Your Memories from Yesteryear

Beaumont Park of yesteryear:

I first saw Beaumont Park 87 years ago when my mother pushed me there in a pram.  Later I had a sister and as we grew up we would go walking in the park with our parents on Sunday afternoons. Signs everywhere asked us to “Please keep off the grass” and heaven help is if we happen to step on it. When we were old enough, we used to go and play in the park with other children. There were ducks on the pond which we could feed. We went so often they used to come and meet us.

In the middle of the pond were two islands. The ducks lived on the bigger one. The islands are still there, but are surrounded by grass not water. There was a bridge going over to the big island which you could cross but it had railings across so you couldn’t go onto the island. You can still see where the bridge used to be. When we were thirsty we’d go up to the grotto which is still there in an archway above the fountain. A spring came through there and attached by a chain was an enamel mug, much the worse for wear.

There used to be a big mountain ash tree at the end of the pond surrounded by rocks. It was always exciting and daring to clamber on these, hanging over the pond. Near the pond was a large shelter which has only recently been demolished.. At one end there was a door behind which gardeners implements were stored. The other end was a shop where on Sundays ice cream and sweets were sold. In various places there were slot machines where, for a penny, you could get a thin bar of Nestles chocolate. In the package were something like cigarette cards. You could send for an album to stick them in. We’d go to play by the “castle” - always a scary place - and where there were peacocks.

In a previous article (in the FoBP Newsletter) someone mentioned three trees from the Verdun - to my knowledge there were four and still are. At the bottom of each tree was a plaque saying they were from the Verdun battlefields and planted in 1919. I remember them when they were little more than saplings. There are two trees by the side of what used to be the pond. One of these also had a plaque saying it was planted in 1883 when the park was opened. I wonder what happened to those plaques. It would be nice to see them replaced. Before the war there were railings around the park. The gates were closed and locked every night by the park keeper and then opened next morning. There was a clock face on the wall of the lodge with the words “Park closes at”… and the hands moved to the appropriate time. During the war except in dangerous places, the railings were taken down and the gates removed to be made into munitions.

One Sunday morning, many years ago after we’d been to church, I walked through the park with my daughter who was then aged about three. I told her to look out for the lion down the main walk. It was sitting on a stone slab. She found it and when we got home she told her mum she had see a lion “ sitting on a matchbox”!”. It is still there, sitting on it’s matchbox.

Jack Merewood died in October 2007