The pocket park that packs a punch!
- Region: South West
- Founded/started on site: 2016
- Member since: 2017
- Link to member profile on our map
The space behind Ebenezer Gate (the entrance to the former Ebenezer Methodist Church) in Bedminster, Bristol is a narrow alleyway lined by an avenue of trees. Previously closed off and full of building waste and rubbish, since Spring 2016 the space has undergone a dramatic transformation into a 'pocket park’.
The local volunteers that manage the park - ‘The Ebenezer Angels’ - have achieved so much in a short time. The tiny space is now a hub for community events and certainly illustrates how sometimes the greatest things can come in small packages.
Carmel Ferguson told us more:
“The project emerged through an on-going collaboration between the Bedminster Improvement District (BID) and the architectural activism collective Hands-on-Bristol. Since 2013 this has brought together academics and Master of Architecture students from the Bristol School of Architecture with the community-led BID to explore ways to regenerate abandoned pockets of urban space in order to benefit and engage the local community.
“In October 2015, a small pocket of overgrown and fly-tipped land behind a stone archway, closed off to the public by a padlocked iron gate, was identified by the BID as a potential site of investigation. This initiated a sequence of critical spatial practices by Hands-on-Bristol that engaged local people, professionals and students in the eventual co-creation of a public pocket park.
“The Ebenezer Angels keep the space tidy and maintain the planting which aims to attract wildlife in this very urban setting. We have had donations of plants and equipment from a local garden centre and members of the local community after appeals on social media. A team of volunteers from Lloyds Banking Group visited the park in May 2016 as part of a CSR day and built raised beds and donated compost and plants We have made strong links with the local secondary school and some students have taken part in constructing further raised beds under the supervision of one of our volunteers.
"The park features curved 'story telling benches' that were designed by the UWE students, in collaboration with the Hands-on-Bristol collective, architect George Lovesmith and the fabricator John Griffiths of OOMA design and were funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government. Crafted in accoya wood that was generously gifted by James Lathams of Yate, the benches are designed in a semi-circle shape with high backs to give a sense of an enclosure where visitors can sit.
“We also have a Little Free Library, raised wooden planters (built by Lloyds Banking volunteers and students from nearby Ashton Park School), wildlife friendly planting and a community herb bed. Plants and compost were donated by Riverside Garden Centre and members of the public. .
“The day-to-day running of the park relies on donations and small grants and we have had several generous donations of plants, compost, materials and labour. We have also had three small grants from the Bedminster Secret Gardens Fund (money is raised by a community Open Gardens Trail every summer and is then distributed to local community gardening projects), and some match funding from the BID. We have also raised money through two plant sales.
“We’ve hosted a wide range of events since our opening ceremony including:
- A walking puppetry tour
- A photography exhibition
- An acoustic concert
- A Loud Library event
- A Christmas play performed by Show of Strength theatre company an held over three consecutive weeks during the late night Christmas shopping events
- An Easter Book Character Hunt and a Book Launch event in conjunction with the independent book shop next door
- A Christmas Kissing Gate and Christmas lights event in conjunction with the BID in December 2019
“We aslo open the park during community events such as the Bedminster Lanterns Parade, Keep Sunday Special, The BS3 Jamboree, North Street Fair and we are the location of an Upfest graffiti festival mural which attracts a lot of footfall.
“This year we are really looking forward to our 4th Birthday Party in April 2020. We’ve got lots to celebrate!”
You can see lots more lovely photos of the park and find out more here:
Finally, what do you value about being a member of SF&G?
"We really benefit from our SF&G membership - it's great to feel part of a supportive wider network and we have taken advantage of the seed discount scheme. The Resources section of the SF&G website has a wealth of information and we found the Community Growing Resource Pack really useful when setting up the project".