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History of Queen's Park

History of Queen's Park

The following has been adapted from the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.  

Historic development

Alderman T P Wood, Mayor of Chesterfield in 1886, proposed that land should be acquired by the Local Board for the creation of a public park to mark Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887, and to ameliorate the overcrowded conditions in the centre of the town (Wright 1992). Alderman Wood donated £500, and some £3500 was raised to purchase some 17 acres (about 7 hectares) known as Maynard's Meadows to the south of the town from E A J Maynard of West House, Chesterfield.

The site was dedicated at a ceremony on 21 September 1887 which comprised a procession of industrial tableaux and the planting of a tree on the site of the park. Alderman Wood was created a Freeman of the Borough in November 1887, at which time money raised for a presentation silver casket was instead applied, at the Alderman's request, to the provision of a bandstand in Queen's Park. An additional 5 acres (about 2 hectares) were purchased for incorporation into the park in October 1889, the necessary funds being raised by a Ladies' Bazaar Committee. This acquisition completed the site of the original park, and in the same year the site was enclosed by a stone wall. Money subscribed for the purchase of the park did not provide for the laying out of the site for public use.

The Local Government Board expressed reservations about the original estimate of £3500 submitted in 1888, and agreement on a modified scheme costing £2500 was only reached in 1892. Implementation of this scheme, which had been drawn up by William Barron and Sons of Borrowash, Derbyshire, was funded by a mortgage raised with the Yorkshire Penny Bank. Queen's Park with its curvilinear walks which describe areas containing a lake, cricket pitch, and lawns or football pitch closely resembles the plan produced by William Barron and Sons for Victoria Park, Tipton, West Midlands in 1898-1901.

Official opening to World War I

Queen's Park was officially opened to the public on 2 August 1893 with the first Chesterfield Floral and Horticultural Society Show being held in the park. A cricket pitch constructed in 1893-18944 was inaugurated in May 1894, while the associated pavilion was constructed in 1898. Late 19th century park facilities included a bandstand, boating lake, cycle track and gymnasium; plans for public baths were not implemented.

In 1901 a further 13 acres (about 5.5 hectares), separated from the original park by Boythorpe Avenue to the south, was acquired by the town as a memorial to Queen Victoria (d 1901). This land (outside the site here registered) was laid out as a recreation ground known as Queen's Park Annex.

A statue of 'The Girl with the Stolen Rose' by a local sculptor, Herbert Lee, was presented to the park in 1909 and, in the years before the First World War, the park was used for regular fetes and events such as the Coronation parade in 1910.

Post-World War I

Following the First World War a tank was presented to the town and placed in the park in July 1919. A programme of renovations and improvements was undertaken in the early 1920s which included the construction of a new bandstand and the erection of a conservatory acquired from Chatsworth House, Derbyshire. Plans for a refreshment pavilion were submitted by Clifford Bond and the Borough Surveyor in 1939.

World War II to modern day

During the Second World War the park was used by the local authority for events associated with the 'Holidays at Home' scheme, while in 1943 metal railings round the cricket pitch were removed for the war effort; the conservatory was converted to food production.

A further programme of renovation was undertaken in the early 1950s, while the London, Midland and Scottish railway line which formed the northern boundary of the site closed in the mid 20th century.

In the mid- and late-20th century, a sports centre was constructed within the park adjacent to its western boundary.

Last updated on 12 May 2017