Thursday, 9 August 2012

There's nothing like a lovely park!;-)

On Saturday, we found ourselves in a lovely park, in the town where I live:

Courtenay Park.

This prompted me to do a bit of research and find out more

about these beautiful surroundings.


Following the arrival of the South Devon Railway in 1846, William Courtenay, Earl of Devon, planned to develop land to the west of Newton Abbot railway station, into a park. 
The site comprised of three fields: one for turnips and two for pasture, with no buildings or structures being recorded

Thus Courtenay Park was laid out in 1854 and the people of Newton Abbot
have been able to enjoy this park, ever since.

The park was enclosed by iron railings with ornate gates at the entrances. 
It is thought that the fishpond was probably constructed at the same time and
this was embellished by elaborately decorated urns at each of the four corners. 
Matching urns were also provided at the main entrance

Below is a photo of the park entrance, taken in 1906.

In 1858, Courtenay Park Road was laid around the perimeter of the park. 

Detached and semi-detached villas were constructed in a mix of Italianate,
 Tudor Gothic and Tudor Picturesque styles, numbers 1-29 being grade ll listed.
 The adjoining Devon Square is of the same date and of the Italianate style.

Here are some of these delightful properties :

In 1866, The Earl of Devon offered the park to the town council, on a 21 year lease, which was renewed in 1887 for 10 years. When this expired in 1897, Courtenay Park and other sites in Newton Abbot were sold to the town council by the Earl of Devon .

The fish pond then... and now.

The construction of the bandstand commenced at around 1911, with a changing room and store provided underneath. Prior to the First World War, the 5th  Devon Volunteers Band gave regular concerts on Thursday and Sunday evenings during the summer.
Concerts were also given by the Newton Abbot Military Band and the Salvation Army Band.

The bowling green was laid out commencing the formation of
 Newton Abbot Bowling Club in 1911.

A lamp standard was provided in the middle of the park and there was also a collection box for the RNLI but this was removed before the commencement of the Second World War.
A park constable was responsible for security within the park and locked the gates at night, unlocking in the morning! This service ceased at the onset of war in 1939 when all the railings and gates were removed for the war effort.

It was proposed in 1920 to construct a war memorial in Courtenay Park to commemorate those who died in action during the First World War. However, it was decided that a location at the top of The Avenue,Newton Abbot, was more appropriate.
In 1937, the coronation of King George VI was honoured with dancing, including a furry dance, in Courtenay Park. 

As already mentioned, the ornamental fencing and gates were removed at the onset of the Second World War. 

At the same time, bomb shelters were constructed because Newton Abbot was a frequent target for enemy bombers. Many of these raids were of a random nature as a result of German pilots mistaking the River Teign for the River Exe, the intended target being Exeter, or opting for a softer target to drop the bombs. 

However, it is said that German Intelligence learned that the town's locomotive and carriage works were contributing to the war effort, with the construction of components for aircraft and armour. Subsequently, on the 20th August 1940, a bombing raid targeting the railway facilities caused severe damage to the station and buildings in the town. Sadly, there were 
many casualties as a train had just arrived at the station.

Railway track and other debris fell in Courtenay Park narrowly missing people walking there For many years, debris, shrapnel and bullet cases from a pursuing Hurricane could be found in the Parks shrub and flower beds. One bomb shelter still exists adjacent to the Bowling Club.

My mum and dad were both fairly near to the park on this particular day and they have often told me about this frightening experience. 

Queen Elizabeth ll arrived at Newton Abbot Station on July 1st 1952 on her way to the Devon County Show which was held at Stover. The Queen inspected a Guard of Honour of 150 Sea, Army and Air Force Cadets in Courtenay Park and an estimated crowd of 6000 people were there to greet the new monarch. 

Queen Elizabeth was making her first public appearance in the West Country since her accession and it was also the first visit of a reigning monarch to Newton Abbot since King Charles l in 1625.

One of my favourite places in Newton Abbot, is Courtenay Park. Indeed, Newton Abbot is blessed with a number of parks but this park is certainly very special to me.

 I took my first steps in Courtenay Park!

 My mum was in complete despair as, at the age of 18 months, I JUST would not walk
 ( To make up for this, I was a very early talker and no doubt gave her constant earache!). 

 Courtenay Park was our ‘garden’, so to speak,  it being so close to where we lived.
 As we had only a tiny back yard, I spent many a happy afternoon in the park.

This could easily be my mum and I in the picture below!

On a sunny August day, it just so happened that the band was playing in the
 bandstand and hey ho, to her amazement, up I stood and I started to walk
 towards the band. I have loved town parks ever since that day and the sight of a
band playing in a bandstand even more so.

Nowadays, the town takes a big pride in Courtenay Park. 

The Parks department always works hard to put on a show throughout the year and when you step off the train, you can't fail to glance across to the park and notice the lovely
floral displays. 
What a welcome!

And that's not all!

A sensory garden was created in 1993 and refurbished in 2010. 
This was originally the idea of partially-sighted former service-man, Cpt. Richard Bingley, who helped raise fund for it in the early 1990s. It was developed as a place of tranquillity for blind and disabled people.  
The garden features different beds of plants designed to stimulate the senses. It includes the smells of Sweet Box (Sarcococca humilis), the sounds of Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica), the texture of New Zealand Flax (Phormium Jester) and even the taste of Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Often used by schools for visits and by local disability groups, the sensory garden is a popular part of the Green Flag Award winning park.

Its flowers, shrubs and other plants have all been selected for their aroma, texture and the sound that they make in the wind. The beds have also been raised to make them accessible to people in wheelchairs

All in all, Courtenay Park offers eight acres of interest and loveliness:

Pretty, floral displays; a fish pond with water lilies and a fountain; a sensory garden;
a bandstand ; a bowling green ; a stunning variety of trees; places to stop awhile so that you can sit and watch the world go by; a children's playground and not forgetting some lovely buildings which watch over it and remind us of times gone by. 

And so...

Thank you William Courtenay!

If only you knew what pleasure you have given to so many!


Anonymous said...

Ah! Now about this constant earache

KC'sCourt! said...

I too was an early talker - late walker!
The park looks lovely
Julie xxxx

galant said...

I was a late walker, too, Sal. I was almost 2 before I walked. But talked very early on! And have been continuing to do so ever since!
I, too, love Courtenay Park, it's always immaculate, and how lovely to see those old photos. Thank you so much for this excellent post!
Margaret P