Queen's Park

History:1900 to 1960

By Andrew Bradstreet

Before the First World War the park appears to have been extremely well looked after by the council. In 1909 the large bowling green was established, the first playground was created in 1911 and by 1914 a croquet lawn and the current tennis courts were constructed.  The First World War left the park unscarred and between the Wars it was, by all accounts, a wonderful place to visit with The Clock Tower being added in 1912.

Effects of World War II
The Second World War had much more effect on the Park. By July 1939 two air raid shelters were built and most of the railings were cut down to help in the war effort. Also the top of the stream was filled in leaving only the stretch there is today. The Park escaped any bombing but the lake did get a bashing from the military vehicles that ran through it to see if they were waterproof. This is what many people regard as the cause of the leaks that the lake later suffered.

A picture of neglect in the 1960s
After the War the park started to suffer from a mixture of neglect and vandalism. By the 1960s many people felt it was being over-run by dogs and that it was no longer a safe place to be at night.

This page was added on 22/03/2006.
Comments about this page

There are incidents of which I was involved in during the WW11 era. Firstly I went to the park one day only to find that the playground was being pulled apart and all the swings and chutes were being removed and placed on the ground behind the playground. I stood there watching the trees and bushes being removed between the pond and the play ground, shortly after this trucks and tanks started crossing the pond from the other side of the pond from the playground,turning around in the playground and doing the return trip.They were then parked under the trees near the lower West Drive entrance. My encounter with near death at Queens Park occurred on the Clock Tower. My Auntie Glad 15 years old was taking us me, my sister Pat, and our baby sister Carol for a visit to the park.We were sitting on the grass on the Clock Tower slop. All of a sudden the siren went off, we started to pick up our blank on the ground, when we heard the German aircraft over head. We had no chance to run to any shelter under the trees. The air raid warden shouted through a mega phone telling us to stay where we were. My auntie Glad put the blanket over us as we lay on the grass. I heard thumps in the ground around us, I peeped out from under the blanket to see the aircraft above us spitting fire at us. After it went over, two Spitfires came over chasing this German plane.The air raid wardens rushed out and grabbed us all in their arms and run to the shelters in the ground under the trees.The vision of this event has never left me to this day.

By Ray Stoner (25/09/2011)

I remember that in the forties there were litle rowing boats that you could hire and row round the pond and at the back end of the park, St Luke's Terrace still had the tall cast iron railings round it. I was nine to eleven years old, so they were still there after the war, What fun we had on the swings etc, especially the 4 tier roudabout that held twenty odd kids. The health and safety brigade would go nuts today; grazed knees, cut elbows - who cared!!

By HARRY ATKINS (12/07/2012)

I remember those little boats. At one time I was told that I was thinking of another park but I know my cousin took some of us out for a row on Queen's Park pond. We used to take our home-made nets and catch tadpoles from the side of the pond. The swings were on concrete and when my cousin fell from one and hit her head, she was taken to hospital and kept overnight with concussion. This wasn't long after the war. Summer holidays were spent at the park until the beaches were safe. Then we had the choice of beach or park. No adults. They were at work and we were all still young. Under 10.

By Iris Gilman (13/07/2012)

Hi Iris, glad you remember the boats, not many people do. I even remember the colour blue. There were loads of newts and efts on the sides of the ponds and in the stream that ran down into the pond. I lived in Lavender Street and went to St. Mary's. Were you local?

By harry atkins (15/07/2012)

Hi Harry. I was born in Brighton and lived in Lennox Street. Queen's Park was our playground for the school holidays. Also Tarner park. I went to Queen's Park Infants during the war years and then Finsbury Road. Our local church was St John the Evangelist. Am now living in the US.

By Iris Gilman (18/07/2012)

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