The recent misnaming by Dudley Council of a large part of what was formerly Quinton Recreation Ground, shows how easy it is for our local history to be lost or corrupted. As this recreation ground has played an important part of the lives of successive generations of children and parents in Old Quinton including Howley Grange, I thought it was essential to begin putting together an accurate history of 'Quinton Park'. The following account is only a skeleton outline of the creation and development of the recreation ground up to 1949, together with some mention of the surrounding area. Hopefully this will encourage 'Old Quintonians' to recall their own memories and help the Society put the record straight.
At the end of 2001 we will be able to celebrate Quinton Recreation Ground's centenary. It is doubtful if there are any current or former residents of Old Quinton who were alive when 'Quinton Park' had its beginnings. It may also surprise many who have such fond memories of it to learn that it did not start life as a Birmingham park.
At the end of the last century Quinton had its own local government, a Parish Council, which was part of Halesowen Rural District Council. The Parish Council "who were desirous of providing a recreation ground for the Parish" (i) were presented with an opportunity to make this a reality when local landowner John Darby died on 13th February 1898. The Council were able to negotiate with the trustees of his will regarding "that piece or parcel of land situate near Meadow Lane Quinton" (i). The original trustees were Martha Darby of Hawthorn Cottage, Quinton (his widow), Eliza Partridge (his daughter) and Joseph Alan Sidaway of Dudley Road, Halesowen (spade and shovel manufacturer). However, Eliza quickly gave up being a trustee and Martha and Joseph appointed Edwin Darby of Bearwood to replace her.
At its meeting on the 5th September 1901 the Parish Council agreed that they would purchase the land amounting to "one and a quarter acres or thereabouts" (i) for three hundred and twenty five pounds. An indenture was drawn up which was signed, sealed and delivered by the trustees on 31st December 1901 conveying the land to the Council "Together with all mines minerals and appurtenances thereto belonging and also the right to use the road marked 'proposed road' for all purposes and all occasions in common with the other parties entitled thereto" (i). The indenture was witnessed by Parish Councillors George Middleton (Chairman), T.J.Stewart Hooson and James Dugmore, at the Parish Council meeting on the 25th February 1901.
In November 1909 the parish of Quinton was annexed by Birmingham from Halesowen and the annexation ceremony took place in the recreation ground. The Rev. James Jones, last Chairman of the Parish Council, and the Mayor of Birmingham were present. In 1916 Robert K. Dent published his "Public Parks and Gardens of Birmingham" (ii) under the direction of the Birmingham Parks Committee. It included an entry entitled "Quinton Recreation Grounds" which describes how the annexation "brought with it a small accession to the open spaces of the city, in the form of a small recreation ground, an acre and a half in extent". The entry also records that in 1911-12, adjacent to the east of the little recreation ground, "a larger area of 14 acres 2 rods and 6 poles" was purchased by Birmingham City Council, at a cost of £1,090. 16s. 3d, to form a nursery garden.
Adjacent to the west of the recreation ground lay the grounds of Bourne College. The College went into liquidation at the end of 1928 and by a conveyance, dated the 25 March 1929, was acquired by the Guardians of the Poor of the Birmingham Union. The Guardians intended converting the former College into Quinton Hall, a residential establishment for old people. However, they did not require all the grounds and on 21st September 1929, 2 acres, 3 roods 8 poles of land was gifted by a conveyance to the City of Birmingham "for the purpose of forming part of the adjoining Quinton Recreation Ground" (iii). Thus, the park benefited from the demise of the college and it was further "agreed that the Parks Committee should be responsible for the erection and subsequent maintenance of fencing along the new boundary." Quinton Recreation Ground now amounted to 4.05 acres and so remained until 1956.
The Second World War had an impact on the Park as it came under the authority of the military. On 5th November 1941 the Fire Brigade was authorised "to provide static water basin on site between the public right of way from Meadow Road and the boundary of Bourne Lane immediately at the rear of the first house adjoining the right of way from Meadow Road Basin is above ground." After the war, the park's recreational facilities were enhanced when on the 4th July 1949, the Parks Committee authorised the provision of two tennis courts at a cost of £800. The courts were, subsequently, used on Wednesday and Friday evenings by the 25 members of the Theta Club. It was started by its leading light, Trevor York from the Quinton Methodist Church.
In Part Two I will try to explain how "Quinton Park" has come to consist of two distinct parts divided between Birmingham and Dudley.
The society plan to publish a book of photographs later in the year, if you have any of the park, Theta Club, or in fact any of the area I have discussed, please contact Bernard Taylor on 0121-422-1792.References
Over the last two years Dudley Council have started referring to their part as "Howley Grange Park". Quinton Local History Society has strongly objected to this recent practice. If you wish to add your voice to the Society's request that Dudley Council revert to calling their part "Quinton Park" you can write to the following:
Halesowen Area Committee
Chief Executive's Department
West Midlands DY1 1HF
Director of Leisure
Planning & Leisure Department
Blowers Green Road
Dudley DY2 8UZ
©QLHS2001 - Peter Beck (QLHS Conservation Officer)
Thank you, Peter, for this insight into Quinton's Past. I for one look forward to the next chapter - Editor.
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