One of the main areas of focus throughout the extensive refurbishment of Lakeside has been the restoration of the stunning grounds.
Deliberately designed to resemble gardens rather than the grounds of an industrial facility, the landscaping undertaken during the build of Bestwood Pumping Station had to be approved by the then Duke of St Albans, on whose land the pumping station was built.
The result was an oasis of calm; the cooling pond informally shaped to resemble a lake, cool, quiet woodland areas and steep grassy banks planted with specimen trees where the site is cut into the hillside to the west. Rustic boundary walls surround the site on the north, east and south sides; in the same characterful red brick as the pumping station they, and the wrought iron gates set within them, provide a fitting entrance to the venue as the driveway sweeps round in front of the main building.
A number of features within the grounds have Grade II listed status including the cooling pond, boundary walls and several cast iron gas lamps, which were all part of the original landscaping. As part of the refurbishment these have been retained, restored and sympathetically enhanced where appropriate – the lake has been dredged and had new fountains installed while the gas lamps have been incorporated into a new lighting scheme which highlights the gardens and provides spectacular views come nightfall.
The lake has understandably been a focus of the works and now sparkles in the sunlight as lily pads bob on the surface and the newly stocked koi carp glide beneath. More new additions include 15 turtles, which will live in harmony with other wildlife and give visiting children (young and old) something else to spot!
Around the lake runs a broad path which links with further pathways criss-crossing the mature gardens and native woodland. These have been re-laid and the foliage around them cleared and cut back, to allow visitors to fully explore the extensive 10-acre grounds. The steep banks have been re-grassed providing space to stretch out and take in the landscape while plenty of seating and picnic benches alongside the paths allow more opportunities to sit back and admire the views across the water and mature planting beyond.
Away from the gardens and back to the lake and the new waterside terrace is the perfect place to sit awhile. With the wind gently rustling the trees and the tinkle of water splashing from the fountains, enjoy a coffee or light snack from our outdoor terrace bar – and relax.
September 22nd, 2020