The Mayor of Cheltenham, Mr. John Howell, formally opened Hatherley Park Recreation Ground on Saturday 29th April 1939. The ceremony was preformed in front of a large invited audience at the entrance to the pavilion.
The Chairman of the Parks and Recreation Grounds Committee, Mr. J Green congratulated the Borough Surveyor, Mr. G. Marshland and the Parks Superintendent, Mr. D. Leachers who were responsible for laying out the park and rockeries. The Mayor hoped that this would not be the last of Cheltenham’s 200 areas of parks and gardens. The Committee, he added, had made a “daring experiment” in establishing a recreation ground and playing field for children as well as a park “beautifully laid out” for adults. It was a question of whether children would destroy that beauty, and was up to parents to teach their children to make the best advantage of it. He also warned that elderly people might like to use the park for relaxation and rest and would be annoyed by the noise of children. The Committee hoped “that eventually they might enjoy hearing the children’s voices.” The M.P. for Cheltenham, Mr. Daniel Lipson also thanked all those who had worked so hard to create this much needed amenity for the Tivoli area “. Tea was later served in a marquee following a tour of the grounds.Five years earlier, when the Hatherley Court Estate was sold, Cheltenham Borough Council had purchased, for £2,750, nine acres of land for the new recreation ground and the construction of Hatherley Court Road. The final cost of making up the road, adding railings and gates and improving the ground was £4,210.
Unemployed men had been recruited to work on what was a furrowed field on the estate. It took eighteen months to reshape and dredge the pond, level the playing field and carry out the planting. Cumberland stone had been used for the construction of the miniature waterfall, streams and rock garden. An avenue of trees was planted alongside the main path through the park and extensive herbaceous borders were created with flowering trees and hardy perennials. There was a big pavilion with attendant’s room and aviary at the end of the path from Hatherley Court Road. Close by the children’s playground with its swings, slides and witches hat, there was a large wooden shelter. These buildings, the play equipment and the toilets were all removed in the 1980’s.
The BBC1 comedy, Butterflies, (1979-1986) starring Wendy Craig and Geoffrey Palmer, featured scenes of Hatherley Park. The disillusioned housewife used to day-dream on one of the benches by the lake.