St.James' Park - A Tour

A Tour of St.James' Park

Plan of St.James' Park Scenic Walkway & North-East & North-West Entrances Central Pitch & Pathways Botanical Walk Gazebo Games Area Tennis Courts Young Play Area ParkLife Building Park Perimeter & Southern Entrances

Updated: 20th May 2012

The plan on the right shows the different areas of the restored and improved St.James' Park.

Click on an area on the plan, or in the list below, to find out more about that part of the Park:

Scenic Walkway and North-West & North-East Entrances

Updated: 10th October 2012

Photo of North Bank, September 2009

BEFORE - North Bank, September 2009
(Helen Hazlewood)

Photo of Scenic Walkway, April 2012

AFTER - Scenic Walkway, April 2012
(Nichola Caveney)

Photo of NE Corner of Park before NE Entrance added

BEFORE - NE Corner of Park, July 2009
(Michaela Lawler‑Levene)

Photo of NE Entrance, April 2012

AFTER - NE Entrance, April 2012
(Nichola Caveney)

What used to be here?

A twin‑gated ramped vehicular entrance to the north‑west and a grass bank across the north of the park, upon which in 2008 FoSJP had created a Local Floral Nature Reserve of wild flowers.

What's here now?

The North-West Entrance has been retained; it now uses the gate that was previously at the original Winchester Road entrance, disused since the early 1980s; the old gate has been replaced with new sections of railing, retaining the original gate posts as an historical marker.

There's now a Scenic Walkway which traverses the grass bank across the north of the park, with three new lookouts with benches. To the western end, there's a new pedestrian gate from the NW Entrance into the Scenic Walkway; to the eastern end, the Scenic Walkway drops down to meet the NE corner of the pathway around the Central Pitch. The grass bank has been restored and seeded with grass and wild flowers. FoSJP's two nature‑related information signs have been re‑installed, one in front of each of the lateral lookout benches, and FoSJP will be commissioning a new heritage‑related sign for installation in front of the central lookout bench.

There's now a small North-East Entrance with rustic timber steps and a timber handrail up to the pavement near the traffic lights at the junction of St.James' Road and Winchester Road.

Historical Connections

The new information sign in front of the central lookout bench will include old photographs and text explaining that behind the lookout used to be the main Winchester Road entrance to the park, which became disused sometime in the 1980s as the terraced ground became unstable.

Up near where the new NE Entrance meets the park railings, there used to be a Victorian wrought iron gentlemen's toilet.

Why was it designed this way?

Using this area

Central Pitch & Pathways

Updated: 12th May 2012

Photo of Central Pitch, September 2009

BEFORE - Central Pitch, September 2009
(Helen Hazlewood)

Photo of Central Pitch, April 2012

AFTER - Central Pitch, April 2012
(Nichola Caveney)

What used to be here?

The Central Pitch was bounded on west, north, and east sides by asphalt pathways with benches and bins.

What's here now?

The Central Pitch has been retained, with a small reduction to accommodate a new asphalt pathway running across its south side. Worn‑out benches have been replaced with new ones, and bins have replaced. The west, north, and east pathways have been resurfaced with bonded gravel, and distance markers have been added for runners and joggers.

Why was it designed this way?

We wanted to keep the Central Pitch largely unchanged, as an open area for free use to complement the more structured play facilities offered in the park's play areas.

Historical Connections

Older residents have reported that in World War II there were Andersen shelters built into the west bank; we're hoping to find documentary evidence of this.

Using this area

Botanical Walk

Updated: 12th May 2012

Photo of Rose Garden, September 2009

BEFORE - Rose Garden (from W), September 2009
(Helen Hazlewood)

Photo of Botanical Walk

AFTER - Botanical Walk (from S), July 2011
(Michaela Lawler‑Levene)

What used to be here?

The new Botanical Walk runs up what used to be the eastern side of the old Rose Garden, bounded by a yew hedge to the east.

Sadly, during the restoration and improvement works it was discovered that three of the mature flowering cherry trees, which we'd hoped to keep, were suffering from terminal fungal diseases; these had to be removed, but a total of 19 new cherry trees were planted.

What’s here now?

The Botanical Walk runs in a south‑north direction from the Café Plaza up to the south pathway to the Central Pitch, with planting beds and flowering trees to both east and west, and a new yew hedge to the west. It has a natural Yorkstone finish, bordered with strips of resin bound gravel and aluminium plant bed edging, with black wrought iron benches and bins located on both sides.

Where the Botanical Walk meets the Central Pitch's south pathway, it spreads out in a trapezoid shape, in the middle of which is a Gazebo, with further planting beds and timber benches laid out perpendicularly to the west and east of the main Botanical Walk.

To the west of the Gazebo is a drinking fountain. Two thirds of the way up the Botanical Walk is a small crossroads, with a self closing gate to the west into the Young Play Area, and an open entrance to the east into the Games Area.

Using this area

We're hoping in future to install display boards explaining the various plants that have been chosen for the Botanical Walk.

FoSJP has also started up a Gardening Team to look after and add to the plants in the Botanical Walk.

Gazebo

Updated: 12th May 2012

Photo of Gazebo

AFTER - Gazebo, from within Young Play Area, July 2011
(Martin Caveney)

Photo of Gazebo Lyrics

AFTER - Parklife lyrics underneath Gazebo, July 2011
(Michaela Lawler‑Levene)

What used to be here?

The Gazebo is located in what used to be the empty north‑east corner of the old Rose Garden.

What’s here now?

The Gazebo is located at the north end of the Botanical Walk, where it opens out onto the Central Pitch's south pathway. Constructed of galvanized steel, it rests upon two arcs of concrete ring beam with a polished seating surface, and supports 12 panels of photovoltaic cells which provide electricity that's taken back to the ParkLife Building. Underneath the Gazebo is a central design with the lyrics from the chorus of "Parklife" by Blur.

Why was it designed this way?

Before the tender for the restoration and improvement works went out, two options had been considered: a traditional timber gazebo with a pitched roof, and a modern metal structure whose shape would reflect the "wing" shape of the roof extension to the building. The metal structure was the best option suitable to support photovoltaic cells.

Photovoltaic cells have been installed to reflect a commitment to being energy conscious, saving energy and using renewable energy where possible, and to encourage others to do likewise.

See our Energy in the Park page for more information on the photovoltaic cells and other energy‑saving measures in the Park.

The chorus of "Parklife" reflects FoSJP's intention to bring everyone in the community together.

Historical Connections

In the original Shirley Recreation Ground plans from c.1910, a bandstand was planned in roughly the same location as the Gazebo, but was never built.

Games Area

Updated: 11th December 2016

Photo of old Tennis Courts

BEFORE - Old Tennis Courts, September 2009
(Helen Hazlewood)

Photo of Games Area Shelter Photo of Games Area Tyre Swing
Photo of Games Area Gym Equipment
Photo of Games Area Climbing Wall Photo of Games Area Basketball Court

AFTER - Games Area, July 2011
(Michaela Lawler‑Levene)

What used to be here?

Two tennis courts: one asphalt and one grass, both in very poor condition.

What’s here now?

A multi‑purpose Games Area with:

Back in 2011, space was left in the bark surfaced area for an outdoor Table Tennis table, which FoSJP was trying to fund for a future improvement - the Table Tennis table was finally installed in December 2016.

Why was it designed this way?

The equipment was selected after many consultations with local schoolchildren and residents, and is intended to appeal to a wide range of age groups.

Using this Area

Tennis Courts

Updated: 27th April 2013

Photo of Grass Area

BEFORE - Grass Area to north of Building, March 2010
(Geoff Gravelson)

Photo of new Tennis Courts

AFTER - New Tennis Courts, July 2011
Bonus points for identifying ex-British No.1 player!
(photo by Martin Caveney)

What used to be here?

There used to be a flat grass area to the north of the building.

What’s here now?

There are now two modern asphalt tennis courts, in two‑tone green, fully fenced in.

Why was it designed this way?

The original tennis courts were popular, despite their poor quality. Grass courts are very expensive to maintain and it's difficult to keep a consistent bounce, so a modern asphalt surface was selected.

Historical Connections

Tennis courts have been in St.James' Park as far back as the 1930s, as shown on an Ordnance Survey map from 1933.

Using this Area

There is no booking system for the Tennis Courts: simply come along and wait your turn to play.

If the 30‑minute limit in busy times is not kept, then a booking system might have to be imposed.

Young Play Area

Updated: 12th May 2012

Photo of playground, September 2009

BEFORE - Playground, September 2010
(Helen Hazlewood)

Photo of YPA play towers, July 2011

AFTER - Young Play Area - Play Towers, July 2011
(Michaela Lawler‑Levene)

Photo of YPA zipwire, July 2011

AFTER - Young Play Area - Zipwire, July 2011
(Michaela Lawler‑Levene)

Photo of YPA toddler section, November 2011

AFTER - Young Play Area - Toddler Section, November 2011
(Martin Gardner)

What used to be here?

The Young Play Area is located on the site of the old Children's Playground and what used to the Rose Garden, except for the area of the Rose Garden that is now part of the Botanical Walk.

What’s here now?

The Young Play Area is enclosed in dog‑proof fencing, and comprises two parts.

The southern part has 4 benches, 2 litter bins, and a range of play features:

The northern part mostly comprises a flat grass area with 3 benches, a litter bin, 3 grassed "Teletubby" mounds, and 6 new trees.

We hope to get 3 picnic benches installed here in the future.

Occupying both parts of the Young Play Area, to the west is a 50m zipwire, running from a high platform in the southern part to a landing zone in the northern part.

Why was it designed this way?

The range of equipment was selected after many consultations with local schoolchildren and residents, and is intended to appeal to a wide range of age groups.

Originally a set of large swings was installed in the southern part, but after listening to feedback from the parents that there wasn't enough equipment for younger children, Southampton City Council arranged for these swings to be replaced by a second toddler hut and a trampoline, and also to increase the area of rubberised safety surface.

Using this area

Dogs, alcohol, and bicycles are strictly prohibited in this area.

ParkLife Building

Updated: 12th May 2012

Photo of Building, July 2009

BEFORE - ARP Building with FoSJP Kiosk, July 2009
(Martin Gardner)

Photo of building, March 2010

BEFORE - ARP Building, March 2010
(Geoff Gravelson)

Photo of new Café, July 2011

AFTER - ParkLife Café, July 2011
(Michaela Lawler‑Levene)

Photo of Café window artwork, July 2011

AFTER - ParkLife Café window artwork, July 2011
(Michaela Lawler‑Levene)

What used to be here?

An Air Raid Precaution (ARP) building dating from World War II, surrounded by asphalt. The building was formed of two halves, with large concrete slabs for floor and ceiling. There was an externally accessible disabled toilet, re‑opened in 2006 after successful campaigning by FoSJP.

FoSJP had established a kiosk in this building to serve drinks and light refreshments, which operated from August 2006 until September 2010.

What’s here now?

The ARP building has been refurbished throughout and extended to add a café area, a commercial catering kitchen, external decking to the south‑west, and a viewing platform to the north, overlooking the new Tennis Courts. A new timber roof has been added, with a waterproof membrane, a wing‑like extension over the new decking, and 5 feature rooflights.

The inside of the building has been modified with a new underfloor heating system, an internal WC for café customers, a new Community Room, offices, and storage areas. The building now has upgraded electricity, gas, and mains water supplies, and a new drainage system.

The Building is now surrounded by a bonded gravel surface, with 4 palm trees planted in tree pits in the Café Plaza area between the Building and the Young Play Area, and a Heat Pump/Bin Store at the foot of the bank near St.James' Road.

Visit our Café and Community Room pages to find out more about the ParkLife Café & Community Room.

Why was it designed this way?

See our Energy in the Park page for more information on energy‑saving measures in the Park.

Historical Connections

The building was constructed during World War II as an ARP building. FoSJP has commissioned artwork on the café windows showing a cityscape with representations of key buildings in Southampton and a skyline showing a scene from the Battle of Britain, as a tribute to the Spitfire, parts of which were built in many local factories.

Using the Building

Park Perimeter & Southern Entrances

Updated: 12th May 2012

Photo of SE Entrance, April 2012

AFTER - SE Entrance, April 2012
(Nichola Caveney)

What used to be here?

The Park was enclosed by original Edwardian railings, with two entrances in addition to the North‑West Entrance described above:

What’s here now?

Why was it designed this way?

Using this area

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