In 1956, Beale Park was formed by Gilbert Beale who decided to give this beautiful, 350 acre, Thames-side park land to ‘the people’ by converting it from private farmland into a non-profit making, charitable trust. In those days it was little more than a track and a couple of ponds.
Gilbert, being eccentric in the extreme, adored Indian peacocks and by his death, aged 99, in 1967, there were over 300 on site. His favourite, a peahen called Laura, followed him everywhere and even rode around the estate in his Rolls Royce!
Gilbert’s great nephew, Richard Howard and his family, together with a dedicated team of staff – some of whom have been associated with the Park since the 1940s – have made the Park what it is today, a unique and enchanting garden, specialising in captive breeding of rare birds and organic farming, providing a relaxing environment for visitors of all ages. There is a huge array of attractions now, ranging from a brand new education facility, nature trails and owlery to summer river cruises, adventure playgrounds and a splash pool, set against the backdrop of the River Thames.
The Trustees believe that all species have an equal right to life and, therefore, to conservation. Beale Park is very fortunate to have a truly dedicated team of professionals to care for the animals and the land in its tenure.
Since the Trust was formed the bird collection, in particular, has advanced from a few peacocks to one of the foremost collections in Europe. The main source of funding for these important projects is from ticket receipts at the gate, so Beale Park relies on its visitors more than ever before. Visitors are helping conserve rare and endangered birds just by coming to see the collection and enjoying a day out at this traditional park.