California Country Park
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It is situated approximately 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) south of Wokingham and is bounded by Arborfield Garrison to the west, California to the east, the Nine Mile Ride to the south and what was once Barkham Common to the north. It consists of lowland heath and bogland, including Longmoor Bog, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local Nature Reserve. The Park is managed by Wokingham Borough Council and is open every day throughout the year. As well as offering walks and wildlife watching, especially around Longmoor Lake, there is a cafe, summer paddling pool, toddler swings and an adventure play area.
In 1931, it was established as an amusement park and Zoo by Alfred Cartilage and was called California in England.The miniature railway was initially laid out to 10.25" but was soon changed to 18" and this lasted until the outbreak of the second world war when the park closed and all the buildings were used for the manufacture of munitions.Alfred reopened the park after the war and set about developing the rides many of which were designed and built onsite, including the famous Snake Train.The railway was reestablished as 18" gauge using a petrol powered locomotive His son,Norman took over in the early 1950s and continued the development of the site including realigning the miniature railway,adding new rides and running a circus for several years.The art deco main building included a famous sprung glass floored ballroom over the restaurant and featured a full calendar of dances often 'with star turns' .This structure was later destroyed by fire.Throughout this period 'The Poppies' speedway team competed on the dirt track laid out in a remote corner of the estate. In the early 1960s the amusement business was failing and the site obtained new owners who turned it into a holiday camp .Caravanning and camping facilities are still available on site at the California Chalet and Touring Park but the main part of the original amusement area is within the country park and largely overgrown.
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- California Country Park
- Defunct speedway tracks - California Speedway
- California In England Holiday Camp - Dedicated site