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GUEST BLOG - Friends of Victoria Park look back at the Stafford gem's Edwardian heyday

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: February 26, 2014

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WE HAD an interesting meeting on Wednesday with the consultants who are supporting the bid for a Heritage Lottery grant which will be made in August this year.

The focus is on restoring the Pleasure Grounds part of the park to something close to its appearance in 1908, as an Edwardian town park.

We looked at the way the paths, flower beds and shrubberys were set out on the original plans,drawn up by William Blackshaw in 1903 and 1908. There were more paths,winding around the flower beds and shrubberies,so that people could promenade while listening to the music from the bandstand and enjoying the floral display. All very calm and stately.

The original plan also included a landing stage for boats. (just behind the black building, now the public toilets, by the bowling green.) As far as we could tell, the landing stage was never used.The intention was to hire it out to a local boatman, who would provide the boats for hire. Since then, the level of water in the river has been lowered, so it is no longer feasable to have boats on the river. What a shame.

It all seems to be very long ago and far away.

I was also talking this week to Kerry Ashdown, a senior Newsletter reporter, and she was reflecting on the shock the outbreak of World War 1 must have been to the people of Stafford and around. There had never been a conflict which involved the whole population in the way that the First World War did. So when the war started in August 1914, people would not have known what was going to happen in the next four long years.

Those few years, between the death of Queen Victoria and the outbreak of war must have been such a time of peace and tranquility for everyone. The heaviness and pomposity of the late Victorian age, of its architecture, and domestic furnishings and fashion, were replaced by a lightness and elegance in architecture, and the development of the Art Nouveau in decoration and a general softening in fashion.

It will be lovely if we can return the park to some of that elegance and beauty.

Maybe we could have an Edwardian event and dress up in big hats and floaty dresses etc. Watch this space folks!

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