Clapham Recreation Ground
Clapham’s Recreation Ground exists thanks to the generosity and foresight of the Somerset family. Mrs Gwendoline Somerset donated the area as a ‘Pleasure Ground’ in the 1930s, to provide free access to all Clapham parishioners ‘in perpetuity’. The land is held in trust by the Clapham Recreation Ground Trust.
The Recreation Ground was leased by the Trust to Arun District Council for many years; ADC maintained the area until 2017, when they terminated the lease and responsibility for maintenance therefore passed back to the Trustees. In 2019 Clapham Parish Council was granted a 21-year lease by the Trust, which meant that the Council took over responsibility for maintenance.
Arun DC had also provided and subsequently maintained the playground equipment. Unfortunately, when ADC withdrew, the ageing play equipment had to be removed as the Trust had no funds to renovate or replace it.
However, a fortunate combination of events has provided the Parish Council with the perfect opportunity to restore the playground area to be enjoyed by everyone. The Clapham Playground Restoration group had been set up to restore the play equipment after its initial removal. The group generated over £6000 through their tireless fund-raising efforts, generously supported by the local community; they donated the entire sum to the Council for the new playground.
Quite by chance in October 2019 the Council also received over £24000, through a Community Infrastructure Levy from a small development of houses, to be used for the benefit of the community.
And then… Clapham Recreation Ground, as a small pocket of land located at the heart of the community, found itself ideally suited to receive a grant under the Government Funded ‘Pocket Parks’ scheme which ran at the end of 2019. By February 2020 the Parish Council had secured an award of £25000!
Notwithstanding the pandemic, the new children’s play area has now been installed. The area now incorporates 2 pieces of adult gym equipment, and work is scheduled to provide a disabled access path and refurbish the existing seats in the near future.
Two of the great-great-great grandchildren of Mrs Gwendoline Somerset enjoy the newly installed roundabout!