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Tony Grist

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Haysden Country Park [May. 4th, 2019|09:06 am]
Tony Grist
As you swing past Tonbridge on the A21 the road crosses a wooded, watery area by way of a long viaduct which has a notice at the top end of it which says "weak bridge"- (It turns out that the weak bridge isn't the viaduct but a lesser bridge that crosses the railway a little further on but the casual motorist isn't to know) and I've often wondered about it.

Yesterday I learned its name. It's called Haysden Country Park. We went there yesterday on a whim after the appointment at the opticians. It looks rather different at ground level. There are woods, watermeadows, running water, standing water, a well-appointed play area and a café that serves very good food- including home=made ice lollies; the grandkids would love it.

The water is provided by the river Medway. In the 1830s there was an attempt to straighten the river's course between Tonbridge and Penshurst by putting in a canal. When this failed the engineer- a Mr Christie- remembered a pressing engagement in America, leaving behind the scars of excavation and a large empty lock built of huge stones that may or may not have been nicked out of Tonbridge Castle. Later the area was mined for sand and gravel.

The sand and gravel people moved out in 1980 and the Haysden Valley- or whatever it was called back then- was left as a post industrial mess. A major road went over it, a river and railway went through it. There was a weir on the river with a pool where people bathed and boated and fished; they called it Tonbridge Lido and it was in danger of collapse.

Someone decided this just wasn't good enough.

There was a plan, there was landscaping, paths were put in, trees planted, the gravel pits became lakes...

Barden Lake, Haysden Country Park, Tonbridge

(The information in this post mostly comes from a leaflet picked up on site.)

[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2019-05-04 12:50 pm (UTC)
That lake looks beautiful and tranquil. I'm glad they managed to make an asset out of an industrialmess.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-05-04 03:26 pm (UTC)
It seems well-used and well-loved. A number of the people using the café were regulars.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2019-05-04 12:58 pm (UTC)
recylcing of the best kind!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-05-04 03:31 pm (UTC)
Yes, indeed.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2019-05-04 02:49 pm (UTC)
It is such a good thing when no longer used industry can be turned into a place of beauty. Where I grew up there were many gravel pits that are now lovely parks like this one so I appreciate that sort of recycling a lot!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-05-04 03:38 pm (UTC)
We saw it happening around Manchester when we lived there- the mills pulled down, the industrial sites grassed over. Oldham had once been a mass of tall chimneys- by the time we left they'd almost all disappeared.
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[User Picture]From: puddleshark
2019-05-04 03:39 pm (UTC)
What a gorgeous picture!

They've done a lovely job of restoration there.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-05-04 03:45 pm (UTC)
It rather took my breath away. I had no idea it was there.
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