Sunday, 26 June 2011

Ongoing research; last updated 11 July 2016

This volume continues the historical overview of Selly Oak Park; the earlier years having been reported in the previous volumes (see column on right) and in the book, “The Heydays of Selly Oak Park”. Again the clippings, listed in the column on the right, contain the more extensive detail upon which it is founded - information from Council committee minutes, newspaper reports, etc.

Park Environment
Early in the year there were two acquisitions for the park – i) a new greenhouse – 50 ft. x 12 ft., constructed in well seasoned Siamese Yang, glazed with elliptically cut clear horticultural glass, complete with iron staging and heating - provided by Foster & Pearson Ltd., Beeston, Nottingham, for the sum of £632. 7s. 6d.; and ii) a timber built garage – 15 ft. x 10 ft. – provided by Vane & Schofield, for £82. 0s. 0d.
In March authority was given for some modifications to, and the provision of a w.c. set for, the bathroom in the Harborne Lane Lodge (occupied then by Mr. C.N. Selibas, Trees in Streets Foreman) at an estimated cost for materials of £60. 0s. 0d. (labour was provided by Department staff).
In April it was reported to the Council that the Birmingham Battery and Metal Company Limited had made another gift of 2.19 acres of land behind the houses numbered 52-62 in Gibbins Road, as an addition to the Park.  The land had been part of the Company’s recreation ground.  Conditions similar to those of their earlier gifts were again attached to this gift.  The Town Clerk reported on 5th November that he had completed the conveyance of this land.

Map taken from the conveyance document showing the 1951 extension of the Park.
After the Estimates for the financial year 1951/52 had been drawn up, the Parks Committee was required to find a reduction of about £40,000 in its total budget (to avoid putting the rates up), and one item sacrificed in order to contribute to that target was a fence to the Canal boundary of the Park.
However, two specific items that did survive were - i) a Ransomes Certes 12” Hand Mower, costing £35. 0s. 0d.; and ii) a Ransomes 14” Ripper Hand Mower costing £20. 0s. 0d. - and these were purchased early for use in the 1951 season.
Later in the year it was recorded that 3 loads of Staffordshire bricks were purchased for new greenhouses for £55. 0s. 0d. from the Aldridge Brick & Tile Co. Ltd.
The budget also included provision for fencing; and 170 yards of 5’6” high sawn Oak open pale fencing were obtained from Rudders & Payne’s, Ltd. for £184. 17s. 6d.

On 1st January, Master J.B. Herrick (15) started work in the Park as a Garden Boy on a weekly wage of £2. 6s. 7d.
On 16th February, Mr. W.G. Haste (21) resigned from his post of Garden Boy in the Park, having served for a little less than a year.

In February a change back-dated to 1st October 1950 was approved - the post of Park-keeper (then occupied by Mr. J.E. Hughes) was moved from Manual Grade 2 (with a wage scale of £7. 5s. 0d. rising to £8. 0s. 0d. per week) to a Non-Manual grade – APT Misc. Div. IV (attracting an annual salary of £360 rising by £15 increments to £420).  This change was not peculiar to Selly Oak Park, but was one of a number of grade changes applied in other parks too.  With effect from 31st August, Mr. Hughes (46), with 20 years’ service, was granted 2/- per week Improved Service Pay.  Towards the end of the year it was recorded that, with effect from 1st April, Mr. Hughes’ pay was £8. 5s. 0d. per week.  Also towards the end of the year it was recorded that, with effect from 1st April, Mr. Hughes’ pay was £8. 5s. 0d. per week.
Also towards the end of the year, it was recorded that, again with effect from 1st April 1951, Mr. L. Charlton’s pay was £6. 15s. 0d. per week.  Mr. Charlton was the foreman at the Park.
On 14th June, Master J.R. Riley (16) started work in the Park as a Garden Boy on a weekly wage of £2. 18s. 3d.  He resigned his post just 6 months later, on 13th December.
On 4th September, Mr. J.B. Jones (26) started work in the Park as a Garden Labourer on a weekly wage of £5. 5s. 6d.
4th September was also the date on which Mr. J. Manley (51) resigned his post of Park Policeman after more than 3 years’ service.
On 1st October, Master B. Finch (15) started work in the Park as a Garden Boy on a weekly wage of £2. 9s. 6d.
1st October was also the date from which Mr. A.G. Watts (26), a Gardener 2nd Class, who had commenced work in the Park in April 1948, was awarded a 2/- per week Improved Service Pay.

Park use
The Selly Oak Carnival Committee made more than £445 profit from their week-long 1950 Carnival which included a Saturday (10th June) of activities in the Park.  The Parks Committee permitted the Carnival Committee to disburse those profits to various local charities.  The major beneficiary was the “Sons of Rest” who received a donation of £100 for new furniture and the laying aside of £150 towards an extension of their shelter at Bournbrook Recreation Ground.  Other minor beneficiaries included St. Wulstan’s Church, the “Daughters of Rest” (a newly emerging organisation), The Blind, and the Stonehouse Youth Club; there were also small monetary Christmas gifts to the individual “Sons of Rest” at Selly Park and Selly Oak.

Permission was granted for another Carnival in 1951, held during the week commencing 10th June, when various activities took place in the Park (including small-scale side-shows, but no fair; - even a subsequent application for a roundabout was declined).  There was an evening service planned for the preceding day and the Committee intended engaging trick motor-cycle riders on the Saturday afternoon, 16th June.  It was subsequently reported that the Saturday was a very successful day, enjoyed by nearly 13,000 people.  Later in the year it was reported that the Carnival week made a profit of almost £647, and the Carnival Committee was allowed to make donations to the “Sons of Rest” (£350) and a number of other Charities (£100), and to retain a float for the Carnival in 1952 (£45).  The wishes of the Carnival Committee in favour of the "Sons of Rest" - repainting the hut at Bournbrook Recreation Ground, installing better lighting, providing new furniture and windows, and installing a washbasin – were approved by the Parks Committee.

There were two serious accidents in the park with patients being taken to hospital for treatment:-

On 17th February, Dereck Harold (15) sustained an injury to his right ankle whilst playing football.

On 12th June, Peter O’Connell (17) dislocated his left wrist when he slipped while playing in the public shelter.

The Festival Queen, 1951 - thought to be Jean Bennett
(Photograph kindly contributed by John Skinner)

The Shelter, at the head of the central drive of the Park from the Gibbins Rd. Lodge.
(Photograph kindly contributed by John Skinner)

Park Environment
At the end of 1951 invitations to tender for supplying refreshments from mobile canteens in various parks were sent out.  The offer, of 5/- per week, for the privilege of providing such a service in Selly Oak Park, submitted by Mr. I.M. Houghton, of Keepers Rd., Little Aston, was accepted by the Parks Committee in January, and presumably refreshments were available in the Park during the following season.
The Report & Control Centre which was constructed during the War still existed in the Park (as similar ones did in many other parks).  Since the end of the War they had fallen into disuse and had been a constant source of trouble to the Parks Staff and Police, not only from the point of view of trying to prevent damage by children and youths, but the structures formed a dangerous playground for children who continually climbed over the mounds of earth and the concrete entrances and jumped down from a height of 8 or 10 ft.  Several children had sustained injury that way.  It was announced that the Control Centres were to be brought back into use for the purpose of training Civil Defence personnel under the direction of the Home Office.  Following a suggestion made by the Parks Department at the end of 1951, the Civil Defence Committee agreed to pay for the erection of a 5’6” high sawn oak open pale fence around the building.  The fence prevented access from the park, but provided an independent entrance on the street frontage (Avenue Road), so that the Control Centre could be used after dark without the park being kept open to the public.
In March the emerging “Daughters of Rest” movement came into prominence in Selly Oak Park.  The “Sons of Rest” movement had been in operation for many years.  The Parks Committee had permitted shelters to be constructed in many parks for the aged men, providing them with a place where they could retire to smoke, pay darts and cards, and generally socialise, while (it was argued) “their women folk were occupying themselves with affairs of housework” (the perceived order of things at that time!).  However, when approaches were made for similar facilities for the “Daughters of Rest” – in October 1938 for a room at Nechells, and again in November 1950 for a privately financed shelter beside the “Sons of Rest” shelter in the Bournbrook Recreation Ground – the requests were refused.  Now, in March 1952, the Parks Committee were asked to sanction a privately financed shelter for the elderly ladies in Selly Oak Park.  But still the answer was “No”.  In late July the Parks Committee were made aware of a petition signed by 89 people which was to be put before the City Council, and this prompted a very lively debate in Committee with clearly divided views on whether the “Daughters of Rest” needed or should be allowed to have their own shelter, and on whether the Committee was acting within its delegated powers, or doing so legally, in making shelters available to either the “Sons” or the “Daughters of Rest”.  The petition went before the City Council in October and was duly referred to the Parks Committee, and there then followed considerable debate which was recorded in reams of paper in the minute books, after which the Parks Committee, on a 6 – 4 vote, maintained its “No” stance and informed the City Council accordingly.  But the story did not end there as we shall see in 1953 ................   
In December it was announced that funds had been allocated from the Keep Bequest, and a total of 9 Teak memorial seats with bronze plaques were obtained from Messrs. Barlow Tyric & Co., Leytonstone, London for the Park.  (This Bequest occurred in 2 phases - the first made early in 1951 provided 190 seats for the Birmingham parks (2 for Selly Oak) – and this second phase provided another 193 seats (7 for Selly Oak).)
Repairs to the Canal bridge at the Harborne Lane Entrance to the Park were carried out by the Docks and Inland Waterways Executive in March.
In November it was reported that 273 Roses – the annual supply – had been purchase from Mr. R. Scott, Earlswood for £51. 19s. 6d.
Clearly salaries were creeping upwards with cost of living increases and wage scale increments.  In April 1951 it was recorded that the wages of the Park-keeper / Officer-in-charge, Mr. J. E. Hughes were £8. 5s. 0d.  But his pay had moved on during the year, for in April 1952 an increase from £8. 12s. 4d. to £8. 17s. 4d. per week was approved.
Similarly, the wages of Mr. L. Charlton, the Foreman, moved from £6. 15s. 0d. through £7. 2s. 4d. to £7. 4s. 10d. per week.
On 23rd May, Mr. C. Dunham (41) resigned his post of Park Policeman after almost 3 years of service.
Following the retirement in August of the Park Superintendent at Lightswood Park there were “certain adjustments of staff”, as a result of which Mr. J.E. Hughes, the Park Keeper at Selly Oak, was promoted to Park Superintendent at Lightwoods Park, at a salary in the Miscellaneous Division Grade V.  To take Mr. Hughes place, Mr. D.N.H. Hicken, Park Keeper at Calthorpe Park was promoted to Park Keeper at Selly Oak, on a wage in the Manual Grade of £8. 2s. 10d. to £9. 2s. 10d. per week.  However, before the approved appointments were put into effect, a communication was received from Mr. Hughes, stating that after further inspection of the living accommodation at Lightwoods Park, he wished to withdraw his application and remain at Selly Oak Park.  His request was granted and there was no change at Selly Oak.
On 20th July, Mr. J. Billingham (43) started work as a Park Policeman on a weekly wage of £6. 5s. 6d., but he had resigned that post by the end of the week, on 25th July!
On 29th July, Mr. H. Burgis (50) started work as a Park Policeman on a weekly wage of £6. 5s. 6d.
In July it was reported that the staff establishment for Selly Oak Park was – 1 Officer-in-charge, 1 Foreman, 2 Gardeners, 2 Labourers, 2 Garden Boys, and 1 Park Policeman – a total of 9 personnel.
Park use
Permission was given to the Selly Oak Carnival Committee to stage certain Carnival activities in the Park during the week commencing 8th June.  In November it was reported that 18,000 people had enjoyed themselves at the Carnival. 
In anticipation of the Coronation Celebrations (for Queen Elizabeth II) in June 1953, applications for children’s parties and similar events in the park were received from:-
  • The Durley Dean C.P. - organised by Mr. A.L. Wood, 143 Durley Dean Road, Selly Oak.
  • The Fladbury Grove residents – organised by Mr. A.N. Eden, Fladbury Grove, Selly Oak.
  • The Reservoir Road C.P. – organised by Mr. E.G. Pratt, 98 Reservoir Rd, Selly Oak.
  • The Gatley Grove C.P. – organised by Mrs. D. Boyd, 101 Gibbins Rd, Selly Oak.
  • The Woolacombe Lodge Rd. C.P. – organised by Mr. S. Ridding, 90 Woolacombe Rd, Selly Oak.
The programme of Entertainments in the Parks 1953 was considered at the end of 1952 and it was suggested that Selly Oak Park might be brought back into the programme for a four week season – unfortunately the suggestion was not taken up.
There were three serious accidents in the park with patients being taken to hospital for treatment:
On 25th May, Keith Watson (5) injured his head when he fell from the gymnasium bars.
On 14th June, Tony Kensey (8) sustained a fracture to the base of his skull and lower jaw when he was crushed by a lorry at the Park entrance at the time of the Selly Oak Carnival.
On 17th October, David Stephens (14) fractured his right leg whilst playing Football.


Park Environment
The saga of the “Daughters of Rest” pavilion rumbled on.  But by March the Parks Committee had decided to recommend to the City Council that the desired pavilion be allowed in the Park and that their earlier “No” resolution be rescinded.  It is not totally clear (from my reading of the records) by what process that decision was reached!  By May it was reported that a site had “been selected from the point of view of accessibility to the major population centre of Selly Oak, the provision of a reasonable outlook for the old ladies, the non-interference with exiting amenities, and the comparative ease of service connections.”  Plans were approved, building regulations satisfied, and construction got underway, the project being funded by private subscription, so that there was no obligation on the Parks Committee or the City Council for the provision or the maintenance of the building.  The building consisted of a hall 16ft. wide x 40ft. long, with an 8ft. x 8ft.6in. kitchen, a 7ft. x 8ft. entrance lobby, and a cloakroom with lavatory accommodation.  The external lining of the hut was mainly Elm board; its roof was covered with mineralised rubberoid felt.  Its location, together with its comparatively large windows, was said to provide an outlook over very pleasant existing horticultural features.  The estimated cost of this work was £1,350, including electrical and water services and drainage.  The construction work was well on when it was declared (and reported at the beginning of October) that the site of the building was in close proximity to the line of the feeders from the Elan Valley water scheme and, according to the Water Department, infringed the limits within which a structure was not permitted to be erected.  Given the advanced stage of the work, and the fact that it would have cost approximately £200 to resite the building, the Water Department allowed the work to continue on the understanding that they would be indemnified by the City Council / Parks Department for any damage to their interests – a condition accepted - one suspects with not a little embarrassment!  Anyway, the official opening of the new pavilion took place at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 22nd October in the presence of 50 – 60 representatives of local associations and others who had helped provide the cost of the new building; tea being provided for the guests by the Parks Committee.
Permission was granted to the Post Office Telegraphs to place a Stay Post and associated wire stay in the border shrubbery on the Gibbins Road frontage to the park, required in connection with an existing telephone pole, situated at the corner of Frederick Road.
During the autumn a survey of the state of the tennis courts in the City parks was made.  Selly Oak Park was reported to have 5 grass courts, in poor condition through excessive wear. It was observed that “there will always be a demand for good quality grass tennis courts, as these give a combination of essential playing characteristics which are not found in any other type of court, but the overwhelming desire on the part of the players in the parks is for hard all-weather courts as these can be played on without much delay after wet weather, and also during the winter months”.  In deciding its policy for the tennis courts, the Parks Committee minuted its intention that, as and when financial circumstances permit, 2 of the grass courts at Selly Oak Park should be replaced by All-Weather Courts, with priority being given because tennis was “extremely popular” there.

When, at the beginning of the year, the 1953/54 budget was drawn up, an allowance was included for the following specific items for the Park:-  i) a new drain from the shelter to the lodge (£350); ii) repairs to the playground (£25); iii) 550 yd. of oak fencing for the canal side (£440); and then new equipment for the playground, iv) a Joy Wheel (£80); and v) a See-saw (£15).  However before the estimates were finally approved it became necessary to trim £70,000 from the total Parks Budget, and in order to do so the new drain (£350) and fencing (£440) fell victim and were deleted from the planned expenditure; happily remedial work to, and the new equipment for, the playground survived.

In September 1952 the Parks Department opened a new Training School at King’s Heath Park for their junior staff, and commenced an apprenticeship scheme (details of which can be found at; - when there, scroll down to March 1952 to begin reading about the Training Scheme).  Mr. R.P. Williams, a Gardener at Selly Oak Park was one of the first batch of employees to join the apprenticeship scheme.  There was an interim report produced in March 1953, and in it Mr. Williams was described as - “an excellent time keeper.  He has shown a keen interest in the subject of horticulture.  Keen to get all knowledge he can from the school.  When asked how he thought he had done in the terminal test, he replied “I think I shall come out alright, anyway I did my best, I could not have done better””.  Indeed, he did well in the test; he was ranked 6th in the class of 25 apprentices.  By November, when the first annual report of the college was produced, Mr. Williams was ranked 7th in the class and the comment against his name was:  “He is confident that he will make the grade.  He does not talk much about the school at the park.  This makes it difficult to assess his progress.”
The wages of Mr. L. Charlton, the Foreman, moved from £7. 4s. 10d. per week at 1st April 1952, through £7. 14s. 0d. sometime before the end of the financial year, and on to £7. 16s. 6d. from 1st April 1953.
According to earlier reports, Mr. J. Eagles had started work in the Park on 10th April 1950.  During 1953 there are three conflicting and confusing reports concerning him.  They state variously that i) on 27th April 1953 he commenced work as a Garden Boy “A” on a weekly wage of £4. 13s. 1d.; ii) on 11th April 1953 he resigned his post after 3 years of service; and iii) that it was on 16th June 1953 he resigned after 3 years of service!  We conclude that he left the Park after 3 years of service.
On 12th April, Mr. J. Knight (40) commenced work as a Garden Labourer on a weekly wage of £6. 6s. 0d.
On 29th April, Mr. A.G. Watts (28) resigned his post as a Gardener 2nd Class after 5 years of service.
On 8th May, Mr. H. Burgis (51) resigned his post as a Park Policeman after 5 months of service.
Mr. W. Abbey (a Propagating Gardener), Mr. F. Gibbs (a Gardener 1st Class) and Mr. J. Hughes (the Officer-in-charge at the Park) were on duty on Coronation Day (2nd June) for the fireworks display, and each was paid £1. 1s. 0d. (a guinea) as special remuneration for their services.
On 15th June, Mr. E.G. Hastings (20) commenced work as a Garden Labourer in the Park on a weekly wage of £6. 2s. 0d.
With effect from 26th June, Mr. T. Wall (49), a Gardener 2nd Class who had worked in the Park for three years, received two shillings per week Improved Service Pay.
During the year Mr. J. Hughes was called upon to act as a judge in the Municipal Tenants’ Gardens Competition, 1953, for which he was subsequently given an honorarium of £3.

Park use
At the end of 1952 planning for the Coronation Celebrations, on Coronation Day, 2nd June, 1953 (for Queen Elizabeth II), had already started.  Early in 1953 it was suggested that Selly Oak Park should be one of 20 Birmingham parks where a firework display should be staged; £50 being allocated for the fireworks; and as plans were firmed up during 1953, the Park did indeed get its firework display.  Firework displays were scheduled to take place at 10 p.m. – the normal closing time of the park in June – but it was agreed formally that where fireworks were held the parks would remain open until 11 p.m.
The City provided an extensive list of Coronation entertainments (especially for the children) for many of their parks, and a Punch & Judy show, by “Masco”, was scheduled for 4 p.m. in Selly Oak Park.
At the tail end of 1952 permission had been given for children’s parties and other activities in the Park on Coronation Day (see above), but still another request was approved – from the Falconhurst Rd. C.C., organised by Mr. A.R. Crowe, 44, Falconhurst Rd., Selly Oak.
The Selly Oak Carnival Committee sought permission to hold their 1953 Carnival in the Park on 4th July (later than in previous years, presumably because of the Coronation celebrations).  However that date was deemed unsuitable as it clashed with the Boy Scouts’ Rally arranged to take place at Handsworth Park on the same day!  In the end 15th August was allocated for the Selly Oak Carnival.  The Carnival Committee pressed for permission to include a full fair, hitherto not approved by the Parks Committee, only small scale side-shows having been allowed.  This time a decision was left with the Chairmen of the various Committees and Sub-Committees with powers to act; and later there was a report that they had dealt with the matter, but it doesn’t say how they did it, or whether a fair was allowed!  Carnival day turned out to be a very wet day, with only 5,000 attending – a considerably smaller number than in previous years.  (It also turned out to be the last occasion for several years that the Carnival wound its way to the park - in 1954 the event moved to Muntz Park, where amongst other things alcohol (not allowed at Selly Oak Park under the terms of the gift of the land back in 1899 / 1913 / 1919 / 1952) was permitted.)

Other Park uses included:-
On 1st June, by an unspecified Sunday School.

There were four serious accidents in the park with patients being taken to hospital for treatment:-
On 24th August, Arnold Brookes (15) sustained a suspected fracture of his left leg when he fell whilst playing leap frog.
On 4th September, Anthony O’Connor (14) fractured his left forearm whilst playing football.
And the very next day, on 5th September, Robert Hughes (18) dislocated his right shoulder, again whilst playing football.
On 2nd December, Michael Cain (11) fractured his left forearm whilst playing school football.


The Daughters of Rest Pavilion
Birmingham News, Saturday, 17th October 1953

(The following text accompanied this photograph in the Birmingham Mail on 23rd October 1953, under the heading:-)
 Carnival All Set
Before opening the new pavilion of Selly Oak Daughters of Rest in Selly Oak Park, Alderman A.F. Bradbeer (left), deputising for the Lord Mayor, receives the key of the building from the president of the Guild of Undergraduates of Birmingham University (Mr. D.M. Brittain).  Funds for the building of the pavilion came from the proceeds of the University Carnival. The ground was given by the Parks Department and furniture and decorations were given privately.  Also in the picture are Mrs. A.F. Bradbeer and (right) Mr. George Ross, general manager of the Parks Department.  A scheme to build the pavilion was started three years ago by the committee of the Daughters of Rest, who now number 200.


The Pavilion - 16th November 1953

Park Environment
Provision had been made in the annual estimates for a joy wheel and a see-saw to be added to the playground equipment, and Messrs J.J. Greig supplied the items (for £82. 10s. 0d. and £28. 12s. 0d. respectively).
In March another battle – which would last for a year (and give rise to more reams of print!) – began.  During the War the gates to Selly Oak Park were left open so that the general public could gain access to the Air Raid Precaution shelters which were constructed in the park.  At the conclusion of the War the gates were again closed at night time, but in October 1945, at the request of Councillor Dr. Haslam, arrangements were made for the gates at Corisande Road, Harborne Lane and Gibbins Road and the connecting pathways to be kept open for the convenience of people living on the Weoley Castle Estate to gain access to the various activities, work and transport links in Selly Oak.  The gates remained open until 1948 when they were closed for a few days but they were reopened at the request of the local residents who were supported by their local Councillors. The gates continued to be left open at night time and the path was used extensively all day and until late at night by persons living in the Corisande Road area who wished to get to and from Selly Oak.  The alternative route around the park was a much longer one (approximately 1000 yds. longer).  A certain amount of vandalism was taking place in the park after the official closing time, although the path was patrolled by the City Police after the hours of darkness.  Given the length of time that the park had remained open and had been in use, it was suggested that the Parks Committee may wish to safeguard its interests by preventing a right of way being established, either by closing the gates in question at the normal time of closing of the parks (which varied seasonally) or at least by closing the path on one day a year (i.e. Christmas Day).  After discussion, and with two Councillors dissenting, it was decided that the gates at the Park be closed at the normal time of closing for the park, with effect from 1st June.  This sparked a public outcry which gave rise to a petition, signed by 609 people, being presented to the City Council.  The Council referred the matter to their Parks Committee! – who referred it to their General Purposes and Finance Sub-Committee!!  The Sub-Committee and Parks Committee held their ground, and reported back their position to the City Council in November.  In the meantime costs were obtained for fencing the pathway across the Park and for lighting the path and/or whole Park.  The City Council put the matter back to the Parks Committee again.  Despite individual stances it was becoming clear – as the General Manager apparently anticipated and observed - that the Council’s intention was that the pathway should remain open as hitherto.  Face could be saved – there was no need to abandon the principle of closing parks at night.  The pathway could be fenced and gates provided in the fence in appropriate positions.  The open pathway could then be handed over to the Public Works Committee for use as a public footpath and the City Police could assume responsibility for patrolling it.  And as the year closed that is what the Parks Committee (reluctantly one senses) reported back to the City Council – the gates would be kept open assuming finance could be found for the fencing and lighting of the pathway leading from Corisande Road to Gibbins Road without delay, at an estimated cost of £1,325 for fencing and £930 for lighting, it being understood (still hanging on!!) that the pathway would not be opened beyond the normal hours of closing parks until the work had been completed.  More at the start of 1955 ......... (see below)
An advertisement was placed in the local Press inviting tenders for the privilege of operating with a mobile canteen in 13 parks and recreation grounds – including Selly Oak Park - at which there were no refreshment facilities but where it was considered desirable that refreshments should be provided.  Nobody tendered for the Park!
In 1935, six silver birch trees had been planted in the area adjacent to the shelter in the Park by the Selly Oak Girl Guides Association in commemoration of the Silver Jubilee of King George V.  By 1954 five of the trees had become top-heavy and badly shaped and after consultation with the Girl Guides Association they were removed, during the winter (1954/55), and replaced by young trees of a similar species.  It was arranged that the commemoration plaque should be moved to the base of the one remaining original tree.
As the Estimates were prepared for the financial year 1954/55 specific provision was made for the following items for the park – i) Tarpaving of paths to the “Daughters of Rest” Pavilion and the playground (£500); ii) a set of 3 oak gates for the main entrance (£50) (at this stage the park was fenced but there were no gates); iii) 350 yards of sawn oak fencing along the canal to safeguard children using park (£450); iv) playground equipment – a) a Joy Wheel (£71), b) an Ocean Wave (£77) and c) a Merry-Go-Round (£77) (to supplement the existing Swings, Whirling Platform and Parallel Bars which were declared “insufficient to meet needs of children”); v) 10 Pit Lights and Frames with heating to increase the scope of existing propagation (£50); and vi) the 2 Hard Tennis Courts which had been included in the priority list approved by the Parks Committee (£900).  However before the City’s parks budget was finalised a saving of £50,000 had to be made, and only the pit lights and frames (v) remained, the majority of the proposed provision was axed!
The Parks Committee had hoped to fund the provision of new tennis courts – not only the two at Selly Oak, but another 65 courts at 25 sites across the city – from revenue accounts.  With an estimated cost of £30,800 for the whole project, funding from revenue looked an unlikely proposition.  It was therefore agreed to seek consent to a loan for capital expenditure of £13,100 in order to move forward with a prioritised list of courts – and Selly Oak Park’s two courts (estimated cost £1,000) were included in the priority list.  However loan consent was not granted and the Parks Committee agreed a phased programme of (£13,000) provision from the revenue budgets over 7 years – and Selly Oak Park was placed at the top of the prioritised list (of 13 sites), with provision to be made for the two courts (£1,000) in the 1956/57 estimates.
With effect from 4th January, Mr. J.B. Herickx (18), a Garden Boy “A”, was moved onto the permanent staff.  However he resigned his post on 8th February after just over 3 years of service.
On 22nd February, Mr. A.G. Fryer (21) commenced work as a Garden Boy ‘B’ on a weekly wage of £5. 13s. 5d.  He quickly resigned this post - on 2nd April.
When Mr. J.E. Hughes was appointed park-keeper in June 1950 he “inherited” tenancy of the Park Lodge in Gibbins Road.  In March he was issued with a formal tenancy agreement.
On 12th March, Mr. E.G Hastings (20) resigned his post of Garden Labourer after only nine months of service.
On 21st April, Mr. B. Finch (18) resigned his post of Garden Boy “A” after two and a half years of service.
With effect from 17th May, Mr. J. Knight (41) a Garden Labourer employed at the Park since April 1953, was regraded to Gardener 2nd Class and his weekly wages were increased from £6. 6s. 0d. to £6. 13s. 0d.
Towards the end of the year a review and re-valuation was made of emoluments awarded to employees.  In the end the Parks Committee agreed not to apply suggested increases but maintain the status quo.  The following emolument details are recorded:-
  • The Lodge in Gibbins Road, occupied since the 7th July 1950 by Mr. Hughes, the park-keeper, was listed as worth £50. 0s. 0d. p.a. with an estimated (because they were shared supplies) electricity and gas consumption to the nearest 10/- to be worth £9. 0s. 0d. and £10. 0s. 0d. respectively, and coal to be worth £12. 10s. 0d., again all per annum.
  • The Lodge in Harborne Lane, occupied since the 17th June 1940 by Mr. Selibas, of the Trees in Streets Department, was listed as “rent free” with electricity, gas and coal being the responsibility of the tenant.

Park use
On 14th June, the Fire Service and City Police staged a combined display in the Park as their contribution to the Birmingham Festival of Entertainments.  The Police display consisted of a Musical Ride and was followed by a demonstration by the Fire Service of Fire Drill, etc., using 2 turntable ladders, 2 pumps, 1 pump escape, a specially erected drill tower of tubular scaffolding and a tank of water from which various jets were directed on to specific targets.  The Shirley Silver Band was engaged (at a cost of £21) to play during the event.
After a long [50 years] association with the Park, the Selly Oak Carnival moved to Muntz Park this year.  The Festival Committee appeared to be swayed in choice of venue by the ability to have alcohol at Muntz Park whereas it was prohibited at Selly Oak.
It had been a condition of the use of the Park that the Festival Committee submitted its accounts each year giving evidence of the distribution for charitable purposes of the profit.  By 1954 the 1952 accounts had still not been submitted and the Parks Committee had to demand their submission in order to approve the allocation to the various local causes.
When consideration was given to the “Entertainments in the Parks” programme for 1955 seven parks already had their places assured on the basis of previous attendances and success, and four parks - including Selly Oak Park – were suggested from which the eighth venue might be selected.  Of Selly Oak it was said - “This park has also had a Summer Theatre previously (Ed note: 1949 and 1950), and the time might be opportune to try a theatre there again.  This park is also in an area not having a Summer Theatre.”  Sadly Selly Oak was not selected.
There appeared to be just one serious accident in the park with the patient being taken to hospital for treatment:-
On 15th February, Mr. Arthur Betton (54) sustained lacerations to both hands when he was bitten by his own dog!

Park Environment
The story of the footpath across the park between Corisande Road and the Gibbins Road / Harborne Lane corner rolled into the new year with the proposals being put in place.  When approached, the Gibbins family (the original donors of the park) gave their approval to the arrangements proposed.  Mr. J.E. Turner supplied and erected 4’ 6” sawn oak fencing for both sides of the footpath for the sum of £1,034. 15s. 0d. – provision included two pairs of 12’ wide gates for the use of gang mowers and six hand gates for public use, situated at strategic points along the line of the path.  Arrangements were made to have the path adopted as a public footpath, but before the City Engineer & Surveyor would accept responsibility he required the path to be resurfaced with tarred limestone as prescribed for normal street works, i.e. having 2” consolidated limestone paving.  The existing surface had only 1” thickness, and whilst this was in comparatively good condition, a certain amount of making up at the verges was necessary where the paved surface had fretted away.  The cost of placing a further 1” layer on the existing surface, making good to haunches and general placing of the path surface in a satisfactory condition, was estimated at approximately £600.  The work was ordered post haste using surplus funds in the revenue budget.  Approval was also given for laying an underground electric cable for supplying nine lighting points along the line of the path, the lamp standards being at a height of 15’ above ground, and of cast-iron construction.  The installation by the Public Lighting Department, in conjunction with the Midlands Electricity Board, cost £600.  Finally on the night of 7th March, with all the work complete (apart from the resurfacing work which was delayed by bad weather), the footpath was left open to the public.  At their meeting on 17th March 1955 the Public Works Committee agreed that this footpath should be declared a highway repairable by the inhabitants at large.  On 5th April 1955 the City Council were formally notified that the footpath had been re-opened to the public.  The saga was almost complete.  In July it was finally reported that the outstanding resurfacing work (costing £316. 0s. 10d.) had been completed; Norman W. Dunn & Co. Ltd. had carried out the work as an extension to the existing contact the company had with the Parks Department for such work at other parks across the city.
Car parking was permitted in the Park for the convenience of visitors for the first time - 50 yards run on the main drive from the Gibbins Road entrance was allocated – no parking fees were charged and no supervision of any kind was exercised by the Department’s employees.
The provision of public lavatories and ablution facilities came under review early in the year.  Selly Oak Park was identified as one of 15 sites where ablution facilities were desirable (to serve the four pitches identified at the Park).  However the Park does not appear in the subsequent list for prioritised provision for the financial year 1955/56.
An advertisement was placed in the local Press inviting tenders for the privilege of operating with a mobile canteen in 12 parks and recreation grounds – including Selly Oak Park - at which there were no refreshment facilities but where it was considered desirable that refreshments should be provided.  Vincent’s Ices Ltd., of 9, Heathfield Road, Birmingham 14, tendered to operate in Selly Oak Park and was granted the privilege for the summer season from 1st May for a fee of 10 shillings per week.
The Daughters of Rest were by this time meeting in their shelter where an area of 995 square feet was available to them.  Up until this time the shelters and rooms made available in the parks were, by custom, used only by the members of the Sons of Rest and Daughters of Rest movements; whereas the legally delegated powers under which the Parks Committee operated did not give them liberty to exclude the public and grant exclusive use to any group.  However during 1955 exclusive use of the various venues was granted to the Sons and Daughters of Rest – and plaques declaring this newly agreed status were prepared and displayed at all the sites.
As the Estimates were prepared for the financial year 1955/56 specific provision was made for the following items for the Park – i) tar-spraying and repairs to paths (£80) (“normal maintenance”); ii) tarmacadam surfacing of the path from the canal bridge to the “Daughters of Rest” Pavilion (£250) (“to replace existing rough ash path”); iii) surfacing of the playground and its extension (£300) (to replace the temporary ash and defective surfaces”); iv) 140 yards of 5ft. sawn oak fence for the western boundary (£160) (“replacement of dilapidated fence to prevent trespass”); v) repairs to the existing fence on the south western boundary (£50) (“replacement of dilapidated fence to prevent trespass”); vi) a 40’ x 12’ greenhouse with heated frames (£500); vii) 6 pit lights and frames, 6’ x 4’ (£45).  However before the City’s total parks budget was finalised a saving of £90,141 had to be made, and the last three items were deleted.
We subsequently learn that 130 yards of fencing for the western boundary of the park was provided by Messrs. J.E. Turner, 309 Cooks Lane, Birmingham 33, for £151. 16s. 0d.
During the year the following specific purchases for the Park were also made:-
  • 323 collared pipes and junctions for drainage in the Park were bought from W.T. Burden, Ltd., Birmingham for £53.14s.7d.
  • 27 gully grids and frames for new drainage were bought from the City Transport Department for £63. 18s. 9d.
With effect from 7th March, Mr. C.W. Richards (50), a Park Policeman, employed since May 1953, was transferred to the permanent staff.
Following the annual review of salaries of those in the senior grades, with effect from 1st April, Mr. J.E. Hughes, the Officer in Charge, was regraded to Miscellaneous Grade V (£530-£590) at a point earning £560 p.a.
With effect from 10th October, Mr. S. Glover (30), a Garden Labourer employed at the Park since July, was regraded to Gardener 2nd Class and his weekly wages were increased from £7. 12s. 0d. to £7. 19s. 4d.
At the end of the year the exam success of those studying in the Training School was reported.  Mr. D.J. Brown, an Apprentice Gardener at Selly Oak Park, obtained the Junior Certificate of the Royal Horticultural Society, which earned him an extra 5/- per week.
Mr. J. E. Hughes, the Park Superintendent, was one of 18 judges appointed from the Parks Department staff for the Municipal Tenants’ Gardens Competition 1955, and he was allowed to retain the honorarium of £3 received from the Housing Management Committee for his assistance.
In November, it was reported that Mr. J.E Hughes was one of only four members of the City’s park staff who applied for the post of Officer-in-Charge at Handsworth Park.  The interviewing committee “were disappointed and seriously concerned with the poor response to the advertisement and with the general experience, seniority and stature of the candidates, and they felt unanimously that they could not make any recommendation” for an appointment at such a prestigious park where the City of Birmingham Show was held each year, a park second only to Cannon Hill Park, the premier park.
Park use
There is a passing reference to a Police and Fire display being held freely in the Park again as part of the Birmingham Festival of Entertainments.  Presumably this was similar to the event held in 1954.
There were several serious accidents in the park with the patients being taken to hospital for treatment:-
On 30th May, Kathleen Hines (4) cut her right ear and sustained abrasions to her right leg when she was struck by a swing in motion.
On 21st August, and in similar circumstances, Peter Wadden (3) sustained a cut over his right eye when he too was struck by a swing in motion.
On 4th November, Paul Benson (13) fractured his right forearm whilst playing football. 

Park Environment
The city’s Welfare Committee accepted responsibility for the costs of heating, lighting and cleaning all the “Sons of Rest” and “Daughters of Rest” shelters, with effect from the 1st April, 1956.  However, the “Daughters of Rest” Society had been responsible for the cost of heating, lighting and water at the “Daughters of Rest” shelter in Selly Oak Park since its official opening on the 22nd October, 1953.  It was suggested and agreed, that those arrangements should be continued.  The shelter was heated by an open coal fire, supplemented by electric fires, and the coal was purchased by the Society direct.  The Midlands Electricity Board rendered their account for electricity consumed direct to the Society’s Treasurer; no gas was installed.  The water service to the shelter was combined with a point used for park purposes, and a fixed charge of £1. 5s. 0d. per quarter was made by the City Treasurer for water consumed.  The Staff at Selly Oak Park cleaned the windows of the shelter and also lit the fires daily, but up until this point the time engaged on these duties was not charged to the Society; however from 1st April, 1956 the situation changed and the service was coded on time-sheets and charged to the Society.  The question of the maintenance of the fabric of the building had never been made absolutely clear, but as the shelter was handed over to the Corporation at the official opening ceremony, it was now agreed that the Parks Committee should be responsible for its maintenance as in the case of other “Sons of Rest” shelters.
Back in 1948 the exercising of dogs off a leash, up to 10 o’clock in the mornings and for one hour before park closing time, was sanctioned at Selly Oak Park but only in the area adjoining the canal.  In 1956 it was decided that the areas set aside in the parks for this purpose should be indicated by a suitably worded notice showing the extent of the area where dog exercise was permitted and emphasising the necessity of the dogs being under control, in accordance with the terms of the Bye-laws.
During the 2nd World War, an underground Report and Control Centre had been established in the Park.  In January, 1952, the Parks Committee concurred with the proposal to bring the Civil Defence Centres at various sites back into use, and for the sites to be enclosed with sawn oak fencing at the expense of the Civil Defence Committee.  Now the Civil Defence Committee sought to carry out drainage work around the existing underground Report and Control Centres with a view to using the buildings as lecture rooms for local Civil Defence personnel, so avoiding the expense of providing new training premises.  Upon receiving this request, and in order to inform their decision, the Parks Committee enquired of the Civil Defence Committee regarding their long term intentions, but there was no subsequent report of an answer or of the work being sanctioned.
An advertisement was placed in the local Press inviting tenders for the privilege of operating with a mobile canteen in 9 parks and recreation grounds – including Selly Oak Park - at which there were no refreshment facilities but where it was considered desirable that refreshments should be provided. Initially there was no tender forthcoming for Selly Oak Park.  Subsequently Mr. H. Hinman, 108, Abbeyfield Road, Erdington, Birmingham 23 tendered for, and was granted, the privilege of operating a mobile canteen for the summer season from 19th May at a weekly rental of 10/-.
An area of land, comprising 1,312 square yards or thereabouts, at the junction of Gibbins Road and Harborne Lane, in the ownership of the Public Works Committee, and which for some years had been used by the City Transport Department for the storage of salt and grit for roads, became surplus to requirements because arrangements had been made for the bulk storage of these materials at Public Works depots.  The area was already town planned for public open space purposes and so the City Engineer & Surveyor offered it to the Parks Committee.  The land was contiguous to the eastern boundary of the park and it seemed to offer suitable facilities for car parking.  It was noted that existing parking was allocated adjoining the eastern verge of the main drive where approximately 20-30 vehicles had to be accommodated on occasions during a week-end, and so an alternative space would be an obvious advantage.  It was also considered that certain horticultural features could be introduced to improve the general appearance of the site.  And so the Parks Committee agreed to accept responsibility for the site and the formal transfer of ownership was completed.
As the Estimates were prepared for the financial year 1956/57 specific provision was made for the following items for the Park (some of which will be seen to be deletions from previous years!) – i) surface repairs to the existing playground (£250); ii) surfacing of the path from the canal bridge to the “Daughters of Rest” pavilion (£300); iii) 5’ sawn oak gates at the main entrance, Gibbins Road (£45) (replacement of existing temporary gates); iv) 5’ sawn oak fence for the canal boundary (£450) (replacement of dilapidated chestnut fencing); v) repairs to the oak pale boundary fence on the south side of Corisande Road (£50) (replacement of missing and broken timbers, and providing godfathers where necessary); vi) 6 concrete frames 6’ x 4’ (£50) (replacement of old and dilapidated brick frames).  An item which had been considered and was subsequently deleted was 50 yards of 4’ sawn oak fencing around a circular shrubbery (£55) (protection of shrubbery).  However before the City’s total parks budget was finalised a saving of £109,930 had to be made, and items i), ii), iii), iv), and vi) were deleted.
Properties throughout the country were re-valued for general rating purposes under the provisions of the Local Government Act, 1948, and the revised assessments became effective on the 1st April, 1956.  The Rating Valuation for the Lodge, Harborne Lane (occupied by the Assistant Forester, Trees-in-Streets Depot, upon a rent free basis) had been Gross value £15, Rateable value £9 with a rate levied at 25/- in £ of £10. 2s. 6d.  Under the new provisions the Gross value became £22, the Rateable value £15, and the Rate levied at 18/6d. in £ was £12. 9s. 9d.
Like many other park situations in the City, the Lodge in Gibbins Road was occupied by the park-keeper whose benefits included the cost of the gas and electricity used in the lodge.  Up until this point in time the utilities were supplied on a combined basis – fuels being used both in the lodge and for other parks uses.  The time had come to separately meter the supplies and in making the necessary arrangements for their separation, we learn that electricity was used not only in the lodge, but in the “offices, potting shed, (and) messroom”, and gas was used in the lodge and the messroom.  The cost for separating the supplies was £5. 17s. 0d. for the electricity and £2. 7s. 6d. for the gas.
With effect from 2nd March, Mr. J.A.R. Eagles (21), a Gardener 2nd Class employed since April 1950, was awarded 2/- per week Improved Service Pay.
With effect from 3rd May, Mr. C.W. Richards (52), a Parks Policeman employed since May 1953, was awarded 2/- per week Improved Service Pay.
With effect from 7th July, Mr. E.W. Connard (19), an Apprentice Gardener employed since September 1952, and Mr. S. Glover (31), a Gardener 2nd Class employed since July 1955, were transferred to the permanent staff.
With effect from 15th August, Mr. A.J. Grace (21), an Apprentice Gardener employed since September 1952, earning £8. 6s. 11d. per week was regraded to Gardener 2nd Class and his weekly wage increased to £8. 10s. 4d.  From the same date he was also awarded 2/- per week Improved Service Pay.  In July it had been reported that Mr. Grace had been called up for service in H.M. Forces after three years seven months service with the Department.
With effect from 4th September, Mr. H.C. Ray (60), a Gardener 2nd Class employed since September 1950, was awarded 2/- per week Improved Service Pay.
Park use
There were several serious accidents in the park with the patients being taken to hospital for treatment:-
On 3rd March, Robert Stanley (24) sustained a suspected broken right ankle when he collided with another player at football.
On 9th June, George Cornelius (29) sustained severe bruising to his right ribs when he was hit by a cricket ball.
On 10th June, Mrs. Key collapsed through natural causes.
On 1st September, George Lane (20) sustained a back injury and concussion whilst playing football.
Under construction - see Clippings meanwhile 


Don Hughes commented on 9 May 2014:-

"Year round football practice every Saturday morning 1959-1961. When organizing a full match the pitch cost 10 shillings to hire."