Fitz Park
Fitz Park
Fitz Park

Looking across the wide expanse of Fitz Park, with Skiddaw and Latrigg in the background, today we can only be grateful that the first Trustees, over one hundred years ago, had the foresight to plant the area with so many woodland and specimen trees, which, in their maturity, add so much to the appearance and our enjoyment of the scene.

With open views towards Skiddaw (3053’) and Latrigg (1203’) to the North and with the River Greta flowing along its full length, the 28 acres of land that makes up Fitz Park must be one of the most attractive urban parks in the United Kingdom. Indeed, the cricket field within its area, was nominated in 2001 as “the Loveliest Cricket Ground in England” (Wisden).

Only five minutes stroll from The Moot Hall in Keswick’s busy town centre, the broad sweep of Fitz Park offers residents and visitors rest and recreation in a splendid setting. The smaller Upper Park has bowling and tennis facilities set among formal shrubberies and specimen trees. Lower Park is an impressive large open space dominated by mature trees and with views beyond to three thousand foot Skiddaw. Bordered by the River Greta, the whole Park creates an oasis in a busy world.

Spring in Lower Fitz Park
A BRIEF HISTORY

The Fitz Park Trust was established in April 1882 by a group of eminent local people, one of whom is remembered (H I Jenkinson) on the main gateway in Station Road.

Over 28 acres of riverside and land was bought for £7,049, then a considerable sum. A competition for the design and landscaping of the area was organised, with Upper Park to be a formal garden and games area, and the much larger Lower Park to be largely left as an open recreational area.

The winner of the £15 prize was a Mr W Fletcher from London, whose quotation for the contract was £2,226. The basic layout of Fitz Park has not changed significantly to this day, the only addition being the triangle of land across the River Greta, gifted to the Trust in 1923 and named after its donor, J B Wivell.

Cricket in Fitz Park
Bowls in Fitz Park THE TRUST

Throughout the past century a succession of Trustees worked hard to maintain the Park and the Museum, which was built in the grounds and opened in 1898, with an extension to house the Art Gallery completed in 1906. However, maintenance of the land and building was always a costly business; In more recent years the Trust only survived because of financial aid from the local authorities.

Eventually, in 1995, the Trust was transferred into the care of Keswick Town Council as the best way of securing its long term future and continuing the original objectives of a “public park and recreation ground for the use of the inhabitants of and visitors to the town of Keswick without distinction of political, religious or other opinions……”.

At the same time Allerdale Borough Council, as part of its Museums Service, accepted Trust status for the Museum and Art Gallery.

THE MUSEUM

The present day Keswick Museum and Art Gallery was built within the Park and dedicated to its generous patrons, Henry and Thomas Hewetson. Opened in 1898, sixteen years after the Trust was established, the building was extended to create an Art Gallery, which was completed in 1906.

The Victorian appearance of the Museum and Art Gallery has been retained and it mow contains significant collections of geological and natural history specimens. It is managed, in Trust, by the Museums Service of Allerdale Borough Council.

Tennis in Fitz Park
The Millennium Fountain THE FUTURE

Fitz Park is undergoing a development programme to enhance its traditional appearance and facilities. The formal shrubberies are being progressively rejuvenated, the river banks have been rebuilt and strengthened and a far seeing tree planting schedule is well under way as part of a town wide arboretum. The Millennium Stone fountain and a newly built sensory garden add to the attractiveness and general appeal of the whole area. The very popular and busy children’s playground is constantly being upgraded while there is a high level of maintenance of the sports pitches and open grassland.

Managing such a large park is a major undertaking for a charitable trust. Because of its limited revenue potential, the Park only survives because of financial support from the Hope Park Trust and the Borough (District) Council.

The Trust is always open to offers of help, in cash or kind; Memorial Seats, dedicated trees and general donations are some of the ways in which this superb facility can be supported and secured for the benefit of present and future generations.


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