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Cannon Hill Park to step back in time to mark its 150th anniversary

Cannon Hill Park
Published: Friday, 1st September 2023

One of Birmingham’s biggest parks will celebrate its 150th anniversary by stepping back into the Victorian era this month.

A free, family event will be staged in Cannon Hill Park on Saturday 9 September to celebrate how philanthropist Louisa Ryland’s gift of 57 acres of meadowland has created one of the city’s most popular parks.

A range of performances and activities will take place across the day, linked to key events in the 1870s, including tightrope workshops, inspired by Charles Blondin's spectacular feat of crossing Edgbaston Reservoir.

Cllr Majid Mahmood, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Birmingham has more than 600 parks and green spaces, with Cannon Hill Park being one of the most popular with our city’s residents and visitors.

“This anniversary shows how integral this park is to the local community for their health and wellbeing and recreation – we must thank Louisa Ryland for having the foresight in donating land which has become so much more to Birmingham over the past 150 years.”

The park was created over a century-and-a-half ago after Louisa Ryland donated much of her family home’s land (57 acres) to Birmingham Corporation, which resulted in the park being opened to the public on 1 September 1873.

On that day every visitor received a card stating that Cannon Hill Park was for the use of the people of Birmingham for ‘healthful recreation’ who will ‘aid the protection and preservation of what is now their own’.

Commemorative cards will be gifted to visitors to the event from 11am – 4.30pm. There will be an opportunity for the public to get involved with the Friends of Cannon Hill Park community group initiated by Birmingham Open Spaces Forum.

Cannon Hill Park was designed by Mr T J Gibson, who also created Battersea Park in London. In fact, many of the seeds and plants used in the creation of the ornamental gardens were supplied by Kew Gardens.

The city council’s gold-medal Chelsea Flower Show display – which celebrates Birmingham’s parks – will be officially reopened by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Chaman Lal, to mark the park’s 150th anniversary.

Event programme

The Musical Pram* 11:30, 13:00, 14:45
A strolling musical performance from a curious, bubble-blowing, old-fashioned pram!

The StoryExplorers* 12:00, 13:45, 15:30
With their one-of-a kind StoryGenerator, the StoryExplorers will reveal mysteries beneath your feet and call out to the brave adventurer in your heart.

Slacklining and Tightrope with RoguePlay
Test your balance in a drop-in workshop inspired by Charles Blondin's tightrope walk across Edgbaston Reservoir in 1873. Professional performances throughout the day too!

The Penny Farthing Club
Come and learn all about the bike’s Victorian ancestor and even have a go!

Victorian Garden Games
Challenge friends for a game of croquet or a spot of hoopla!

Meet our Victorians
They will be gifting commemorative cards, similar to those given out when the park opened in 1873.

Traditional rides
Have a go on the swingboats and chair-o-plane.

*BSL interpretation available


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