So how did Stafford come to have Victoria Park, writes Friend of Victoria Park, Victoria Wood.
We take it for granted, that it’s where it is, and looks like it does.
Well, we need to go back to the year 1882, when the old Borough Surveyor for Stafford retired and the General Purposes Committee of the Borough Council had the task of appointing a new Borough Surveyor.
There were ninety eight applicants for the job, and sixteen men were shortlisted.
They came from all over the Country and among them was William Blackshaw who had been the Borough Surveyor in Congleton.
He had worked with the famous garden landscape designer Edmund Kemp on Congleton Park, and I have a feeling part of the attraction of Stafford was that he would have the opportunity of creating a park which would be as beautiful as the one he had been involved with in Congleton.
(An earlier plan for a park had been discussed by the Borough Council in 1896, but there had been a great deal of opposition to the plan and the idea had been dropped.William would have known this).
William got the job and his time was taken up in his first few years by bringing a supply of clean water to Stafford, from the Shugbrough Estate.
However, in 1903, William submitted his plan for a park opposite the Railway Station and running alongside the river. His plan was detailed and fully costed; The total cost of the park,benches,shelters, band stand etc, was £3,911. The annual cost of maintenance was £93.
Eventually, in 1908 the plans, slightly modified, were accepted and the Park was built
From a report in the Staffordshire Chronicle, dated 20th June 1908, which talks about ‘The walks which gracefully wind in and out, the wonderful effect which has been produced by ingenious minds and skillful hands’.
The report goes on to mention that the Park was opened on the Monday morning at 8.00. by the Borough Surveyor, Mr W. Blackshaw, ‘to whose ability, both in respect of the planning of the grounds, and on the constructive work which was necessary, the town owes no small debt of gratitude, despite the fact that he is a paid official of the town. Then and now.
More next week.