Friends of Watermans Park
Annual General Meeting
7 June 2023 at 7pm
To be held at Studio Flox, Ground Floor, Watermans Park Office Building, 40a High Street, Brentford, TW8 0BB. Access from Watermans Arts Centre car park and Smith Hill.
To consider and if thought fit to pass the following resolutions:
- TO approve the minutes of the 2022 AGM (see ANNEX I)
- TO receive, consider and adopt the Chair & Treasurer's statement for the year ended 31 March 2023 (see ANNEX II)
- TO reappoint Jane Dickinson as a committee member from the conclusion of the meeting
- TO reappoint Sara Novakovic as a committee member from the conclusion of the meeting
- TO appoint Angie Loader as a committee member from the conclusion of the meeting
There will also be an opportunity to raise any other questions at the meeting.
If a member is unable to attend the meeting on 7 June they may vote on the resolutions here up until 12pm on 6 June.
Immediately following the formal business of the AGM, Janet McNamara will be giving a talk about Brentford inspired by Samuel Leigh’s wonderful 1829 “Panorama of the Thames”. Janet is a Local Historian, Heritage Guide and a Friend.
Minutes of the 2nd Annual General Meeting on 29 June 2022 held at Studio Flox at 7pm and by videoconference.
The Chair noted that notice for the meeting had been circulated on 1 June 2022 and an agenda and papers on 20 June 2022. 8 members joined the meeting in person and by videoconference and a further 4 members had provided their votes on the resolutions to the Chair. The meeting was declared quorate.
- The minutes of the 2021 AGM were approved.
- The Chair and Treasurer’s Statement for the year ended 31 March 2022 was approved.
- The introduction of an annual members subscription of £10 for the year to 31 March 2023 was approved.
- Philip Jones was unanimously re-elected as Chair & Treasurer from the conclusion of the meeting by those present and who had provided their votes to the Chair.
- Kal Watrobski was unanimously re-elected as Secretary from the conclusion of the meeting by those present and who had provided their votes to the Chair.
- There was no other business to be recorded in the minutes.
Chair, Friends of Watermans Park
29 June 2022
Chair & Treasurer’s statement for the year ending 31 March 2023
The principal purpose of the Friends Group set out in its constitution is to help protect, conserve and enhance Watermans Park, its environs and access to the River Thames for the enjoyment of local residents and visitors.
The local residents who have formed the Friends Group envisage a vibrant community amenity which can host community events as well as an attractive recreational area by the River Thames for all to enjoy.
This statement is a summary of Friends activities for the year ending 31 March 2023 and plans for the current year.
Landscaping in the park
The year started with much of the park reopening at the end of March 2022 after re-landscaping over the previous winter. Many more people are now visiting the park and using the new facilities and enjoying the wonderful wildflowers. The children’s play area has proved to be especially popular.
There are, however, some key features of the masterplan still to be completed: the timber walkway has now been restored but not yet open to the public because of its proximity to imminent works in the river to build the moorings, the drinking fountain by the exercise area is not yet connected to the water supply, nor is there a watering point at the east of the park to support a community garden, damage caused by the moorings contractors at the eastern entrance has still to be rectified, a book depository is still to be installed. There is therefore still much for the Friends to do to ensure the transformation of the park is completed as promised. We continue to press the Council’s parks team about these and other matters. Our last stakeholder meeting was in April 2023.
Music in the park
We really want to encourage people to come to the park and on weekend afternoons in July and September 2022 organised 4 open mics hosted by Edwin Addis of the Hounslow Musicians Network. This was made possible by a grant of £1,000 from the Thriving Communities Fund. Kal Watrobski made an awning for the performance space to protect performers and equipment from strong sunlight and wet weather. Approximately 40+ people enjoyed some fine music and poetry at each open mic.
The Friends now have a grant of £1,000 and approval from the Council to hold more events this summer. The first Summer Bandstand of 2023 will be on Saturday 10 June 2023 at 4pm featuring musicians from UWL’s London College of Music. There will be more events on each Saturday afternoon in July. We are very pleased that the Speak Out in Hounslow Choir will feature on 1 July.
Bulb planting & bird boxes
Many thanks to Lena Sandhu, Parks Project Officer, for organising daffodil bulb planting by students of Green Dragon and St Paul’s primary schools on a happy afternoon in November 2022. On the same day, bird boxes painted with designs by Green Dragon students were installed in trees. The display this spring flowers on the raised bank by the performance area was wonderful and at least one bird box has attracted a pair of blue tits.
The Municipal Public Gardens Association and Suttons also donated about 400 mixed spring bulbs which the Friends planted at the eastern end of the park just before the end of December.
The park occupies the site of what was once part of the Brentford Gas Works with the foreshore used for delivery of coal by barges. And after the gas works were demolished it became useful as an area where boats could exploit the public right of navigation yet be left without interfering with regular traffic on the river. A residential floating community developed from the 1970’s, interspersed with non-residential wrecks.
A sense of place is important and in February and March 2023 the Friends were pleased to organise a couple of talks which proved to be very popular to explore the history of the gas works and some of the wrecks once moored at Watermans. Our sincere thanks to David Shailes, a Local Historian, and Hilary Pereira, Chair of the River Thames Society Upper Tideway Branch and a Friend, who researched and gave the talks. You can find David’s slides of his talk about the Gas Works on the Friends website, Hilary’s on the “wrecks” will soon be posted there.
Immediately following the formal business of this year’s AGM, Janet McNamara will be giving a talk about Brentford inspired by Samuel Leigh’s wonderful 1829 “Panorama of the Thames”. Janet is a Local Historian, Heritage Guide and a Friend.
We will soon start to see interpretation boards that form a Heritage Trail between Kew Bridge and Brentford Bridge in Brentford. The Heritage Trail was proposed by Jim Storrar of Brentford Voice, and now a Friend, with the support of the Local History Society. The first information boards will be in Brentford’s Market Place and at Ferry Quays, hopefully in June 2023. The two boards proposed for the park will probably be in place by the autumn. One of the boards will feature the gas works and may be a suitable place for some of the cast iron caps with the motif 'GLCC BD 1930' (Gas Light & Coke Co.) which were once on wooden pilings in the river and now saved for display in the park. The second board will highlight the river, the Ait and wildlife.
Rob Petrow’s landscaping masterplan included space for a community garden at the eastern end of the park.
We envisage a garden that is accessible for all – with raised beds, suitable paths, seating, shade, a place to enjoy sensory planting and encourage a sense of wellbeing. It should be sustainable. Given the history of the site all planting will be in raised beds / tubs and provision for water will be important.
We hope there will be strong interest from local primary schools to adopt some beds and the support of Friends and the wider community will be important to help develop and maintain the garden. Angie Loader has agreed to help lead this project. There is a resolution to appoint Angie as a committee member.
Strong support for the garden will be important before seeking funding and proceeding. We will organise a consultation over the next few months.
Here is Rob’s concept design based on our brief:
We fully supported the nomination of the park for a Green Flag award by the Parks Team and contributed to the Management Plan. The onsite judging took place on 17 May and we should know the result in July. Fingers crossed.
Phase I of moorings development progresses at a slow pace and we continue to monitor its impact on the park.
It was upsetting when, at the end of 2022, pontoons were brought into the park (rather than by river) causing damage to the cycle track entrance, a wildflower bed, fencing and a tree. We are assured that the area will be reinstated but this is mostly still outstanding as I write. And we are told that once the river works have soon moved beyond the timber walkway it can potentially be re-opened for public access. There will also be some new benches installed on the path by the timber walkway. As the works move upstream it may be necessary to fence off parts of the footpath.
The developer only received a licence from the Marine Management Organisation on 24 May 2023 to carry out demolition works to remove the concrete structures in the river and its Marine Licence expires on 15 June 2023 so may need to be extended. There are also some Local Planning Authority planning consent conditions that still need to be satisfied.
Friends Group finances
An annual membership subscription of £10 was introduced for 2022/23 and there are 23 members who have paid the subscription. Subscription notices for 2023/24 will soon be sent to members.
A grant of £1,000 was received from the Thriving Communities Fund to put on 4 open mics in the park, the costs incurred were £1,170. The other principal cost was public liability insurance of £129. After the costs have been reimbursed cash balances will be £103.
Hounslow Parks Team
The Friends thank Gaye Galvin (Head of Parks Development and Green Infrastructure) and Lena Sandhu (Parks Project Officer) for their support and Greenspace 360 for looking after the park.
Friends Group Committee
The other members of the Friends Group Committee are Kal Watrobski (Secretary), Jane Dickinson and Sara Novakovic. Special thanks to Kal who has made her Studio Flox available for Friends events and organising music in the park. The Committee has also had strong support from Hilary Pereira during the year.
At this AGM, Jane and Sara will seek re-election and Angie will seek election on 7 June 2023.
Chair, Friends of Watermans Park
29 May 2023