In 1893 thoughts turned to the opening of a public park in Tipton, when the Local Board of Health formed a sub-committee to discuss the matter, after receiving a petition from 860 ratepayers. At the time nothing was done, but the idea didn’t go away.

In May 1897 a meeting was held at St. Martin’s School in Church Lane to decide what could be done to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. At the meeting, the Chairman, Daniel Hipkins, mentioned that a Tipton resident had offered to give a donation of £500 towards the building of a public park, providing that the remaining sum would come from public subscription.

Initially plans were made to purchase an area of land at the bottom of Upper Church Lane, but this fell through. At the time, 34 acres of derelict mining land alongside Victoria Road (then called Randle’s Lane) were for sale at a cost of £1,500. The land was soon acquired and reclamation work got underway. The site contained a number of mine shafts that had to be filled-in, as well as a large pit mound containing around 60,000 to 70,000 tons of spoil, which had to be removed. The spoil was used in the construction of several new roads and to fill-in a large marl hole in readiness for the building of houses.

Victoria Park in 1901.

In 1898, plans for the park were submitted by several contractors. The design chosen was produced by William Barron and Sons of Borrowash, Derbyshire. The firm gained a reputation as excellent landscape designers. The landscape work was carried out by T. Allsop of Tipton and the lodge (which no longer survives) was built by J. Gittings of Tipton. The fencing was provided by Hill and Smith of Brierley Hill and around 15,000 trees and shrubs were planted.

Several gifts were made for the park including the ornate drinking fountain that was given by Mr. and Mrs. G. M. Waring to commemorate their golden wedding. Mr. Waring was clerk to the Local Board of Health and the Urban District Council, for 42 years. A cast iron canopy called the ‘Umbrello’ was erected over the fountain. It was built to a design produced in 1860 by Walter Macfarlane & Company of Glasgow. Although the fountain was moved, the ‘Umbrello’ still stands. It has a domed top that is supported by eight columns with an arch between each column. Above each arch is a shield, ornamented with herons. One of the shields carries an inscription which records Mr. and Mrs. Waring’s donation. An anonymous donor provided funds for a children’s gymnasium and shelter, while others gave seats, a peacock, a peahen and two swans.

Victoria Park opened on 29th July, 1901 and was named in honour of Queen Victoria, who died on the 22nd January 1901. The park was built at a cost of £6,500. The park was opened by the Earl of Dartmouth on a beautiful summer’s day. The official procession to the park started at the old public offices in Owen Street and included the Earl of Dartmouth, escorted by a guard of honour from the rifle volunteers. There were mounted policemen, members of the Urban District Council, the mayors of Dudley, Wednesbury and West Bromwich, Mr. Walford Davis Green the local M.P. and the County Magistrates. Others included members of the School Board, the Tipton Rifle Volunteers, the Princes End Prize Band and the Dudley Port Band, Tipton Boys Brigade, members of the fire brigade, and members of local friendly societies.

Large numbers of people lined the streets to view the procession which stopped outside the park beside the entrance gates which had been decorated with an archway that carried the words 'Success to our Park'. After prayers had been given by the Vicar of Tipton, the Reverend T. Wilson de Vine, the Earl was presented with a gold key which he used to unlock a silver padlock on the gates before the party entered the park. The party then inspected the park and attended a luncheon that was held in a large marquee, erected on the cricket pitch.

An early view of the lake. From an old postcard.

At the northern end of the park is a bowling green that dates from the early 1900s. It provides crown green bowling for anyone over the age of 14. It is the home of Victoria Park (Tipton) Bowling Club.

A bandstand was erected in 1910 which survived until around 1960. In 1921 the War Memorial in the form of a pale granite obelisk above an inscribed grey granite tapered plinth, was unveiled by the Marquis of Cambridge on the 24th August, 1921. The memorial commemorates the local people who lost their lives in both World Wars.

The War Memorial. From an old postcard.

The unveiling ceremony. From an old postcard.

Another view of the unveiling ceremony. From an old postcard.

A view of the lake from the mid 1920s, with the war memorial and the bandstand behind.

The two storey park keeper's house dates from the early 1920s and a single storey refreshment pavilion with rough cast walls above an exposed brick plinth was built around 1930. A Sons of Rest shelter was built in the park in 1961 and the park was extended to the south west when properties in Park Lane West were demolished in the late 20th century.

The park is now very popular thanks to its children’s play areas, tennis courts, grass sports pitches, skate park, ornamental lake, and gym equipment.

Two other public buildings were constructed next to the park. The first is the Public Library, a gift from Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish born American historian and philanthropist, designed by George Wenyon and built in 1905. It opened in 1906 and closed in 2000. It reopened as Sandwell Council’s Occupational Health Unit and became the Tipton Carnegie Centre. The second is the Public baths designed by H. N. Woodard and built on the north western corner of the site in 1932.

A second view of the lake. From an old postcard.

The lake in the 1930s.

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