King George V Park

King George V Park


Posted 2012-10-10 by Lindsay Lawfollow
This is another hidden gem of a park in Edinburgh's New Town. Much like Barony Street Garden , it's tucked away so you almost wouldn't realise it was there.

However, it's become a surprisingly busy little hub on Edinburgh's cycle network since the reopening of the tunnel which connects the park to the Water of Leith Walkway cycle paths.

[ADVERT]The park is full of hidden little treasures, including a fascinating history dating back to the 19th century, when it was known as the Royal Patent Gymnasium at the Royal Crescent Park. It was opened in 1865, and it sounds amazing. It had a giant see-saw for 200 people, a rotary boat called The Great Sea Serpent, and The Patent Velocipede Paddle Merry-Go-Round. I don't think I ever would have left this park. That was in the summer. In the winter, as if people couldn't be satisfied by the summer's activities of a Patent Self-Adjusting Trapeze, a Compound Pendulum Swing, and the Prince Alfred Wreck Escape, the frozen pond was lit up with coloured lights, and bands serenaded skaters.

Don't believe me? Here's the evidence from an information board inside the Park.

Sadly, the Royal Patent Gymnasium no longer remains. It was built out of timber, and successive winters caused it to degrade until it fell into disrepair and was dismantled to make way, not a park yet. First came St. Bernard's Football Stadium.

St. Bernard's Football Team took their name from St. Bernard's Well in Stockbridge. Their early years were very successful, and in 1932 27,000 people watched them beat Hibernian. Sadly, the advent of war disrupted games and their last match was played in 1942. The stands were finally dismantled in 1947. The only remaining evidence of their presence here is a gate in Royal Crescent, which used to lead down to the stands but is now the back way into a local office building's car park.

The Park went through a few more iterations until it reached today. It has fallen in and out of disrepair and is only in its current condition thanks to the work of the Friends of King George V and Scotland Yard Parks. And they have worked hard to make sure it is a pleasant and beautiful space for locals to use.

The Park has three distinct sections.

First is the grass, paths and seats of the Western end. This end is popular with dog walkers, and office workers eating their lunch. In the spring, the cherry blossom trees rain down a beautiful dark pink snow. In the summer, people bring barbecues and play rounders on the grass while sausages and burgers sizzle on the charcoal.

At the edge of the Eyre Place side of the Park there is a play park that's suitable for younger children. It's gated so that the little ones will be safe from dogs, and has a good selection of equipment.

There are some interesting extras on the apparatus that appeal to children, including binoculars on the climbing frame. My two girls used to pretend that they were pirates, and the younger one still hasn't quite grown out of this game.

There are two kinds of swings, so while you push the little one, the older one can get on with things themselves. There's also a climbing frame that looks boring to me, as an adult, but always has kids scrambling all over it.

The final part of the park, before the tunnel that leads out into the cycle network, is the older children's play park. It's been reworked a few times since we've been going, but the slide has always stayed the same. Which is good, because the slide is a much-loved feature among all the local children we know.

As well as the slide, there are more swings, a climbing frame that's also a roundabout, and a balance beam. Over by the old Scotland St. tunnel, where the train used to screech down from Princes St. there are some new additions of a basketball court and a clever, concrete table tennis table. There's also a shelter to sit in and eat sandwiches when it's raining. If you're feeling brave you can go right up close to the tunnel and peer in. It is awfully spooky.

And then, finally, when you're finished in the park, you can walk through the refurbished Rodney St. tunnel to nearby Tescos and get a drink after all that hard work running, sliding, and playing. It might not have a Patent Compound Pendulum Swing any more, but you can still have a lot of fun.

71754 - 2023-01-26 01:55:36


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