Rowntree Park, Terry Avenue

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Rowntree park is located on the riverside of the Ouse on Terry Avenue. A gift to the City of York by Rowntree & Co in 1921 this park was created to improve the life and well-being of the Rowntree staff and the people of York in commemoration of the 200 staff who died during the first world war. This was York’s first municipal park.

One of the several statues found throughout the park

Recently Improved and Awarded the Green Flag

The sprawling 30 acre park has recently undergone a £1.8m refurbishment courtesy of the heritage lottery fund and has been awarded the green flag every year since 2004.

Although the original outdoor pool is no longer here, after being demolished in the 1980’s despite much public protest, nor the very popular aviaries, which once housed pheasants, parrots, finches and other exotic birds. The birds were deemed a bad idea and were not restocked after the great floods of the 1930’s when the cages were filled with water resulting in their deaths. Despite this there is still a lot on offer in the park, which is full of fun activities and other wildlife.

A water feature in the park

There is an ornamental lake half with ducks and geese, the other half being used for sailing model boats. There is a skate park by the Terry Street entrance with a great selection of jumps, ramps, halfpipes and rad dudes (we’re hip) on skateboards with the odd scooter. There is also a basketball court, six tennis courts and two pristine bowling greens. In fact the whole park is always in pristine condition thanks to the maintenance staff and park warden who opens the large, listed gates at 8am on weekdays, 9am at weekends and closes them again at dusk.

A duck next to the ornamental lake – aka the duck pond

The grand gates at the Terry Street entrance to Rowntree park were also donated by philanthropist Joseph Rowntree, this time after the Second World War during which the majority of the Rowntree factory was converted so the production lines made 37mm anti-aircraft shells instead of chocolate. Both wars are commemorated by plaques in the Lych Gate, in the centre of the park next to the statue and fountains.

A mosaic map of Rowntree Park near the park entrance

A mosaic map made by the Friends of Rowntree Park, a local community group formed in 1966 to protect and promote the park, is located by the entrance. Look carefully and you can make out the large children’s play area with climbing frames, swings and see-saws, the woodlands walk and tree trails as well as the bandstand area, cafe and toilets.

Fun on the climbing frame

The friends of Rowntree Park was set up in conjunction with the local council and both groups work together to preserve and promote the park and to make best use of it. Every year there is a party in the park, to celebrate the handing over of the park to the council and people of York by Rowntree and Co in July 1921.

Plaque commemorating the handing-over of the park

Another project they they are working on is the 1970’s pavilion which is currently unusable due to the park repeatedly flooding and the building suffering from water ingress and damp. Unfortunately, due to it’s location, so close to the river Ouse, the flooding is something that will continue to occur, so the community group are looking at ways they can have a replacement building that avoids the same problems.

One of the main ideas currently being looked into is an eco-friendly construction by a Dutch company which is surrounded by stilts. The theory goes that as the water level rises, the building will keep afloat of the water, but in the same position in the park, it just moving up and down the stilts accordingly. Having a serviceable pavilion would maximise the use of the park and provide it with new changing rooms and a meeting place for local community groups and park staff.

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