Ward End Park
Birmingham Corporation purchased 43 acres of land in September 1903 and a further 11 acres in November 1903. These were officially opened to the public as Ward End Park on 14 May 1904.
The current lake area was originally a marshy bog land with natural springs. The lake itself was created as a work finding measure at the beginning of the last century. Boating on the lake ended when the boathouse (a 20 m long 8 door wooden building) was burned down and all boats, canoes, rowing boats and catamarans were lost (approx. 1978). The TS Dolphin building now occupies the place of the old boathouse.
Facing the current Fire Station on Washwood Heath Road, a wooden fire engine shed, a Nissan-hut like building, housed the local fire engine and firemen until the new fire station was built in 1980.
The park contained a bandstand, which was demolished in the 1950's, grass tennis courts and an 18 hole putting green. Bowling greens, one flat rink green and a crown green, were well used up to the seventies.
The original conservatories and greenhouse were replaced in 1960 / 1961 by new structures which were used as a nursery for plant propagation. There was also a tropical show house housing banana plants. These were in turn demolished in 1990 when a new centralised nursery for the council was brought into operation.
From 1904 up to the 1960's the park was looked after by three park keepers i.e. one sergeant and two keepers. They were given power of arrest, similar to British Rail Police and patrolled the park, which was divided into different beats. A Park Superintendent was in charge. He was based and at some time occupied personal accommodation in Ward End Park House. In addition to the keepers there were game and boat attendants and gardeners. At the end of the 1960's mobile park patrols with dogs were installed. About 60 men in blue uniforms regularly checked all of Birmingham's parks and responded to calls. At this time uniformed park keepers and attendants were still employed. However, a new strategy in the 1970's and 1980's replaced keepers with Park Rangers. Their role (without power of arrest) was 'friendly' and focussed towards education and the environment. As they were mostly stationed in the new Country Parks and larger parks like Sutton Park for example - smaller parks like Ward End were left with no representative.
Over the years a number of refurbishments and developments have taken place within in the park. With sponsorship from Coca-Cola the National Playing Field Association, then based in Ward End Park House, managed to refurbish play equipment and establish a play centre, later to become a youth centre, known as 'The Base'. They also managed to reburbish the main car park and some of the main pathways including those around the pool area.
The last major investment into Ward End Park took place in 1989 when a 10 year programme released several millions of pounds for Birmingham's inner city parks.
From 2000 a Park Warden was appointed to the park and additionally in 2005 a Park Keeper post was re introduced.
100th Anniversary Year 2004
The 100th Anniversary celebrations took place over 2 days in the park on 14th May 2004. The event was well supported by local residents and schools in the area. The Lord Mayor, Cllr Alden was also in attendance.
Local Historian Carl Chinn, along with schoolchildren buried a time capsule in the grounds to mark the event. There were numerous workshop / demonstration areas, along with stalls set up by the Fire Brigade, NHS and Ranger Service.
Childrens paddle boats were brought in for the event. They were identical to those used on the lake before the boathouse was destroyed. This gave children the chance to use the same paddle boats which were available in many parks on a daily basis in past years.
Trees For Life
Birmingham Trees for Life is a project designed to promote awareness and understanding of the value and importance of maintaining our exisitng tree stock and to raise funds to allow new trees to be planted in the City. It actively encourages the involvement of all the community in tree planting, aiming to increase awareness and sense of responsibility for the environment.
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