Swanley park wardens leave after more than 30 years

PUBLISHED: 15:59 04 November 2015 | UPDATED: 15:59 04 November 2015

Park wardens Ann and Mike

Park wardens Ann and Mike


Mike and Ann Weston first became park wardens in the 1980s

Two long-serving park wardens have decided to say goodbye to their jobs after more than 30 years.

Mike, 58 and Ann Weston, 57 decided to call it a day after looking after Swanley Park for 31 years.

The site, formerly known as New Barn Park, is found between Swanley and Hextable.

Mr Weston said: “We were there right from the start and we’ve had the chance to watch it grow.

“When other parks were running down and getting quieter, the council decided to have a man made lake and later put in the railway, so it really was quite a big deal at the time.”

“When we started out we’d have a handful of people across the park on the weekends, now on a busy day we can get thousands.”

In the 1980s, the Swanley Town Council decided to turn former farm land into a park.

Mr and Mrs Weston then joined the park in 1984, and have lived on site since, raising their children in the popular location.

In the past the park has hosted day-long music festivals as well as its annual fireworks night. Speaking of the pressure of the role, Mr Weston said: “It’s been a 24/7 job, if we ever went on holiday it would be in the back of our minds.

“We’d be away on holiday and have phone calls saying something had gone wrong, we’ve had our issues over the years.

The council-owned land has faced difficulties in the past and earlier this year it was closed following travellers setting up in the park.

Speaking on the issues Mr Weston said: “We’ve had cars dumped in the lake on more than one occasion, the police had to call in the diving squad.” “Most parks would pack up after issues, but we’ve sorted out any problems and moved forward.”

“For that we’d like to thank Swanley council, they’ve been a huge help as well as all the staff and volunteers at the park.”

Mrs Weston will now join her husband in his hobby-come-business, designing and racing radio controlled yachts.

On Sunday, the Westons said goodbye on what they called a “quiet and emotional day” as the park was draped in fog.

The couple moved out of their house in the park on Monday, and now live on the High Firs estate.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Gravesend Reporter. Click the link in the yellow box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad. Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our community has ever faced, but if we all play our part we will defeat it. We're here to serve as your advocate and trusted source of local information.

In these testing times, your support is more important than ever. Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Gravesend Reporter