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Canoe Lake Gardens

Canoe Lake Gardens:

A Stroll Through History





Nestled in the heart of Southsea, Canoe Lake Gardens is a verdant retreat with a rich history that dates back to the Victorian era. Today, it stands as a testament to the city’s past and a beloved spot for both locals and visitors.


The Origins Canoe Lake Gardens began its life as part of the Great Morass, a vast area of marshland that was largely unusable. In 1884, efforts began to transform a section of this marsh into an ornamental lake, a project that would take two years to complete. The vision was to create a space for leisure and recreation, a common theme of the Victorian period, which saw the establishment of many public parks and gardens.


The Transformation On 17th June 1886, the Mayor of Portsmouth, A.S. Blake, Esq., officially opened Canoe Lake to the public. The lake was initially used for sailing model yachts but quickly became a popular spot for canoeing and boating. The transformation of the area was part of a broader movement to provide healthy recreational spaces for the urban population.


Lumps Fort and the Rose Gardens Adjacent to Canoe Lake are the remains of Lumps Fort, which was constructed between 1859 and 1869 as part of Portsmouth’s defences. After falling into disuse following World War I, the fort was purchased by Portsmouth Corporation in 1932 and now houses the beautiful Southsea Rose Gardens. These gardens offer a tranquil setting and a splash of colour with their extensive floral displays.


A Swan’s Nursery Canoe Lake is known as a swan’s nursery due to it being one of the chosen sites in the Solent for mute swans. During the winter, it’s not uncommon to see a large congregation of juvenile swans seeking comfort and security in the lake’s waters.


Today’s Attractions Beyond its historical significance, Canoe Lake remains a hub of activity. With its children’s play area, pedal boats for hire, and the Model Village, there’s something for everyone. The lake is still filled with seawater, topped up at high tide, making it an excellent spot for crabbing and observing marine life.


Conclusion Canoe Lake Gardens is more than just a park; it’s a piece of Portsmouth’s history. From its marshy beginnings to its current status as a community treasure, Canoe Lake continues to be a place where history and leisure intertwine.

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