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Elms Field

Elms Field was a large public open space in the centre of Wokingham. In 1952 the land was left by the last of the Ellison family to 'the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the Borough of Wokingham ... for the purposes of a Public Open Space'. The then Borough Council was abolished in 1974, with many of its responsibilities transferred to the new Wokingham District Council (later renamed Wokingham Borough Council, which is rather confusing since it covers a swathe of central Berkshire stretching from Hampshire to Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire – far more than Wokingham).

Most of Elms Field was grass with extensive mature trees. It also included tennis courts, a putting course and exercise places (all long neglected by the Council) and a popular children's play area. In the 1960s the Council built offices in the southeast corner, which were later demolished, but this was a minor intrusion on the 7 or 8 acres of open space, which were free for the public to enjoy, and a popular site for holding major events like summer fairs.

In 2016, despite strong opposition from the residents, the Council (80% of whose members do not represent Wokingham) decided to use Elms Field for building houses, shops, a supermarket and a hotel. This entailed felling many mature trees, including several recorded on the Veteran Tree Register .

The pictures here show how it was before it was destroyed, and how it is.

As it was – October 2017      After clearance – February 2018      During building – 2018


October 2017

The firat set of pictures give an impression of what Elms Field was like before the developers moved in.  

Click image to see larger picture, . . . then . . . follow arrows to see others.


From Denmark street you entered the most heavily wooded area, with many of the oldest and biggest trees. To your left was the green hoarding around the site of the demolished Council office building, and ahead opened out into the main area of the park.

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Entering through the trees from Denmark Street
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Looking down towards Wellington Road
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Looking across the wooded area
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Sunlight filtering through the trees

Entering from the south you had tree lined vistas along the length of Elms Road, which ran through the park

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Wellington Road entrance
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Trees hid the site of old Council offices
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View up Elms Road
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Rear of old Council office site
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View across Elms Road
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View across Elms Road
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View down Elms Road
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View down Elms Road

West of Elms Road there was the popular play area.

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Entrance to the play area
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Play area seen from Elms Road
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Closer view of the play area
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Another closer view of the play area

Beyond the play area were the tennis courts, long since abandoned by the Council.

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Tennis court seen from the play area
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Tennis court
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Fenced off tennis court
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Another view of fenced off court

The rest of the park was much more open and spacious, with a line of trees separating it from Wellington Road

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Trees screening the new development in Wellington Road
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Seats near large tree
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Recently planted trees
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Trees screening the new development in Wellington Road
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A couple strolling across the grass
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Trees at the south of Elms Field
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Looking back towards the play area
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Weeping Willow and sitting area

February 2018

These pictures show the immediate aftermath of site clearance ahead of the building work.  

Click image to see larger picture, then follow arrows to see others. 


Wherever you looked there were the stumps of freshly felled trees

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Felled trees along Denmark Street
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Looking down Denmark Street
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Cutting up the rails as well
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Stark skyline from Denmark Street
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Stump surrounded by sawdust
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Felled tree sawn up
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Felled tree out of bounds
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Young trees go too

All that remained of once mighty trees were enormous heaps of chippings and piles of logs awaiting removal.

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A bleak landscape with huge mounds of chippings
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Chippings close up showing the size of the heaps
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Masses of logs awaiting removal
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Logs and piles of chippings

A few trees were left standing, but not many. Meanwhile digging foundations had already begun.

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A few trees left standing
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Ironic slogan when destroying a civic amenity
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Start of the building works
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Another view of excavation

Over on the west of the park the line of trees that separated it from the car park were being removed, and the deserted play area awaited its fate.

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Tree removal on northwest
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Close up
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Some of the trees cut down
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Deserted play area - before the whole area was cleared

2018 – during the building

Shortly after cutting down the trees, the contractors erected a high barrier around the site that hides much of the work within. They began painting it green but the paint ran in the rain so it had to be cleaned off. A crane is visible behind it, and the extent of the work can be seen from the top of the multi-story car park in Erftstadt Court.  

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Green paint ran in the rain so the barriers had to be cleaned
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The site seen from Finchampsted Road
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Looking south from the car park roof
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Looking west from the car park roof

 I may add more pictures in due course.

You may also like to see the beautiful countryside just south of Wokingham , which can still be enjoyed while awaiting destruction by development.

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