A Brief History of this Ward
The need for a public park in Grimsby had been promoted from around 1860 and in 1869 the initiative was formalised in the ‘Great Grimsby Improvement Act’. This empowered the council to put aside part of the Grimsby West Marsh Area for a public park. By about 1875 the land had been appropriated for other projects including the construction of a hospital and board school. At the end of 1881, after years of controversy and debate regarding potential sites and funding, it was agreed to accept an offer of 27 acres of land donated by local landowner and Liberal MP, First Baron Edward Heneage.
In 1882 the Council started to establish drainage and roads, and organised the planting of about 700 trees including roughly 120 elms, 240 limes, 120 sycamores, and 120 horse chestnuts. The trees were ordered and planted before the contract to lay out the grounds was awarded. Twenty-four designs were submitted and the winner, William Barron and Son of the Elvaston Nurseries, Derbyshire, was appointed in June 1882. William Barron named his design ‘Semper Paratus’ which means always ready.
The design was organised around a figure of eight circulation pattern. In the north the top loop contained the lake, mounds, and groups of tree and shrub planting which created a series of unfolding views as the visitor walked along the path. The south loop remained flatter and more open to provide the cricket pitch and other sporting and recreational facilities.
On 17th August 1883 People’s Park was opened by the Duke and Duchess of Connaught and Strathearn. For this occasion it was made a local public holiday. Temporary stands were erected in the park to enable the viewing of the royal family. Edward Heneage and his wife Eleanor Heneage hosted the opening ceremony. This included a presentation of gifts to the Duke and Duchess, trees were planted and music played throughout the day and continued well into the following day.
The site is located within an area of substantial villa housing which dates from 1890 to 1930. Welholme Road marks the park’s northern boundary, and the U-shaped Park Drive, designated as a private road when the park was opened, delineates the remainder of the park to the east, south, and west. The boundaries of the park are now almost totally open except for a fence and hedge which runs along the north-east boundary to protect the aviary and Floral Hall.
The park was used for the war effort as an allotment space and for concealing heavy artillery under the canopy of the trees. In addition the ornamental gates were demolished as part of the war effort in 1943.
The Floral Hall was opened on 29th May 1975 which contains temperate, tropical and cool areas, which replaced the original glass house that was erected in 1887.
People’s Park is a Green Heritage Site (Park of Special Historic Interest Grade II listed). The aim of Green Heritage Site status is to promote the value of and best practice in the care and upkeep of historic sites. The Smethurst Memorial is also Grade II listed.
Heritage Lottery Funding was secured to restore the Park to its original Victorian splendour and work totalling £2.7 million was completed in 2008.