Situated at the end of the High Street, Sandford Park is one of Cheltenham's lesser known treasures. It is well used by many as a pleasant route to work, or for quiet lunch breaks in the sun. The recreational side of the park, across College Road and adjacent to Sandford lido, is popular for picnics and games, and also has a large play area and toilets. The ornamental side of the park is divided into three sections. The main part houses a fountain with seating, landscaped beds, and stunning flower displays in the summer months.
A meandering path leads to the restful cascade pools and the River Chelt. The cascades are a popular training ground for ducklings in the springtime and if you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a local kingfisher! The Annecy Gardens, named after one of Cheltenham's twin towns, are to the north side of the park, and the Italian Gardens, complete with sunken pool and fountains, lie to the west.
The name Sandford is derived from the sandy soil and the old ford over the brook. Sandford is mentioned in the Domesday Book and was the site of Barretts Mill, the largest of the three mills on the banks of the River Chelt. Designed by the landscape architect Milner White, Sandford Park was acquired by the borough council in 1927. Since that date, a number of changes have been made, the most recent being the laying out of the Twinning Gardens. Features in the park include Unwins Fountain, an ornamental pond, rockery and the Friendship Circle. The park is home to a range of bird life and is well known for its squirrels, many of which are quite tame.
Extensive works to rejuvenate the park began during the winter of 2002 and have recently been completed. The park's main water feature has been restored to full working order and overgrown shrub beds have been cleared and replanted with new material selected for its spring interest and autumn colour. As well as enhancing the park aesthetically, this has also increased the security of the park's users and has led to many favourable comments.