Victorian public parks were considered to be the necessary ‘lungs’ of a community, even in a small town like Camberley and there were calls to provide one as early as 1896.
Two years later a local nursery was bought and a pavilion built (healthy outdoor sports were to be encouraged at a time when rickets were still common). The large open space was also used for a wide variety of events like fairs, carnivals and circuses.
A little more land was purchased a year later and children’s play equipment was installed – unfortunately it was quickly vandalised.
In 1923 a plot of land was bought nearer to Southwell Park Road (which was being developed at the time) and this was laid out with tennis courts, a rose garden and a bowling green.
More recently, after the closure of the outdoor ‘Blue Pool’, the council opened the Arena Leisure Centre in 1984, on part of the recreation ground site. It was the first council-owned leisure centre in the country to be run privately and the firm – Crossland Leisure Enterprises – went on to build a large successful national business.