Thousands attend funday at Romford Park

A challenge taken up by a group of community volunteers a decade ago reached a peak on Sunday as Cottons Park was given back to families.

The eight strong ‘Friends of Cottons Park’ revelled in the success of their seventh fun day at the London Road park, but as chairman Ian Selby said: “With this event we have achieved our original aim of making Cottons Park welcoming and returning the space to local families.”

An estimate 2,000 visitors took advantage of sunny day and enjoyed a host of attractions with marching twirlers, fairground rides, stalls from the community, music by Copperface Jack and a display of Morris dancing by the unique Romford Liberty Morris who dance dressed as motorbikers.

The group are looking for new members and can join at Fairkytes in Hornchurch any Thursday evening

During the day young pedal bikers showed off their skills in a specially organised BMX competition on the new ramps provided by the Friends.

“We spent �90,000 putting in new ramps,” said Ian. “It has been a growing sport and the youngsters are here every day as the facilities take some beating.”

The latest award to London parks flew proudly as the ‘Friends’ displayed their recently achieved Green Flag.

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The once notorious piece of greenery in Romford was rife with dangers as vandals regularly damaged the facilities and after dark gangs of drunken thugs and drug users kept people away, but is was also the spur by the volunteers to get something done.

“It really was a terrible place at one time,” said Ian. “People were literally frightened to go into the park at times as it was intimidating.”

The decline started in the 1980s with the removal of the park keeper.

“Something needed doing as it was a beautiful place so we got together and it is amazing what eight people can achieve in just ten years.”

The space was once part of the Cottons estate and owned back in 1568 (cor) by Nicholas Cotton. The manor house has long gone but the grounds were bought by the Council in 1920 for �4,500. It soon became a popular place to visit having its own bandstand.

“There is still lots to do,” said Ian. “We are introducing some new adult swings but people want events to enjoy, so this year we will be holding a Halloween fun party and a Christmas Carol concert round the tree with the choir from St Andrews.

“People have really enjoyed the day and it good to see so many just having fun on a sunny day in a beautiful park.”

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