The land on which the town’s main park now resides was originally owned by the Church Commissioners, who rented it for grazing and market gardening. I know this as the council has helpfully placed signs up around the park giving a history of the site.
The park opened in 1869 and the Town Corporation purchased the land at a cost of £2,000. This thrilled the local population who had to pay a penny on their rates for thirty years to fund the purchase, and over 100 ratepayers complained about the cost.
There was apparently a bowling green here, before they planted a grass maze on it. Note the size of the park is nineteen acres, but seemingly they couldn’t think where to put a grass maze other than on a bowling green. Bored by that idea, they’ve now turned the area into an orchard. The aim is that residents can wander through the apple trees and pick themselves an apple. It’s a shame Greggs can’t do something similar with chicken bakes…
Further information about the apple project.
This is the Richard Young memorial, which is at the northern end of the park. He was a Member of Parliament for Cambridgeshire between 1865 and 1868, and he was also the Mayor of the town from 1858 until 1863. Hansard reports that Richard Young made one verbal contribution during his time in the House of Commons. This is the report of his comments:
“Richard Young, who had returned to the House, said, he had thought his presence unnecessary”.
It’s not exactly Disraeli is it?
Here’s the inscription on the memorial.
The bandstand was opened in 1908 at a cost of just under £100. It was restored in 2017 at a cost of over £60,000, which sounds rather expensive to me, but some was spent on a new thief-proof roof. I’m not sure that anyone had pinched the previous one though.
A view over the park.
The sign notes that this area of the park was “a magnet for anti-social behaviour”, so work was completed by volunteers (and some perhaps slightly less than volunteering members of the community payback scheme) and it is a much nicer area now. They’ve also created an “insect hotel” which I hope doesn’t encourage any snakes to move in.