MEMORY LANE AT COATE WATER
This is the 'unofficial' site about Coate Water Country Park! This site was created as a means to share information, memories and thoughts about one of the best places to be in Swindon.
Ancient stones from the neolithic stone circle at Coate just East of the Country Park. Photo by M Wheaver

The land to the East of Coate Water (Coate) provides a glimpse into the distant past of the area as a few remaining stones from an ancient stone circle, similar to that of Avebury, lay scattered in a field. Little is known about the circle but it is a clear indication of the historical importance of the site.

So beautiful is the area around Coate that it has officially been recognised as an 'Area of Outstanding Beauty' providing the perfect setting for one of Wiltshires most natural parks.

Events at Coate

Coate Water itself was made in the early 1820's as a resevoir by the Wilts and Berks canal Company. It was fed by a small stream known as the Dorcan. The cottage that once sat beside the stream (originally owned by a local Potter) is now found in the main Car Park and is used by the Swindon Borough Council as an Activity Centre by the Ranger Service. Photo M Wheaver
Activities at Coate
The land around the park has changed little since the early 1800's from the landscape that influenced countryside and wildlife author Richard Jefferies. Indeed, many of the landmarks so carefully described in his books can still be seen today. Richard Jefferies work is known to have inspired many authors with his meticulous descriptions of the world he saw around him including A. Fowles, author of 'The French Leuitenants Woman'. The house where Richard Jefferies spent most of his early years is now owned by Swindon Borough Council and, as part of our local heritage, is maintained as a public museum in honour of his work and contribution to English Literature.
Richard Jefferies 'Council Oak' where he is known to have spent many hours enjoying the countryside of Coate. The tee was damaged by storms but still remains overlooking the main lake of Coate Water
Photos from Coate
Memory Lane YOUR Memories
You can download a FREE ebook version of 'The story of my heart' by Richard Jefferies HERE
As the use of canals declined in the shadow of the new railways that moved into Swindon, the resevoir was sold to Swindon Corporation for leisure use by the people in the early 1900's along with the adjacent land which now forms Coate Water Country Park. In the early 1920's the park became a favourite with locals for leisure and sports. It was a welcome refuge for the many new workers that had been brought to the town by the new railways.
Originally, the main entrance to the park was at the bottom of Marlborough Road through a set of large ornumental iron gates on a small private road. Visitors to the park were charged an entrance fee and a variety of small wooden buildings around the lake provided boating and changing facilities. A wooden diving platform was built in 1921 and there was wooden staging separating the swimming and diving areas of the lake. Later a full size swimming pool and a childrens paddling pool were added although today the swimming pool has been filled in and changed to a childrens paddling pool and the original paddling pool has been filled with sand and turned into a play area for children.
The original wooden diving platform used when the park opened for diving and swimming in 1921
(photo: A Jessel)
 
The diving board as it was when it was built in 1935 (photo:A.Jessel)

The diving board in 2004 at Coate Water

By 1935, the 'Art Deco' Diving board provided a nationally renowned platform for diving competitions and the lake was also regularly used for regattas and water polo.

Although swimming in the lake was stopped due to public health and safety concerns in 1958, the diving board can still be seen today and has become a local landmark associated with the park and its history.

Public boating continued on the lake until the mid 1990's but boating on the lake is now limited to private boating clubs and organisations. Charitable and public events, including inter-club regattas, dragon boat racing and lanterns on the lake still remain very popular attractions throughout the year on the Lake at Coate.
In the 1970's a flood storage lagoon was added to the park which, with careful management was soon after designated as Wiltshires first Local Nature Reserve (LNR). Most of the site and all of the water have now been declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) offering official recognition and protection of what has become a valuable natural resource.
More recently, an arboretum (also known as 'the tree collection') has been established and nurtured and provides a particularly spectacular display each Autumn.

The collection features trees from all around the world and contains many specimens donated by families in memory of their loved ones.

Voted the people of Swindons favourite place in 2003, Coate Water continues to inspire authors, artists and poets alike.

'Being Kind to George' by Jo Dunningham was first published in 2003 and is a true story about a very popular and well loved character that briefly made his home at Coate Water. 'Where Have All The Flowers Gone?' and 'Where Has All The Frogspawn Gone?' were both inspired by the natural habitats in Coate Water and were aimed to help children understand why the wildlife and the countryside around us should be cared for.

These children's books can be purchased from Amazon.co.uk (simply do a search for the author's name, ie: Dunningham), or direct from the authors bookshop at her website. A donation from every sale is given to South West Swan Sanctuary (Swindon).

Coate Water has touched the lives and hearts of many people, young and old alike. There is a strong community spirit amongst its regular visitors as it provides a relaxed and friendly meeting place for all. The park has become an important community resource providing an natural oasis for local people to escape from the day to day pressures of modern living. This in turn becomes so important to them as individuals that no matter where life takes them, they carry the spirit of Coate in their hearts forever, often returning from far and wide whenever the opportunity allows them to indulge in what has become some of their fondest memories.

To view other poems, stories or anecdotes from visitors to the park, click HERE.

Coate Water is situated on Marlborough Road Swindon. From the M4 take exit 15 and follow the signs for Swindon town centre along the A419 then A4259 until you see the sign for Coate Water Country Park. Location Map for Coate Water can be found HERE

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT COATE WATER: You may like to browse these 'official' or other informative sites;

19th Century Coate by the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust

Swindon Web on Coate

Swindon Council website re Coate Water

Diving at Coate Water

Swindon Web on Richard Jefferies

The Megalithic Portal - Information on the Coate Stone Circle

The Modern Antiquarian - Information on the Coate Stone Circle

 

If you find a problem with this website, or you have material you would like to add to this site for others to share, please contact us HERE.

For details concerning economical but friendly WEB DESIGN service, click HERE

Please note that all images and material on this site are copyright protected and may not be published or reproduced in any format without the direct permission of the site owner. To obtain permission please write to us HERE