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20 February 2018
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Charlie Dimmock unveils memorial to man who lit up Townhill Park PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 11 July 2017 11:32

Charlie Dimmock celebrates monument in Townhill Park SouthamptonGardening expert and TV presenter Charlie Dimmock has unveiled a memorial to commemorate Ivan Nicholls, who was perhaps better known as Father Christmas in Townhill Park – and way beyond.


Charlie Dimmock celebrates monument in Townhill Park Southampton

Mr Nicholls, who lived in Broadwater Road, is said to have begun a Townhill trend by illuminating his house with Christmas lights during the festive period – and even had a Santa’s grotto in his garden.

The area's annual illuminations attracted many sightseers, who would often visit Father Christmas (AKA Mr Nicholls), too.

Monument unveiled by Charlie Dimmock in Townhill Park SouthamptonOn a sweltering afternoon (July 10) many local residents popped along to see the memorial, fittingly cloaked in Christmas wrapping paper, unveiled by Charlie Dimmock.

The star of the BBC’s Ground Force and other makeover shows said she knew the area as she used to deliver there when working at a garden centre.

“I know Ivan had many, many people in the area that were very fond of the Christmas grotto that he used to do,” she said.

Community spirit

“I know he used to annoy some of you because people would come from far and wide to see the lights and everything, but it shows a wonderful community spirit, and I think it’s great that the Townhill Park Association have put this memorial in.”

Lynne Symms, treasurer of Townhill Park Residents’ Association, which donated the engraved rock, said it was very apt that Charlie Dimmock had been able to come along given the garden theme.

“Ivan was a lovely man. He lit up the skies in more ways than one,” she said. “He started off lighting his house up, and it just escalated with all the neighbours, and was known through the whole of Hampshire, really.

“A good couple of weeks before Christmas he would have his little hut outside, he’d dress up as Father Christmas: children would queue for hours to see him. People would donate sweets, toys for him to give out to children, and he asked for nothing in return, other than to give children a good Christmas.”

broadwater road lights, Southampton

She said she thought that, although there was no longer a Father Christmas in Broadwater Road, the tradition of illuminating the houses during the festive period would continue, and people would continue to visit to see the lights.

'It got bigger and bigger each year'

Neighbour Andy England, who lives next door in what was his grandfather’s house, said: “It kind of built up and got bigger and bigger each year. It was really good. When it was my grandad’s house we put lights up in the window, and then when we moved in we always put up the lights and still do.”

He said he thought the memorial was “brilliant”.

charlie with monument 460
Charlie Dimmock with the memorial to Ivan Nicholls

Previously: Fine display of Christmas lights at Broadwater Road

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