Preston Open Day – 24th June, 11-4

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The last time Albion were promoted to the top division

If you were one of the estimated 100,000 who attended the Albion’s Victory Parade last Sunday, you may be interested to know of our own very local connection.

Former Albion star Andy Rollings has been the proprietor of the Chalet Cafe in Preston Park since the mid-1980s. Andy was a centre back the last time Albion were promoted to the top tier of English football, back in 1979, playing under manager Alan Mullery and alongside such stars as Mark Lawrenson. The parallels are interesting because Albion had only just failed to get promoted the previous season and then sealed their triumph with a win at Newcastle. Andy was on the bus on the victory parade in 1979 – and then invited on to the stage last Sunday along with other Albion stars of the past.

Andy was amazed at the turn out on Sunday and the sea of blue and white. ‘Just like being back at the Goldstone’ he reflected.

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Focus on Andy Jevons

Our Roving Reporter popped into the Rock Garden and conducted this interview:

Q. Hi Andy, would you tell me your job title?

A. Garden Manager, Rock Garden.

Q. Is it called the Rock Garden, the Rookery or the Rockery? Which is it?

A. It’s called the Rock Garden. The Rookery is the area in which the garden sits.

Q. How long have you worked as a member of park staff?

A. I joined in 1982 as a trainee. I completed my apprenticeship and worked in the nursery at Stanmer. I left for 5 years and rejoined 18 years ago – I’ve been in this post ever since.

Q. What is it you like about working here?

A. I like the chance to grow a fantastic range of plants from a variety of regions – and the chance to put my own stamp on the garden. And I enjoy working outside as a gardener. I remember I was on a garden design course at Plumpton College once, and my gaze kept drifting from the classroom towards the trees outside – that was where I wanted to be really. I hated being indoors!

Q. What are the things that frustrate you about the job?

A. Lack of respect for the garden from a minority. I see new planting trampled and unsupervised dogs creating havoc. At the moment, there are two ducks which are devastating the pond – they’re eating all the tadpoles and mini-beasts. It’s a real shame because those are the things that the kids like to see.

Q. What would you like to see for the future in the Rock Garden?

A. I’d like to see all the plants labelled. And to see the planting turn out exactly as I’d planned it! At the moment there are plans to re-do the area at the top of the wildflower bank: to take out some overgrown conifers and replace them with a more vibrant planting scheme. The scheme could include things like acers and possibly Italian cypresses.

Q. Do you have any help in the garden?

A. I have a team of up to 9 volunteers who are the icing on the cake in this garden – they really are fab! I also have occasional help from Community Payback teams, people from local businesses such as American Express plus occasional help from local colleges.

Q. What are you the most proud of in the garden Andy?

A. I’m most proud of the planting scheme that generates colour from February to November: bulbs, shrubs, herbaceous plants and trees all providing successive colour. Colour makes people happy!

Thank you Andy. Lots to see at the moment in the Rock Garden, especially good is the wildflower bank which is covered in cowslips. And the wildlife there is very rich. Make sure you say Hi to Andy.

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Nature update

Butterflies seen recently around the Rock Garden and the Walled Garden include orangetips, brimstones, peacocks, common blues and small whites. Let us know if you spot any more varieties.

Brimstone butterfly

We were thrilled to hear of a sighting of treecreeper birds in the trees in woodland walk – quite near the playground. They usually hang out in the elms by the main road but haven’t been seen for a while. Mind you, they’re hard to spot. They are tiny, have long, slender down-curved bills and are speckly brown in colour. As the name suggests, they cling on to the bark and creep around the trunks of trees looking for insects. Here’s a pic of one:


You may have noticed that the newts in the Rotunda pond are busy breeding at the moment. Please leave them be – I know it’s tempting for children to play with them, but it’s important that they remain undisturbed. Same with dogs really – not good for the poor old newts when dogs go splashing through the pond! A notice has been ordered to ask that the newts be left alone; we’re hoping that it will be erected soon.

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Winners of the drawing competition

Helena, age 4 (isn’t she great!)

Betty, age 10

Jimmy, age 8


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Pictures from the Easter event

Here’s Otto – he was the first one to complete the hunt successfully

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Easter Egg Hunt 2017

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Parking update

You may very well know by now that parking in the park is back to normal, thank goodness.

The parking areas are no longer choked with vehicles that really ought not to be there, like commuters’ cars and traders’ vans. It’s good for Preston Park because all the money from parking charges is ring-fenced for the benefit of the park. The new signage makes the charging clear and paying by phone is pretty painless.

Here’s a few pics, including one which describes the restrictions of the Public Spaces Protection Order. That notice is worth a look.

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HEMA lads

Last Tuesday’s beautiful day brought out tennis players, walkers, parents with buggies . . . and these gents. They were practising HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) on the pétanque court. The looked very impressive and fearsome as they wielded their swords, and attracted several onlookers.

Thanks to Leo, Edmund and Etienne. (Hope your knuckles hurt a little less now.)

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Focus on … Bill Wickham

Bill is a long-standing member of Preston Park staff. Here’s his story:

How well do you know the Preston area?

Well, I can trace my family here to around the 16th century. I’ve always lived here and played in the park as a child. I loved the playground and rode around with my friends on the cycle track. I remember the park policeman – we weren’t allowed in the shrubbery let alone set foot on the bowling green. We respected the police, and they knew all of us children. My uncle worked in Withdean Park and knew the gardeners of Preston Park.

So when did you join as a member of park staff?

I joined the Parks Department in 1977 as a Trainee. I was based in Dyke Road Park, but the training at that time lasted 3 years during which I spent 6 months in 6 park areas – including the seafront – as well as Preston Park. In 1979 there were 31 staff dedicated to Preston Park, including the Rock Garden and the Preston Manor area. In 1997 I was based in Preston Park.

What do you like about your job?

I like the variety. The different areas of the park, for instance the Rose Garden, the bedding, the sports and the estates work; that is, working in places like Hollingdean and Patcham housing estates. I reckon I spend about 50% of my time in Preston Park.

What don’t you like?

I don’t like the way the park looks run down. Nor do I like the way that some people fail to respect the park, for instance allowing children or dogs to run through the roses. A lot of roses have been destroyed that way. What would you like to see for the future of the park? I would love to see the flowerbeds along the road reinstated. We used to have such nice comments about them. If there was the money, I’d like to see the park how it was in its heyday – around 1910-1920: fenced and looking more stately. People would again take pride in their park. If I had a Lottery win I would like to think I’d put money towards realising that.

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