For many years the extreme end of the Lower Green was little more than waste ground, often flooded and served little purpose apart from the grazing of a few donkeys which were generally tethered to feed off the course grass. Youngsters used to try their skills in riding bareback on some of thees animals, which in turn expressed their resentment by `jibbing` and depositing the would-be rider to the ground. Aditional excitement would be added if an owner of one of the beasts happend by, which, without exception would result in a chase ensuing.
The animals were guarded against straying onto the adjoining mainroad by two heavy chains supported by staunch granite pillars, the appearance of this road was further enhanced by the avenue of trees, most of which have disappeared. This was the prospect which greeted the onlooker for many years.
When the new `Flora` horse drawn fire engine came into the town it was often taken to this open space for practice sessions. There were other places which shared this exhibition as well.
When King George V ascended the Throne it was decided to commemorate the event with a memorial of some kind. After much discussion it was decided to construct a LAKE & PARK in, up until this point, not very attractive part of town.
Work completed, the opening ceremony was performed on July 20th 1912 by Mr Francis Henry Cunnack, then Mayor of Helston, in the presence of a number of dignatories and supported by members of the public, representatives of the Town Band, Fire Brigade and Police. It was a great occasion and an important episode in the history of Helston.
Water sports events were arranged in succeeding years in various forms, including water carnivals.The original Island, then thickly populated with large trees, afforded a crowded grandstand view for spectators and supporters. Boys from the local schools received swimming instruction and boating on the lake provided a recreation new to the town. This happy state of affairs continued with very little change until the 1914 war clouds gathered. For four long and weary years changes had to be introduced to comply with the changing condtions.
With the cessation of hostilities and a return to more peaceful times thoughts again turned to the potential of the Lake and Park. New ideas were introduced and at the close of Harvest Fair Days (Plum Fair) for a number of years up until the end of the 1960`s, wonderful firework displays were organised. In 1967, the year of the Torrey Canyon disaster, the event was organised with a large model of an oil tanker floating in the lake. As the fireworks exploded the ship was set on fire to mimic the bombing of the Torrey Canyon in March of that year.
The LAKE & PARK in the 21st Century
The Lake and Park have survived those early days and now boats and canoes appear on the lake during the summer months. Paddleboats for children are provided in a special safety enclosure and adjacent flowerbeds provide an added touch of colour to the peace and tranquility. Swimming in the lake has long since past, but the `Bathing Hut` still remains as a reminder of the old days.
The waterwheel came from Coads Green, North Cornwall and while at the Lakeside before being erected the main metal bearing was stolen ( and not recovered).