Lane depot, CR0 5RQ for safe keeping”.

  2. Sharon says:

    Well done Jonathan, fantastic job. It looks beautiful.

  3. Lewis White says:

    There used to be a woodwork shop at that depot, where the substantial ornamental teak benches from Queens Gardens used to be overhauled and revarnished. Maybe it still exists, but there was no commitment in the response above for them to be sent back out to any Croydon park or site to be reused.

    These are probably teak or another tropical hardwood. Or a dense pine timber. Some might be very old.

    With benches there are only a few choices–
    refurbish them ( at a workshop) stripping and revarnishing every 5 or so years / re-oil them every year or so, to stop decay.

    Or install them and let them stay there and mend them with new wood if slats get broken or torched, or chopped with axes.

    Or leave them, forget them, and, when they rot, remove them.

    (the Norwood benches are an interesting variation– they seem to have been totally forgotten, and might have stayed there under the weed and long grass, until the timber had rotted, and the steel frame rusted away-had Mr Tollhurst not rescued them).

    I wonder what the Royal Parks do with their benches in places like Hyde Park. And other Councils like Nottingham– once the Mecca or Nirvana of traditional Park management. Is it now?

    My guess is that few councils choose the refurb route– Croydon was an exception to the rule long after most councils abandoned the maintenance option. With low value benches, it is probably cheaper to replace a dead bench. The Queens Gardens ones were probably higher value items. Even so, municipal bench refurbishment is now almost a thing of the past.

    Taking them back to the depot and storing them sounds OK but, It would be a great pity if these benches rot away outdoors in some forgotten corner of that depot, and then get skipped, or get burnt to free up space in the yard. Or, if stored indoors, it is likely that someone will decide after a few years that “those old benches have been lying there all these years– we need space–let’s get shot of them.”

    Does the council have plans to reuse them somewhere, in a park, or cemetery, perhaps?

    If not, It would be good if the council could take photos of all the benches in stock, and email local Frends of Parks, the Croydon University Hospital, schools and local heroes like Mr Tollhurst to see if they have a site where the benches would have a good home.

    If there are no takers, put them on E-bay.
    Or send them to be chipped and made into chipboard furniture.

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