THE owner of a Fordingbridge water park that is now one of the largest of its kind in the UK looks back over the last three decades as it marks its 30th anniversary.
Mark Jury started by buying a three-lake quarry in April 1989, and imported a Mastercraft ski boat from America. Two years later, he project-managed the initial build of the New Forest Water Park’s clubhouse. Mark recalled: “I was trying to do it all and even hired a heavy construction excavator, which accidentally ended up in the lake.”
Over the next ten years, four Kawasaki 440 jet skis were introduced, increasing to 12, which operated on the smaller lake. Once fish were discovered in one of the lakes, it became, and continues to be, one of the best fisheries in the south of England.
In 1995, aqua rides were introduced, to include team building exercises such as raft building and laser clay shooting. Camping facilities quickly followed, with a simple five-pitch caravan site costing £10 per caravan in 1999.
At the turn of the century, the park launched wakeboarding activities, which called for a bigger variety of boats to achieve larger wakes.
Just six years ago, New Forest Water Park built the first cable-ski system on the south coast, launching with two jumps and two rails. This was an instant hit with the local surfing/kiteboarding community.
In 2015, the park hosted the UK’s first Wibit Aqua Park. Mark, together with his daughter Millie and son Ben, went over to Germany to buy their first set of inflatable modules to create an aqua park. At the launch, it accommodated up to 60 people per hour but this rapidly doubled to 120 as additional modules were added.
Fast forward to 2019, and the park, as well as boasting an aqua park that can take 150 people, now features a state-of-the-art five-pylon cable wakeboarding system, an extensive campsite, fully licensed bar, several kayaks and paddleboards, and fishing – a far cry from the park’s modest beginnings.
Mark added: “My idea in the early days was to create a fun and safe environment for people to enjoy water activities.
“I am so proud of what my family have achieved over the past 30 years. We have, and always will, strive to be the best and remain at the forefront of safe family fun.”