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Highlands Gardens was formerly the garden of Highlands House, built in 1897 for banker and government stockholder Bevan Braithwaite who probably laid out the gardens. Braithwaite was also an amateur astronomer whose telescope was housed in the copper dome that surmounted the building. When Braithwaite sold the property in 1930 the house was converted into 8 flats, although it later reverted to a family home after 1951. It gradually deteriorated and was eventually demolished in 1972 when the current flats were built. During WWII the garden was dug up for vegetable plots and the dome was painted black, as it was thought to represent an aid to aerial navigation.
The garden is a small site on sloping ground, enclosed by railings with a wooden lych-gate entrance at the junction of Leicester Road and Abbotts Road. There is a raised lawn terrace in front of which is a pergola walk, and up the western side are water-gardens with C19th rock-works, cascade, rustic bridges and an octagonal wooden summer house. The rockworks may have been carried out by the firm of James Pulham & Sons in c.1871. Although the lawn terrace is overlooked by the flats built on the site of the original house, the paths meandering through the water garden are secluded and lead to formal bedding towards the top. Highlands Gardens are quite densely planted with specimen trees and exotics including yucca, monkey puzzle and yew.
At the highest point of the park there used to be an aviary until the late 1990s, now derelict but once signposted as the 'Bird World Display Centre' but by 1996 only contained budgerigars, cockatiels, finches, rabbits, hens, partridges and guinea pigs.