Ilkeston - An Afternoon At The Park
w/e 11 March 2012
All this week's pictures were taken
with a Kodak DX6490
It doesn't matter what time of year you visit Victoria
Park, there's always a photo somewhere in the 14 acre site waiting
to be taken but when the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming,
there are many images just begging to be captured. The ten random
shots on this page were all taken one afternoon at the park.
When the park was opened and named by the Duke of Rutland in
1902 it was surrounded by iron railings with access gates that
were locked at sunset. Today all sides of the park enjoy an open
aspect but at this time of year access from the Bristol Road
side is partially restricted by the propensity of crocuses that
flower along the boundary. An old photo of one set of gates is available at
the Picture The Past site and a search for Victoria Park there
also brings up a whole host of old images.
The Victorians have to be complimented for their vision in creating
this park in an area of former ironstone workings and coal mines.
Iron ore was extracted until 1871 but by 1887 it was an open
area known as "The Hill" and a huge bonfire was lit
to celebrate Queen Victorias Jubilee. It was not until
1896 however that the Town Council was made aware of "certain
parcels of land which the Duke of Rutland was prepared to lease
to the Corporation for as long a term as can be operated by law."
Certain conditions were attached to the Duke's offer including
that it should be kept for the Public as a Recreation and Pleasure
Ground but adult cricket or football matches were not to be permitted.
The conditions did not however restrict the construction of a
bandstand and a temporary one was erected in August 1897 on the
highest point in the park. This was replaced by a permanent bandstand
in August 1923.
Another of the conditions was "That the Corporation lay
out and drain the Ground and make such walks and plant such shrubs
and flowers as they shall determine." Some of those formal
beds below the high ground and the bandstand were enclosed by
small box hedges (see
Picture The Past view) but children now play on the grass
around the three raised flowerbeds. Beyond is the bowling green
where the bowling pavilion was treated to a repainting in the
spring of 2010 as part of an ongoing maintenance programme.
It was also in 2010 but during the summer that the Tree Trail was updated and new marker/identification
posts were installed.
The park has undergone some systematic improvements since 2009
including the replanting of borders, repairs to the bandstand
and maintenance to hedges and trees, refurbishment of seating
and the installation of new signs and bollards. A new play area
for children has been installed but the main reason I took the
picture above was because of the hazel catkins hanging in profusion
from the tree.
It was near the play area though that we bumped into some friends
exercising their dog, who needed no encouragement to stand and
pose for the camera.
But even when the park is busy with children playing, dog walkers
and gardeners tending to the borders or mowing the grass or just
other members of the pubic, it is still possible to find a shady
corner or footpath for a little solitude and contemplation.
Last year (2011) recognising the work and improvements that have
been undertaken in recent years, Victoria Park won a prestigious
Green Flag Award acknowledging it as being one of the best parks
in the country. The award is presented to parks that have excellent
facilities and are well-maintained and well-managed. The park
is also one of the main features in the town's participation
in the "In Bloom" competition and scores highly each
year. When the judges visit for the competition, the crocuses
are long gone but should they chance to visit in March, they
would surely award top marks without hesitation.
For the final image in this set, it would be remiss of me not
to show a close up the flowers that drew me here in the first
place - the humble but beautiful crocus. I understand there are
some eighty different species but I just chose this purple variety
as I like the colour!