The new Seldown Park Poole Town Centre

Last news: 27th April 2012

Project Details

With this project we improved the concourse fronting the Dolphin swimming pool (now known as Everyone Active Leisure Centre) by raising the quality of landscaping and providing a more attractive space for people to enjoy.

The concourse was an uninviting, poorly used space in a key town centre location. Pedestrian links are overly hard landscaped, untidy and uninspiring. A wall, raised beds and planters block various sightlines and the whole area would clearly benefit from new landscaping.

The new 'Seldown Park'

In addition to installing new lighting, bike racks, bins and benches we have created wide terraced grass banks and a bespoke central feature that involved local residents in its design.  We have also planted new shrubs and 29 semi-mature trees, whilst retaining the Mulberry tree to the front of the Leisure Centre.

The exterior of the Everyone Active: Poole Leisure Centre has been cleaned and the small staff car park has been resurfaced, helping to further improve the look of the area.

Council’s Transportation Services has also created a new pedestrian ramp across Kingland Road and resurfaced the pavement adjacent to new Park.

The improved space is known as ‘Seldown Park', in recognition of Seldown House that once stood in the grounds of the original Poole Grammar School (before it moved in 1966), which lends its name to the adjacent bridge.

Seldown Park has become an attractive town centre greenspace.  It extends Poole Park ‘outwards’ and will link well with any future work in the town centre north area, between the bus station and the Lighthouse Centre for the Arts.

The Mulberry tree

It is very regretful that some roots of the Mulberry tree were damaged as part of the works on the new landscaping scheme. High winds in January 2012, coupled with damage to a tension root on the windward side of the tree caused the tree to go over.

Formative pruning has been undertaken and the tree has been propped to prevent any further rotation in high winds and to provide support to the largest branches in to the future. The area around the has been mulched to improve growing conditions.

The tree will be regularly monitored and it is hoped it will remain healthy . The arboriculturalist involved in the props and pruning of the tree is confident that it will continue to survive and remain a prominent feature. However, If at some time in the future the tree becomes unstable or unhealthy a replacement shall be planted in its place.

Rationale and background to the central feature

The central feature uses a design by local artist Rachel Huggett, and includes three ‘ribbons’ of recycled, coloured glass surrounded by Porphyry setts.

The artwork is intended to be relevant to the uniqueness of the character of Poole and represents past and present links to the actual site itself. The public consultations and workshops with schools were designed to build up a picture of impressions and memories of both young and old local people that mingle together to create a piece that can stand on its own in the present tense.

Old timers remembered the Ladies Walking Fields when there were paths running throughout. Inspired by the idea of paths, we then discovered that the area had also been the site of a rope works with their sweeping coils of rope and the long paths trodden by the women working the rope between the two distant ends of the rope-making apparatus. Bringing the theme into the present, the final design represents not only the sweep of the paths and the coils of ropes but also eddies of swirling water in Poole Bay and the movement of water in the Dolphin swimming pool.

Rachel Huggett



Public Consultation

An initial consultation at the Leisure Centre in February 2010 supplied us with information about people's existing use of the space and how they would like to see it developed in the future.

Two concourse design options were then displayed in the building in June 2010, with computer-generated ‘walk-thru’ movies providing a 3D representation of how the space could look in the future.

Rachel Huggett, who was commissioned to create the central feature, sought input from residents through a public art workshop in January 2011.