The late and great Richard M Nixon often spouted the etymological fallacy that the Mandarin word for crisis was interchangeable with the word for opportunity.
One of my first trips out after the council elections in May 2014 was being shown around Jersey Gardens by one of its Friends. Tales of some neglect, past failed ambitions and thieving of the ornate. Crisis? Perhaps, for some but never insurmountable.
Another alert at that time was from Councillor Theo Dennison, the council’s cabinet member for finance and other things, announcing that bids were being sought for the large pot of S106 developer planning contributions in the council’s account. Opportunity? For sure.
From my eighteen bids made on behalf Osterley & Spring Grove Ward and other parts of Isleworth in November 2014, one made it on to the May 2015 cabinet report. Theo saw the merit and £76,600 was allocated for, “Improvements, restorations and repairs to boundaries at Jersey Gardens. Sustained practical support for Friends of Jersey Gardens and other groups interested in its improvements.” Met with a little scepticism, it took a couple of emails to convince the FOJG Chairman that the cash was real before he was prepared to pow wow.
Stolen gate on St Mary’s Crescent to be securely replaced
We met on site before Christmas with Gaye from the council’s parks team, Jim and Unsa from parks contractor Carillion and John Love from Thistleworth Tennis Club, the latter to see whether there was scope to combine some joint fence works. Notes from that meeting can be found here.
Reconvening at Osterley Library in February 2016, Carillion came back with a scheme for this phase of works which was agreed by the Friends and includes:
Wood Lane to Ridgeway Road North fencing to be replaced
- Replacement and renovation of the most deteriorated pathways within Jersey Gardens and a cleaner and flatter ramp up to the playground area
- Refurbishment of unused original gates currently facing Great West Road securely relocated to St Mary’s Crescent and the Ridgeway Road North access New double gates by the tennis court
- Improved access points to the play area
- Replacement and repair to low fencing along the Ridgeway Road North footpath and along the footpath towards Wood Lane.
These works are due to start later this month, March 2016 and other Friends and residents have also been advised via the latest newsletter which can be found here.
Jersey Gardens south eastern view with Osterley Hotel on skyline, 1932 photo courtesy of Hounslow Libraries Local Studies Section
There is certainly plenty more to do to realise the long standing ambitions to restore Jersey Gardens, a unique and beautiful by product of the construction of the Great West Road in the 1920s.
Following a call for the next round of S106 bids, a request for funding of a potential second phase was made in January 2016 for,
- Footpath illumination from Wood Lane to Ridgeway Road North
- Improvement of paving to the playground
- Horticulture and landscape apprentice project in conjunction with LBH Skills and Employment Team, Carillion, Hounslow Highways, National Trust, Capel Manor College and others to restore the Sunken Garden.
The outcome of this and another 16 bids (see my responses for both calls for bids here) will be shared when known later in the Spring 2016. Should there be similar success in securing funds, I shall continue to work with the Friends and others help progress further works in Jersey Gardens.
As always, happy to discuss but in the meantime, if not already a supporter, please make contact with the Friends of Jersey Gardens either by e mail to its Chairman, firstname.lastname@example.org or leave letters c/o Friends of Jersey Gardens at Osterley Library, St Mary’s Crescent, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 4NB.