The park in the past
This is where we want to share photos and stories about Victoria Park in the past. We are starting off with some old photographs and illustrations which show parts of Victoria Park as it used to be. We are not sure of dates, or even precise locations for some of them, so tell us what you think using the Get in Touch menu.
If you have any particular memories of the park why not let us know and we will add them here. Did you meet your husband or wife on the park, did something happen on the park which changed your life – for better, or for worse? It would be great to tell some of the history of the park through your memories because that’s what makes the park into a real living place.
When the site is established we will look into having open comments on these pages but until then you can use the Get in Touch facility.
The Old Pavilion
The old pavilion is probably the most photographed or illustrated feature of the park in the past so it’s a good place to start.
The old pavilion was situated roughly where the sports facilities are now. The avenue to the left of the pavilion above would go to the main park gates on London Road. Further to the left it is just possible to see what is now called the coach drive. To the right the pavilion faces into the park.
This picture is of the rear of the pavilion. An area of hard-standing can be seen at the rear extending round the side to the front. This can be seen more clearly in the next picture which shows the front of the pavilion sometime around the turn of the century.
We don’t know what the event is but it looks like something big on the park. The old grandstand seating on the roof is still there, full of people, and everyone looks pretty smart. It’s ten minutes to one on the clock and there appears to be a queue to get in to the right. Could it be luncheon in the pavilion? To the left they don’t look so smart and in the background some prams and what might be governesses in uniforms can be seen. Perhaps the servants didn’t get to eat. The board across the balcony says ‘Little Child’, but nothing to indicate what this means. If anyone can tell us more about this picture and what the event might be please let us know.
The front of the old pavilion can be seen again in this picture but at a far less busy time. The large area of hard-standing can be seen more clearly as one family are on their way out with hardly another soul in sight. Of particular interest in this picture is the bandstand to the left at the edge of the hard-standing. This picture provides the perspective for the next picture of an event on the park.
This picture would have been taken with the photographers back facing towards the centre of the park with Victoria Park Road a long way behind. The park gates would be where there is the gap in the trees with the high buildings behind being the corner of London Road and Evington Road.
We don’t know what the event is, and it’s tempting to think it’s the same one as the previous photo, but it looks as though it might be a little later. It’s clearly a family day out with a pram to the left before the bandstand, and what may be another one to the right – the wheel can be seen quite clearly. It may be something else, though. The wheels, another behind it can just be made out, look too big for a pram, and is that a barrel between them? The man next to it, to the left of the four ladies on the bench, is wearing a flat cap so maybe he’s selling cups of tea, or something else which comes in a barrel!
There is a clue to the event in the bandstand. It is just possible to make out (when magnified) one person standing and others seated in the bandstand, and it is also the focus of attention. Probably the event is the band playing in the bandstand, which was a regular and popular feature of parks during the period in which this photo was taken. There probably wasn’t a lot else to do on a Sunday afternoon.
The bandstand was obviously quite a feature of the park and would attract crowds whenever there was a band doing a gig, as you might say, but they wouldn’t have, so let’s take a closer look at it below where we can see a brass band in action.
Could this be the same event as the previous photo showed? Again, hard to tell. It looks about the same period, but there are lots of empty seats and the park looked quite crowded in the other one. Looking closer there are lots of people on the other side of the bandstand, so it’s more crowded than than it at first appears. Perhaps you had to pay for a seat, but could stand and listen for free. It appears that there is a traditional park iron railing with a hooped top surrounding the bandstand itself with seats and benches arranged outside the fence and around the bandstand. At the time the park itself was fenced around with railings of the same style, and they can still be seen today around the triangle park in St. Mary’s Road, just across Victoria Park Road. Whether they are the original ones is not known. It would seem strange if the main park was stripped of railings during the war, but the triangle park wasn’t.
All the things hanging from the bandstand are a puzzle. It’s just possible to see them, or some of them, in the previous photo. Are they Christmas decorations? Or some other event? Again. we may never know, but they do make the bandstand look great. It’s a shame it’s gone now, and a replacement was a very popular choice when we asked people what they wanted on the park. It is said this bandstand is now on Abbey Park, but we are not sure if this is the case. If it is, it was probably moved after the pavilion was damaged by a bomb, and subsequently demolished.
That’s enough on the pavilion and bandstand, but don’t miss the other pictures of the park in the past as we add them to the site, and don’t forget to let us have any stories or information about the park in the past. Any old photos you have would be even better.