My house nearly back onto this facility. I've lived here for about 45 years.
This place was built just prior to WW2 as a public facility with a nice Art Deco pavilion at the top of the site, woodland, open grass areas, pitches, astro turf, hard tennis courts, busy dry ski slope, crazy golf, putting, changing rooms, toilets, athletics, cyclo cross course, flat green bowls. The buildings always look rather tired, especially towards the Children's Pleasure Park but otherwise well maintained. Supposed to have a boating lake (was concrete bottomed and about two feet deep) see below. Golf course adjacent. The site has vehicle control but is effectively open all the time.
Its use has of course gradually evolved into what it is today but the basic landscaping is nearly as it was originally in the 1930's. Not all of the buildings seem to be used as extensively as they did, especially the attractively designed pavilion. It failed to make the grade as a pub and I'm not sure of what's planned for it.
The boating lake that I remember as good fun as a teenager has been filled in while drainage to the adjacent golf course is being changed but there is currently a conflict between the original plan to fill it in as a wildlife conservation area (that is to say a cheap fix as it's somewhere to dump the excavated stuff from the drainage holding pool and to satisfy the nannyist nature of society today) and those who want it returned to its original purpose.
There's a Children's Pleasure Park that was there when I was young and that we took our kids to. Reviewed separately.
Ample at more than one location except when there is a major event taking place. Parking then spills out to the surrounding narrow streets.
It is a great place for young kids under close supervision but it is not a secure closed area. There is one such place next to the Pleasure Park which itself is secure for kids apart from the entrance gate. There's also another small secure playground, Jack's Corner, at the other end of the site. Dog fouling can be a problem. As the site can be accessed from so many points, is ungated and has wooded areas it makes sense to keep an eye on where kids get to. Mine had no trouble at all and from the age of eleven, my son spent many hours on his bike in the woods up to Winchester Road and further out towards Lords Wood and Chilworth. That would be in about 1994. Don't remember any reports of flashers but need to take care and use common sense of course.
As a place to go, it's nice to stroll there especially in the summer; windy and exposed in the winter. It's no more or less dangerous than anywhere else like the nearby Common (recent knife attack on the Common notwithstanding). You do see small groups of youths just "hanging out" there but I've never had the slightest problem with them. Site staff are there at the main office during the working day and there's a maintenance depot near Jack's Corner as well as a Southampton City main depot near the ski slope. In the middle is another office that deals with the changing rooms and courts (I think) so the place is generally well manned. Lit along the tarmac paths and around the central athletics track. Margins of some pitches are bordered by wooded areas. Personally I think it better not to be in a lit area where you can be observed from a concealed position.
Used extensively for dog walking and it's a really nice place to do this. Visibility is good but there are wooded areas and as already stated, the area is not secure so dogs can run off (ask me how I know). Plenty of dog excrement bins but it's a wide open space and many dogs are allowed off lead. As ever, not everybody cleans up their dog's mess and those that run free can get away with it it would seem.
The user photos at the moment are of the Children's Pleasure Park and don't reflect the nature of the place at all. I'm going to put that right when I get a minute.
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