Quinton Park/Quinton Recreation Ground

By Peter Beck

Back in 2001, to mark its centenary, I started to write a brief history of Quinton Recreation Ground (popularly known as Quinton Park) for the Oracle. In the event I only managed to cover the period 1901 to 1949. I had promised to finish the job and now after more than 17 years and countless reminders from the chairman I have found the time to at least take the story up to 1956. The next period (1960 onwards) will follow in a later edition of the Quinton Oracle.

A photo from 1939 showing the shelter, swings etc

I have begun with a summary of the first article. There will not be anyone alive when 'Quinton Park' actually had its beginnings, and many may have forgotten about its early history. It may also surprise those who have fond memories of it in its heyday to learn that it did not start life as a Birmingham park.

1901 - 1949

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" 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”. 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" 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.

The indenture was witnessed by the three Parish Councillors, George Middleton (Chairman), T. J. Stewart Hooson and James Dugmore, at the Parish Council meeting on the 25th February 1902.

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" under the direction of the Birmingham Parks Committee. It included an entry entitled "Quinton Recreation Grounds" 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.

The map below shows the park land from 1929-1955

Note: The shaded area was acquired in 1929 by Birmingham City Council from Bourne College Lands

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" Quinton Recreation Ground now amounted to 4.05 acres and so remained until 1956.

Bourne College

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 Parks Committee decided to enhance some of its parks with tennis courts.

Apologies for the poor quality but to our knowledge this is the only photograph that exists of the tennis courts on the right of the pathway in Quinton Park

Quinton Recreational Ground was chosen ahead of Queens Park, Harborne and 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.

1949 – 1956

The Parks Committee now also sought to make the recreation ground secure for the future. On 1st January 1951 it succeeded in persuading the Public Works Committee to designate a total of 10 acres of land with frontage to Meadow Road as Public Open Space. This included the park, together with Council Nurseries and allotments. It stated that having regard to the existing lack of recreational space in the district the Committee did not agree in any circumstances for its release for private open space or other purposes. It appeared that this area at least would not be affected by the huge amount of built development which, starting in the late 1920’s, continued to take place in Quinton.

At the same time the boundaries of the park were more clearly defined. It now stretched to the south west as far as Goodrest Avenue. In 1948 it was agreed with the occupant of no. 40 Goodrest Avenue that the boundary of the Recreation Ground was the N.E. side of the ditch, furthest away from his property.

The occupant of no. 40 moved his fence to the agreed boundary and laid pipes to allow free passage of water in the ditch. In February 1953 the occupants of no. 41 and no. 42 Goodrest Avenue expressed the desire the move their boundary fences to the correct boundary line. It was agreed that they should do so subject to suitable pipes being laid. This was approved by the Parks Committee’s on 2nd March 1953.

In July 1956 the final expansion of the recreation ground took place. The Parks Committee negotiated with the BCC Welfare Committee the appropriation of 3.4 acres of adjoining land belonging to Quinton Hall which had previously been rented out to a local farmer. This extended the park in the west up to Spies Lane opposite Gower Road. It allowed for the provision of a football ground in addition to the existing facilities (swings, shelter, toilets, and tennis courts). Cricket was also played in an unused area.

However it was necessary for the Parks Committee to submit a formal planning application to the Public Works Committee for the use of this area for public open space purposes. The latter committee deferred consent in order to find out the Parks Committee’s views on the effect of a proposed Link Road (the present Quinton Expressway) connecting the Special Road (the current M5) from its junction (current J3) with the Hagley Road.

This could absorb a considerable part of the recreation ground and possibly be a source of danger to children who would have to cross the Link Road to gain access to the park. Quinton Recreation Ground was now threatened both by the plans for the Expressway and for the M5. However the Parks Committee at this stage was determined to keep as much of the recreation ground as possible. At their meeting on the 30.7.1956 it had been explained that the date for the actual construction of the Link Road was very problematical and even after its construction the 4.75 acres which would still be available for recreational use would remain a very useful asset in view of the scarcity of public open space in the locality. They informed the City Surveyor that they desired to retain Quinton Recreation Ground and the extension land for recreational purposes for the longest possible period. Planning Permission was therefore granted by the Public Works Committee on 27.9.56.

However the proposal to develop the extension area as public open space conflicted with the provision of the City’s Development Plan, so Ministry authority also had to be sought. The Ministry gave their permission on 31st August 1956. Quinton Recreation Ground now amounted to 7.45 acres, which proved to be its greatest extent.

The path from Goodrest Avenue to Meadow Road

Ed’s comment-My thanks to Peter Beck for his time and research into one of Quinton’s forgotten areas. Hopefully, we can look forward to the final part of the story in the next Oracle.

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