Hirst Park, Ashington | A Playground, Splash Park & More

 This is an advertisement for July 2021. Any edits / shares after this date have not been asked or paid for. All words and thoughts are my own. 

Hirst Park in Ashington, Northumberland was first built in 1915 for local mining families to use as a recreation area. The park and area has a strong connection with miners, football and families and Jackie and Bobby Charlton played on the fields as young lads. Jackie Milburn is another famous face from the area. 

During my research and visits to Hirst Park, the overwhelming feeling I am left with is that the park is very community-minded and a place locals (and beyond) have enjoyed for many years. It is a lovely space in the heart of the town with fantastic facilities and with recent investment, is a place the community can continue to enjoy for years to come. 

The restoration of Hirst Park, and ongoing activities in the park until 2023, have been made possible by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The National Lottery Community Fund, Northumberland County Council, Ashington Leisure Partnership and Ashington Town Council. The investment totals £2.29 million.  

You can definitely see where this funding has been utilised. The park has been updated and refreshed and I have to say, it is brilliant. I will chat more about the investment later in this post. 

Hirst Park | Location

Hirst Park is in the centre of Ashington Town. It is fairly well signposted (follow the brown 'Hirst Park' signs) and we managed to find it without any trouble. 

There are two free car parks (with disabled spaces) on site. We used postcode NE63 9BB , followed the Hirst Park Parking Signs and accessed via Fourth Avenue. Locals have mentioned to me that Fifth Avenue is a better entrance to use so maybe opt for that route instead. 

Alternative parking is available in the town and Ashington is served regularly by buses / is easy to get to via public transport. The park even has its own 'Hirst Park' bus stop. 

If you wish to alight at Ashington Bus Station, the park (via the Third Avenue entrance) is a 10 minute walk through the town. 

The park is very easy to navigate with good signage and maps readily available. With it being in the town centre, it is fairly compact so it would be difficult to get lost I think. The main paths are wide, surfaced and suitable for wheelchairs / pushchairs. Dogs are welcome in the park (excluding the play areas which are secure/fenced area). 

Hirst Park | Revival Project & Investment 

Thanks to the funding mentioned earlier in this post, the park has received significant investment over the past few years and work is still ongoing with extra plans still in the process of being brought to life. 

I have to say, everything in the park feels really clean, in excellent condition and is very well looked after. There are visible park wardens collecting litter and keeping an eye on things and the whole space feels loved. 

Recent improvements (thanks to funding) to Hirst Park include: 
  • Planting of new trees, shrubs, flowers and plants throughout the park 
  • A new children's playground and splash park 
  • A new performance site 
  • A new formal garden 
  • A new horticultural community and training area to be used in conjunction with Northumberland College 
  • A new community allotment 
  • Repairs to gates and fences 
  • Improvements to paths, tennis courts and sports courts 

Hirst Park | Playground

The playground at Hirst Park is an moderately sized enclosed space with four distinct areas - toddler, mid-range, teen and splash park. 

There are picnic tables and grassed areas should you wish to bring a blanket and spend a few hours here. 

Like I say, all of the park equipment was in excellent condition and on the day of our visit, was being enjoyed by children of all ages. I would say Hirst Park is a good all-rounder to visit with children of mixed ages and abilities. There were some sensory areas but I did not see any equipment suitable for wheelchair users. 

Harry, Dee and Jack really enjoyed the equipment here and have asked to return. Their favourite pieces were the basket swing, see saw and roundabout. As the park includes a water play area, some of the equipment may get a little wet so if this is a problem for you, make sure you bring a towel. 

Hirst Park | Splash Park 

At one end of the playground you will find a brand new splash park. It shares the same space as the playground and unlike Ridley Park, is part of the same enclosed space so it feels easier to keep an eye on little ones. 

The water features are switched on at around 11am and will be available daily throughout the summer. You do not need to book, simply turn up and enjoy. We arrived at around 5pm and the water had been switched off, I assume it must be available until 3/4pm. 

Even with the water not switched on in the evening, the kids still had fun splashing about and the whole area is fab with sprinkler systems, buttons to jump on which makes water shoot out, dams to build and operate, a water play table and more..... 

I am obviously not an expert but I think this splash park could be enjoyed by wheelchair users (if you don't mind getting your wheelchair a little wet). 

Credit | Southern Green 

This is such a brilliant addition to the park and I know it will be enjoyed by many children and families across summer and beyond. Just look at Dee and Jack's faces. They are so happy! 

Hirst Park | Sports Courts & Playing Fields

I love that Hirst Park has several nods to the park's history and as you walk around, you can read about the famous footballers who played here as you watch the next generation play on the field. 

Hirst Park is home to 2 competition-standard bowling greens (four local bowling clubs play here), 2 multi-use games areas,  2 tennis courts and a football pitch with changing rooms. It was great to see some teens enjoying a game of basketball as we walked past. 

As far as I can see, you just 'drop in' to use the multi-sports courts, football pitches and tennis courts here but if you have any enquiries about the sports courts, pop into the Pavillion and ask the park keeper. 

Hirst Park | Walks & Gardens 

Hirst Park isn't somewhere you would visit for a hike, it is more somewhere you would pop into for a leisurely stroll. There are surfaced paths (suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs) around the park and lots of seating where you can rest and enjoy the surroundings. 

I loved the variety of planting - I think there are over 200 trees here and there is a nice variety of seasonal colour and flowers too. 

There is a formal rose garden near the bowling green which was filled with the most beautiful scent. There are seats in this area too and it is a lovely space to relax and enjoy nature. As you hear the bees buzzing around you, feel the warmth of the sun and literally, smell the roses, this area really is a treat for the senses. 

Again, the gardens are very well cared for and a joy to walk around. Such a lovely space! The park is known locally as 'The Flower Park' and I can see why. 

The history of the park is super important to the local area and there are reminders of the area's past around the park. I know there are plans to work with local artists and create pieces which celebrate the town's links to mining, football and sport. 

Hirst Park | Facilities 

Hirst Park is open from 8:30am - dusk, seven days per week. The pavillion in the heart of the park is open when the park keeper is on site and here you will find an activities hub, toilets and information about the park and events. 

If the pavillion is closed, there are public toilets in Ashington 0.3 miles from the park along Fifth Avenue. 

There is no cafe on site but there are plenty of takeaway options within easy reach in Ashington Town or of course, you can bring a picnic. Various seating and tables are available throughout the park. 

Hirst Park includes a community garden as part of the Full Circle Food Project. This area is a growing zone and used by Northumberland College Students to gain practical experience as well as hosting regular events and free classes for the public (see here for information). 

Recent activities here include a plant sale and seed swap, free soup Tuesdays, a community larder, willow weaving, beginner cookery lessons, gardening classes and more. What a fantastic community-minded space! 

Hirst Park | Events & Activities 

As if the fantastic playground, sports pitches, splash park and gardens were not enough, Hirst Park also organises an absolutely fantastic selection of activities across the year. This summer, activities will be based in the pavillion (which will follow COVID guidelines with lots of ventilation etc....).

Activities are FREE, open to all and there is no need to book - simply drop in. 

Obviously, it is a difficult time for event organisers at the moment and details can change so it is super important to check for up-to-date information with the organisers before making plans. 

I recommend joining the 'Friends of Hirst Park' Facebook group which is used as a community noticeboard for the park and shares the most up to date information. 

Summer event highlights include: 

  • Saturday 24 July - Nature Detectives 11am-1pm 
  • Sunday 25 July - Mental Health Coffee Morning 10am-12noon 
  • Monday 26 July - Summer Scrap Book Making 10am-2pm 
  • Tuesday 27 July - Health Walk & Coffee 12:30pm 
  • Thursday 29 July - Make a Super Hero 10am - 1pm 

  • Saturday 31 July - Nature Detectives 11am-1pm
  • Monday 2 August - Story Time & Paper Flower Making 10am - 2pm 
  • Tuesday 3 August - Health Walk & Coffee 12noon 
  • Thursday 5 August - Make a Super Hero 10am - 1pm 

  • Saturday 7 August - Nature Detectives 11am - 1pm 
  • Sunday 8 August - Mental Health Coffee Morning 10am - 12noon 
  • Monday 9 August - Pasta Art 10am - 1pm 
  • Tuesday 10 August - Health Walk and Coffee 12noon 
  • Thursday 12 August - Make a Super Hero 10am - 1pm 

  • Saturday 14 August.- Nature Detectives 11am-1pm 
  • Monday 16 August - Heritage Crafts 10am-2pm 
  • Tuesday 17 August - Health Walk & Coffee 12noon 
  • Thursday 19 August - Make a Super Hero 10am - 1pm 

  • Saturday 21 August - Football Festival (all day) 
  • Sunday 22 August - Music in the Park 10am - 3pm 
  • Monday 23 August - Story Time & Rock Painting 10am - 2pm
  • Tuesday 24 August - Health Walk & Coffee 12noon
  • Thursday 26 August - Create a Super Hero 

  • Saturday 29 August - Mental Health Coffee Morning 10am - 12noon 
  • Monday 30 August - T-shirt Doodles 10am - 2pm 
  • Tuesday 31 August - Health Walk and Coffee 12noon 
  • Thursday 2 September - Create a Superhero Display and Coffee 10am 

Wow! What a fantastic events programme. I feel lucky to have access to this and I know lots of families will really appreciate these offerings too. 

Additionally, Summer Activity Packs will be available to collect from the Hirst Park Pavillion across the summer holidays. Simply pop in. These are FREE and include colouring pages, mazes, a word search, summer challenge and more. Perfect if you need some down time in the park or wish to extend your visit to home. 

Hirst Park is less than 10 miles from our home in Ashington and even closer to our family caravan in Cresswell. I cannot believe this was our first visit! I know we will be back this summer and intend to make full use of the free events, splash park, playground and more. I am so pleased we discovered the park as it is a real gem and I hope this post encourages more of us to visit and enjoy the fantastic facilities and upgraded equipment on offer. 


1 comment

  1. Oh wow! I love what they have done with the park. It looks like they have made so many improvements over the couple of years since we left Ashington. This used to be our local park. The splash park looks fab! My girls would have loved it. x


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