People's Parks

VICTORIAN URBAN PUBLIC PARKS IN THE WEST MIDLANDS

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Most British towns and cities gained at least one public park between 1830 and 1914, and the West Midland region is fortunate in having some of the most striking examples which were as much part of the new urban culture as libraries, museums, galleries and public baths.

Some were designed by leading landscape gardeners such as John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843), John Gibson (1815-75), William Barron (1805-91) and Thomas Mawson (1861-1933), but many others were designed by borough engineers, nurserymen, architects and committee members, sometimes after public competitions.

The majority of these parks were – or became – fully public supported by local government, but a number were semi-public ventures funded through subscriptions and entrance fees. Others were created and managed by private companies. Some impetus came from civic rivalries and emulation, with towns competing to show off the best designs and demonstrate their urbanity, civic pride and sophistication.

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