Braehead Community Park: First Look at Draft Design For Revamp

ckcastleChris Kane is the Chair of both Braehead & Broomridge Community Development Trust and Braehead Community Council.  In 2017, he’ll be publishing a regular series of blogs on what both organisations are doing within our community.  

I’m delighted to be able to share with you the first look at a design which could totally reinvent one of our key community spaces.   The park at Afton Court is looking tired and in need of a revamp and your Community Development Trust has been looking at this for some time now.

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TR157-DraftZones-3We applied for some funding to help us employ a designer and we’ve had some early consultations within the community (there will be many, many more consultations in the months ahead) to test some theories we have.

My kids always ask if they can go to the Kings Park or Beechwood Park; they never ask if they can go to the Afton Court Park.  I want to change that.  I believe every community should have at least one awesome park.  I also believe we all need to move a little bit more.

Given the size of the space at Afton Court, I don’t think the kids should have all the fun to themselves.  That’s why I’m delighted that this design has elements for everybody.

You’ll notice in this design there is a 200m track running around the perimeter.  This will allow mums and dads (and grans and granddads) to get moving while their kids are playing.  Or if you feel so inclined, there are fitness stations along the way; pieces of outdoor gym equipment to help you work on individual muscles.

A good park should give a workout for the mind as well as the body.  So we’ve included a “sculpture and sensory” garden, which I hope will have fun elements for all ages.

The biggest area of the design is labelled “playpark”.  I want this to be the coolest, most awesome, most fun playpark for the kids of Braehead.  But I’ve no idea what that contains – that will be up to the kids to decide.  We’ll work with kids at Braehead Primary School and the local Guides and Scouts to work out what this bit of the design should contain.

There’s also a toddler play area which would have dedicated equipment.  There is a “sports area” with a basketball hoop and a small football net – which will complement the football pitch over the road next to the Crawford Hall.  Around the perimeter there are fruit trees.  My kids always ask if they can go to the shop for a sweet on the way back from the park.  I may be being overly optimistic, but I love the idea of them being able to pick their own snack right from the trees around them.

Stirling Council don’t have the funds to deliver a park on this scale.  But we have a track record of ambitious thinking, backed up with evidence that we can deliver as a community when we work together.  We’ve already raised £250,000 to build Braehead Community Garden.  We’ve raised thousands more since then to enhance the Community Garden with everything from a picnic area to a wetland. We have volunteers who aren’t phased by big thinking because we’ve done it before and we’ll do it again.

At Braehead Community Garden, we’ve begun to redefine our relationship with locally grown food.  At Braehead Community Park we need to continue our journey to better physical and mental health by getting everybody moving more and having fun together.

I’ll be having conversations with potential funders in the coming weeks and months.  I’ll be talking with Stirling Council to figure out exactly how this partnership project will come together.  There will be community conversations where we’ll all have an opportunity to shape this project – from the ambition to the individual elements we want to see in the park when it is finished.

Playpark designers tell me there shouldn’t be fences between toddler play and older kids play areas, because kids will always push themselves to try harder things.  Grown ups could do with remembering how to do that.  Let’s agree to create this together.

The design you see today may change completely as we gather views and ideas.  It may not happen in one go – it may be something we deliver over time.  It may not happen at all if we can’t convince funders to support us.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into this project in the coming months.

If you’d like to help, or have ideas, then look out for community consultation events in the coming months.  Or drop me an email and get involved –

FREE GUIDED HERITAGE TOUR around our community on Sunday 12 March

ckcastleChris Kane is the Chair of both Braehead & Broomridge Community Development Trust and Braehead Community Council.  In 2017, he’ll be publishing a regular series of blogs on what both organisations are doing within our community.  

How much do you know about the history of Braehead and Broomridge?  One of the problems of living near to the Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle is that our city’s national and internationally important heritage can often overshadow the fascinating stories found all around us.  I”m hopefully going to remedy a little of that on Sunday with a free guided history walk around the area.   I’ll be joined by Stirling Council’s Archaeologist Dr Murray Cook to talk about the different elements of our community heritage that make up the Braehead & Broomridge Heritage Trail.

I was part of the team that researched and wrote much of the content for the Stirling Heritage Trails;  a series of eight walking trails around different Stirling communities that you can access at www.stirlingheritagetrails.co.uk

We’ll start by crossing the railway, a feature that has divided our community since it first cut through the landscape in 1848.  We’ll find out how Stirling changed because of the people and the industry that came with the trains.

the Millhall Bing in the early 1950s
the Millhall Bing in the early 1950s

We’ll find out more about the many mineshafts that criscross the ground 160 metres under your feet.   In 1902 Archibald Russell Ltd began to sink shafts into the ground, the first deep mine shafts in the area.  They had a licence to dig on the grounds of “Polmaise and Tochadam Estate”, which is why the mines around here were known as the Polmaise Pits.  Polmaise 1 & 2 opened at Millhall in 1904 and closed in 1958.  The village of Fallin grew up around Polmaise 3 & 4, which didn’t close until 1987. On our tour we’ll see the all that remains of the pit buildings and bing at Millhall.

While the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre is the best place to learn about the events of 1314, walking around Braehead and Broomridge is the place to be to walk the land where the armies of Edward and Bruce clashed.  On 23rd June as the English army approached Bannockburn, there were a few skirmishes at the Borestone before the forces of Edward II made camp for the night.  Their camp is most likely to have been near to what remains of the Millhall bing.  The decisive battle on the 24th June is likely to have taken place either on the land now occupied by the houses of Wallace Park, or on the area now filled by Bannockburn High School and Firs Crescent.  Next time you walk to the Co-Op, just think that 702 years ago you would have been surrounded by clashing swords, thundering horses hooves and men screaming in pain or screaming with adrenaline as they fought for their lives.

We’ll talk about the Balquihidderock Wood, all that remains locally of the great Caledonian Forest that once covered much of the country.  And we’ll talk about farming and the house building that has created the communities of Braehead and Broomridge in the last forty years.

Our walk starts at 11am and should be finished by 1pm-ish.  Meet at Braehead Community Garden.  The walk is free and open to everybody (including children).  If you’ve time at the end, you’ll also be able to have a wander around the Community Garden and see its many facilities.  It would be remiss of me to not mention that memberships are available for 2017!  If its raining on Sunday, Murray and I will give a short talk on the heritage trail in the Community Garden’s Events Polytunnel.

If you can’t make it, you can find out more about the Braehead & Broomridge Heritage Trail and download a leaflet to help you walk it on your own, by clicking on the “heritage section” here on the Braehead & Broomridge website.