As it celebrates its 40th birthday Ferry Meadows remains the “green jewel of Peterborough,” according to Adrian Oates, head of fundraising at Nene Park Trust.
With its own watersports centre, play areas and endless meadows, lakes and woodland, the country park in Ham Lane, off Oundle Road, continues to be hugely popular with 1.2 million visits last year.
Yet four decades on Ferry Meadows has not changed much since it first opened up to the public.
“It’s a bit like a brand new garden - when you plant trees in the garden you watch them grow and mature,” said Mr Oates.
Ten and 30-year master plans for the trust have been launched in the past year to add to the numerous activities already on offer, while last year more than £100,000 was invested in the country park, which included path improvements, tree and shrub planting and the installation of new gates, seats and statues.
The biggest change in recent years was the introduction of daily car parking charges in March 2016, yet people continue to visit Ferry Meadows in huge numbers.
“It’s still as popular as ever. More than 1.8 million people visited Nene Park in 2017, of which 1.2 million visited Ferry Meadows,” said Mr Oates.
“The numbers are steadily improving year on year. There’s no dip which is great. It is one of the most popular country parks in the UK.
“I think it’s the green jewel of Peterborough. It’s such a fantastic asset - it’s a wonderful place and we try our hardest for people to enjoy it.
“What is so special is so many people enjoy themselves and we have more and more volunteers coming and helping us look after the park.
“I have fond memories of the firework displays we used to do here. Those were special times.”
Firework Fiesta was a popular annual event at Ferry Meadows before organisers announced in 2011 that a new venue was needed.
However, the popular weekly Peterborough parkrun and annual Race for Life in support of Cancer Research UK continue to operate there, and going back in time the country park featured in war film Dirty Dozen - Next Mission with Lee Marvin finding himself living out of a caravan.
It is all a far cry from when the Peterborough Development Corporation set aside 2,000 acres of land to create the park.
“There was a big development plan for Peterborough and they wanted green space for recreation,” added Adrian.
“In the 70s when they were building the houses they created Ferry Meadows at the same time.
“The big lakes in the middle were quarries which were used to build the roads. They left behind holes which they put water in.
“It was a really good bit of planning.”
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