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Eastbourne as a town has a few small ‘Suburbs’ around and within it, and one of them I visit quite frequently. Its residents call it the village, this village is known as Hampden Park.

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Now for a small suburb it does have quite a lot going on, it is said that it is home to the busiest railway station in Europe. It is the busiest station because it is the only way in or out of Eastbourne’s main station in the heart of the town centre, which means every train has to use the station twice although not all trains stop at the station, but they must pass through it. It is the so called busiest station in Europe due to the amount of trains that pass through an hour, it used to be 14 an hour but now after looking at the train time tables I can see that there can be as much as 20 trains an hour meaning that the gates are down more than they are up, with some residents saying the gates are down as much as 48 minutes an hour! Great for train spotters and enthusiasts!

The train line is not the main reason why I visit Hampden Park so much (Although I don’t mind a nice train ride), I like to visit it because of its Park. Ever since I was a child I have been to Hampden Park’s park to play in the playground with other children or to feed the ducks that reside in the large pond. Now to get to the park it is only around an 8-10-minute walk from the train station or you can get a bus from the town centre with the nearest stops being in Decoy Drive and Kings Drive. If you drive, there is ample parking on the road around the park which is a bonus for those with young kids or disabilities.

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The park itself boasts a vast number of things to do. There is of course the kid’s playpark which has the usual suspects of swings, slides, sandpit and climbing frames. It was only recently that they refurbished the park with new equipment. The old equipment was a blast from my past with an old wooden framed slide which I used to play hide and seek under. The old climbing frame with its very plastic and hot slide when the sun was out, which was a shame to see go as it had been there for so long it kind of made the park. But, I’m not a child anymore (Haha) and I don’t get to play on the equipment anymore, but my kids do, and they love it. There is also an Arboretum and history garden located between the playpark and the café. Then there is the café which has been taken over by new management and has been updated to become quite a hot spot for people needing that refreshing tea or coffee or to have and eat scrumptious ice creams. There is a Rugby club and playing field between the café and the local college. And within a small walk there is the David Lloyd Club which houses a gym, and also bowling and laser quest activities.

But, the main attraction there for me and my little family is the pond, also known as Decoy Pond. Around the pond are huge trees and hedges which houses and provides food for much of the wildlife that roams the park. Some of the wildlife can include; Squirrels, Owls, Robins, Jays, Moorhens, Coots, Crows, Swans, Herons, Mallards and even the odd and lesser seen Woodpecker and different types of fish in the pond. In the more forested area there has also been sightings of Foxes, Stoats, Voles, Frogs and types of snake from Slowworms and Grass snakes. But whilst we love all the animals we might spot at the park my children’s favourite animals are the Ducks and the Doves. We are always taking down seed to feed the birds with, and at a small area around the pond near a huge tree is a clearing where the Doves sit and rest but when we arrive it turns into a scene from ‘Mary Poppins’ with ‘Feed the birds and the bird woman’… But instead of it being a bird woman, it is a bird child. My eldest loves feeding them, and she has a calling, like a ‘Doctor Doolittle’, the Doves come down and land on her hands and arms and eat the seeds from her very hands. She loves this and finds it extremely fascinating to see them so up, close and personal (Although don’t worry, I always come prepared with wet wipes and anti-bacterial hand gel, because although the birds look lovely they can also carry those pesky germs). We do this for hours sometimes just wondering the park and feeding the birds, but we also like to climb trees, and around the park are many a good climbing trees as well as a fallen tree which has been there for as long as I can remember which all the kids climb on. One tree, a Scarlet Oak was planted by a Lady Willingdon on the day the park was opened in 1902.

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A Brief History of Hampden Park…

Before 1901 the place we now call Hampden Park was originally part of the Ratton Estate which was owned by Lord Willingdon. The pond which is called ‘Decoy Pond’ was actually once a working decoy which attracted wildfowl for the kitchens of the estate. In the middle of the 19th century the decoy was not maintained and had fallen into disuse. The Eastbourne Corporation brought the land from Lord Willingdon but on a condition that a new road was to be built ‘Kings Drive’, to connect Eastbourne to neighbouring Willingdon.

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The name for Hampden Park came from Lord Willingdon’s grandfather who was called Viscount Hampden. Hampden Park was opened on the 12th August in 1902 by a Lord Rosebery and is said to be the first corporation owned park in the Eastbourne area.

So, if you want a peaceful and playful park to visit with the kids or even just to walk the dog or to have a stroll, then Hampden Park is a great place to venture out to or if you want to see as many trains as you can in an hour then again, Hampden Park is the place for you.

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