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A public park which was originally designed in 1845 by James Pennethorne, but was mostly developed in 1854 by John Gibson. The park was first opened to the public in 1854, but its official opening, by Queen Victoria, did not take place until 1858. Gibson also worked with James Pulham II (1820-1898) and James Pulham III (1845-1920) of James Pulham and Son between 1866 and 1870 in installing Pulhamite rockwork, including a cascade and rock garden around the lake. Originally the park was noted for its horticultural displays, but by the end of the 19th century this had been replaced by sporting provisions. During the First World War, allotments, an anti-aircraft station, and a clothing depot were set up in the park. Allotments were again laid out in the Second World War, as were a piggery, a barrage-balloon site, an experimental radio station, and an anti-aircraft gun site. A children's day nursery was also built near the south boundary. In 1951 part of the park was requisitioned and laid out as the Pleasure Gardens for the Festival of Britain. Whilst it was intended as a one-off event, some features of the Pleasure Gardens remained beyond 1951 and the funfair remained a permanent attraction until it was closed in 1974. Funding for a programme of restoration was secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 1998 and work was carried out between 2000 and 2004.

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