Historic Dudley park to mark 100 years with celebration

A park described by locals as 'a green oasis' in Dudley is set to celebrate its centenary later this year.

Park volunteers Graeme Forbes and daughter Maddie, aged seven, with one of the new WWII benches
Park volunteers Graeme Forbes and daughter Maddie, aged seven, with one of the new WWII benches

The well-loved Marsh Park, which is positioned between North Lane and Seagers Lane in Brierley Hill, will be marking 100 years since it first opened in September.

A celebration is planned for September to mark the park's 100th anniversary on Friday, September 17, 2021.

Marsh Park in approximately 1920s after it opened. Photo: Fompalf Friends of Marsh Park & Lawyers Field Brierley Hill & Dennis R Whittaker

Frank Chamberlain, who is chairman of the Friends of Marsh Park group, and other volunteers in the group are planning to host a huge picnic in the park to mark the occasion.

Everyone is welcome to attend the celebration, including old and new residents, with people being encouraged to share their memories of the park and its history.

Alfred Marsh, of Marsh & Baxter a famous butcher, bacon and sausage company in the area, donated the land of Marsh Park to Brierley Hill.

National chairman Marjory Hall plants a tree in Marsh Park, Brierley Hill watched by, Jean Darby, chairman of Brierley Hill TWG, Mavis hunt, Mayoress of Dudley and Margaret Tew, chairman of the West Midlands federation of TWG in 1999

The land spans across four acres and has a unique elevated position overlooking the surroundings areas to the west.

Soldiers

Marsh Park was partly built by First World War soldiers, manned by home guard and Royal Observer Corps in the Second World War with a lookout post and used for home guard and civil defence group practice after the war.

It was officially opened on September 17, 1921, and some of the work was actually completed by soldiers returning home.

The park played a prominent role in the area's local history.

A tank from the First World War was placed on Marsh Park facing the road at one point, however, it was removed for scrap during the Second World War.

Recently, new benches have been installed in the park which bear images of the Battle of Britain and Normandy Landings, and one of these benches has been placed close to where there was once a look-out post for fire watching and Home Guard activities during the Second World War.

Former chair of the Friends Group, Rosemary Tomkinson, former councillor Rachel Harris, Emily Jeavons, Jean Jeavons, June Dowen and Joe Holloway celebrating the park's makeover in 2009

Another memorial is also set to be restored and will coincide with Armistice remembrance services later this year.

Frank Chamberlain, chairman of the Friends of Marsh Park group, said: "We have been working with Dudley Council and a nearby war memorial is being restored and this work is due for completion in November.

“I would like to thank Julia Morris, a Green Care worker with Dudley Council for her help in raising about £7,000 in community funds and for overseeing the project. I would also like to thank Steve Blewitt, a council maintenance worker, who made the foundations.

"It will be the park’s centenary later this year and a picnic in the park is being planned for September 18 to mark the event.

"There will be a picnic in the park to celebrate. Families will bring their own picnic, but we will also be feeding families who use the food bank for free."

Marsh Park. Photo: Historic England

Heidi Marsh-Geyton, director of public realm at Dudley Council, said:“Dudley Council is pleased to be supporting the Friends of Marsh Park with the organisation of their centenary celebrations.

“As the event is scheduled for September, it is too early to know if Covid restrictions will be in place but we’re putting safety measure plans in place and will ensure the event is in accordance with the latest government guidance.”

The Friends of Marsh Park group was set up around the end of 2007 and has since played a vital role in improving and sprucing up the green space.

It has worked closely with residents, asking them what improvements they would like to see made to Marsh Park.

The Friends Group are looking for volunteers to join and assist with gardening, particularly on Friday mornings.

Anyone who wishes to join can contact organisers through the Facebook group.

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