Tuesday, 15 February 2011


Ongoing research; last updated 16 January 2017

This volume continues the historical overview of Selly Oak Park; the earlier years having been reported in the previous histories (see the column on the right hand side of this page) and in the book, “The Heydays of Selly Oak Park”. Again the clippings, listed in the column on the right, contain the more extensive detail upon which it is founded - information from Council committee minutes, newspaper reports, etc.


Park Environment:
302 ratepayers in Selly Oak signed a petition, to the City Council, against the opening of a refreshment kiosk which had recently been erected in the recreation ground facing Raddlebarn Road. They argued that the needs of the users of the recreation ground were amply covered by 2 shops directly opposite – one within 30 yards of the kiosk and the other within 100 yards. Both shops were kept by widows who depended upon the additional custom from the users of the recreation ground, and could ill-afford the competition from the new kiosk. The petitioners suggested that the kiosk should be re-erected in Selly Oak Park "where there is no provision whatever in the Park for any class of refreshments and the nearest shop is over half a mile away". The matter was referred to the Parks Committee who, after investigation, decided, on cost grounds, that the kiosk should not be moved again. So Selly Oak Park did not get a refreshment kiosk.
The recent proposals to provide dressing room facilities under the Unemployment Relief Works Scheme foundered, as grants were not made available, so the Parks Committee decided to go ahead with the proposals out of their annual budgets. After considering various types of building it was decided to build modular units (costing £100 for each cubicle), which could be extended at a later date, out of reinforced concrete! Nine units were proposed and agreed for Selly Oak Park. The dressing rooms were built adjacent to the path at the north east corner of the first portion of the park (i.e. the land gifted by the Gibbins family back in 1899).  [The buildings are marked on the sketch map that accompanied the conveyance of further land from the Gibbins' estate in 1951; the map can be seen in the 1951-1960 history.]
On Sunday 14th June a tornado hit parts of Birmingham; Selly Oak Park suffered some (unspecified) damage.

Mr. Newbold's tenancy of the lodge at the Harborne Lane entrance to the Park came to an end. The lodge was left in a very dirty and dilapidated condition and it was necessary for a considerable amount of repair and decorating work to be carried out. That was done and, commencing on the 23rd November, the tenancy was granted to Mr. A. Parker, the Department's foreman in charge of Trees in Streets, at a rent of 10/- per week (Mr. Newbold had paid 9/2d. p.w.). A sectional wooden garage (costing £19) was provided for the departmental car he used in carrying out his duties.

There were wage reviews and increases.
Mr. A. R. Tarr, the Park-keeper, with 10 years service and on a wage of £3. 0s. 0d. p.w. received a pay rise of 5 shillings.
Mr. W. Abbey, Park labourer with 6 years service and earning £2.11s.10d. p.w. received 2 shillings extra.

Mr. William Price retired having reached the age of 65 years.
Mr. G. C. Stagg, gardener at Victoria Park, Small Heath, was appointed foreman in Mr. Price's place from the 11th June, and his wages were increased by 2 shillings to £2. 17s. 10d. p.w. in recognition of his promotion.

Park Uses:
2,500 children enjoyed the annual Selly Oak and Bournbrook Chiildren's Festival on 11th July, an event to which the Lord Mayor (Alderman W.W. Saunders) and the Lady Mayoress paid a visit during the afternoon.
During the year another crop of serious personal accidents were recorded: i) G. Palmer (11), of 1/78 Bishop Street, cut his mouth; ii) D. Howles (16) of 136 Cape Hill, received concussion; and iii) H. Conway (17), of 34 Spring Street, fractured his arm. 


Relatively little is reported for this year.

Park Environment:
By the end of April there was still room for 4 cricket clubs to play on the Park pitches.
The football regulations were still in place.
A survey was made of the playground facilities in the City's parks; Selly Oak was recorded as being 31 acres in extent, with no area of playground, but 6 swings and one set of parallel bars (Compilers note - earlier records prompt the question, where had the roundabout and see-saw gone?)

Park uses:
2,000 children, 200 of them in fancy dress, and 100 dressed for the Maypole dancing, enjoyed the annual Children's Festival on 9th July; Major Beaumont Thomas, the M.P. for Kings Norton visited during the afternoon.

This was a bad year for serious accidents in the Park:
i)   F. Lewis (19), of 146, Dawlish Road, cut his / her eye;
ii)   Mrs. Rochester (45), of 48, Greenfield Road, collapsed;
iii)   P. Morris (8), of 69, Paul Crescent, injured his knee;
iv)   R. Morgan (12) of bk.17, Chapel Lane, cut his eye;
v)   L. Evans (11), of 122, Gregory Avenue, cut his chin;
vi)   G. Todd (11), of 2/779 Bristol Road; cut his cheek;
vii)   F. Widdes (17), of 5/50, Darwin Street, bruised his ribs; and
viii)   R. Hannon (21), of 250, Dawlish Road, fractured his arm.

See-saw in the Park, c1930s
(From l-r:   Phyllis, and twins Madge and Mary Horton - three of the Park-keeper's daughters)
(Photograph kindly contributed by John Skinner)


Park Environment:
At this time the Weoley Castle Housing Estate was being developed. Since part of the estate abutted the canal, it was considered prudent to extend the fence, which separated the Council's land (the Park) from the Battery Company's land, right to the canal edge. However, this fence crossed a narrow strip of land on the canal bank which belonged to the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN), and the BCN called for an easement of 1s. per annum to cover this crossing.
Once again, at the end of April there was still room for one more club to use the cricket pitches in the Park.
The 1st Ariel Scouts became neighbours of the Park. After fund-raising they built their new headquarters themselves on Harborne Lane opposite Gibbins Road (their present building on the corner of Harborne Lane and Gibbins Road was not erected until 1982).
This was the year in which Mr. Francis W. Leonard published his book, "The History of Selly Oak", which reports the Park as being the location of the stump of the famous Selly Oak oak which was felled in 1909.

A pay rise for the Park-keeper, Mr. Tarr, emerged from a wider review of the wages of manual staff. With 22 years service, his weekly pay of £3 3s. 9d. (with house, fuel and light) was increased by 2s. 6d.

Park Uses:
There were two major events recorded this year.
The annual Selly Oak and Bournbrook Children's Festival was held on 15th July, whilst on 26th August it was the turn of the Ten Acres and Stirchley Co-operative Society to hold a party for 800 children. Regarding the annual festival, it was suggested that interest in the event was waning, fewer trades-people were involved. Having said that, there were still four bands involved with a procession that was a mile long. But as we review the the history with hindsight it is noticeable that numbers have gradually fallen back year on year. At its peak twenty years earlier as many as 5,000 children were being entertained whereas the number had shrunk to 2,000 by this year.

There was the now customary chapter of accidents in the Park;
i)   W. Ling (26), of 54, Vaughan Street, fractured his clavicle,
ii)   F. Parsons (24), of 226 Willenhall Rd., cut his eye;
iii)   E. Snape (19), of 57, Holloway Head, cut his nose; and 
iv)   L. Davis (19), of 2/783 Bristol Road, fractured his arm.


Park Environment:
Just before the start of the cricket season there was still accommodation available in the Park for three clubs.
In the preceding years of this decade the Nig-Nog Football League had been established. In this league boys under the age of 14 years played football in the parks on Saturday afternoons; matches lasted an hour, and two games were played on each pitch used. The hire of the pitch for each game cost just one shilling, a concession on the normal fee of 3 shillings. In the three previous seasons 10, 8 and 12 pitches had been required, but in July of this year Mr. G. Hess of the Evening Despatch Children’s Ring (presumably the sponsor of the league) applied for 27 pitches, including one at Selly Oak Park, for the 1934/35 season. The Parks Department, realising that there was a substantial threat to revenue if the concession was given on so many pitches, decided to allocate football pitches for the coming season in the ordinary way (per the Regulations) and to allow the teams playing in the Nig-Nog League to have such pitches as then remained available.
Back in February 1923 the Committee, at the request of the Birmingham Battery & Metal Co. Ltd., had provided a wicket gate in the fencing of the Park for the use of the occupants of Weoley Park House (the Farm), upon condition that the wicket gate was to be used only during the hours the park was open to the public. Recently the Farm house had been vacated by Mr. H. C. Lowe of the Battery Co., and was let by them to Mr. S. P. Dobbs, who was Head of the Statistical Department of Cadbury Bros. Ltd. In September of this year Mr. Dobbs applied for the privilege in connection with the gateway to be continued, and he was willing to pay an annual acknowledgement and to undertake that it would only be used by himself and the members of his family. It was agreed that his application be granted upon payment of an annual fee of 21/-, the arrangement to be terminable by either party giving three month’s notice.

Park Uses:
The annual Children's Festival was held on 7th July. During the afternoon the Mayor of Worcester, Mr. A.E. Looker, with the Mayoress, visited the Festival. Mr. Looker was a former resident of Selly Oak, who 25 years earlier had been a member of the Selly Oak Festival Committee. Mr. Ronald Cartland, prospective Unionist candidiate for Kings Norton Division, was also present.


Mrs Beatrice Painter, Bournemouth, was the daughter of Mr. Dobbs and thus a member of the family which occupied the house at Weoley Park Farm from which there was access to the Park.  In several communications with me she has painted delightful pictures of life at the time, and kindly allowed me to share them with you:-

Correspondence, 21st February 2009

The house that I knew as Weoley Park was where my family lived from 1933 until the end of the war when we moved to London.  I was four years old when we first moved in, at which time the farm buildings were still in existence and Weoley Park was no. 64 Gibbins Road.  In 1934 the house (which my father had leased from the Birmingham Battery) and some of the land was sold.  My father was able to buy the house with its garden, the boundary of which had been changed to form a neat rectangle with one long side running along the edge of the park.  The front of the house looked towards this side with its, I think new, picket fence.  A wide drive ran from the front door and curved round to meet this fence at the south-eastern corner of the garden, where there was a tall, but narrow, private gate into the park.  The drive continued as a wide tree-lined track through the park to the entry gates on Harborne Lane.  I assume that this track was the original drive up to the house, before the land became a park.  Below this pathway the land sloped away down to the canal.  I and my siblings were not allowed to go near the canal unaccompanied, but I do remember the canal barges (I think generally carrying coal) making their quiet way along the canal, each pulled by a horse which walked along the towpath on the opposite bank.  In later years I and my two sisters would cross the park to the Harborne Lane entrance, before cycling off to school in Edgbaston.  There was also a footpath across to the south east corner of the park, where there was a way out, enabling one to walk up past the tram depot to the main road, at the point, if I remember rightly, where the Oak Cinema used to be.  I do remember the Lodge and the Lodge gates and perhaps a path running from there towards the centre of the park, I think, with flower beds on one or both sides, but I am not too sure about this.  I remember this part of the park being quite neat and tidy and well looked after by the park keeper, at least until the outbreak of war in 1939.

At some point before the war my father was elected onto the council and served on the parks committee.  According to my sister he was instrumental in causing the construction of the passageway through from the park to Corisande Road, enabling the residents of the new houses which had been built on the farmland, to go across the park to Selly Oak.

As we had quite a big garden we did not spend very much time in the park but we did go there regularly to play on the swings.  Besides the swings there was a very substantial see-saw.  Once my aunt, on a visit, took us to the swings and got me and my younger sister nicely balanced on the see-saw, then, to tease us, walked off, leaving us dangling in the air unable to move the heavy see-saw up or down.  This aunt, who is about to be ninety, swears she never would have done such a wicked thing.

When war broke out all of us four children were evacuated to one place or another.  We returned home the following spring, only to be whisked away again when France fell to the German Army in the summer of 1940.  I don't think there was much in the way of enemy activity in our immediate area, although my father did once put out an incendiary bomb, whether in the park or in our garden I am not quite sure.  Later on, as a contribution to the "Digging for Victory" campaign, part of the park was ploughed up and planted with potatoes.  When these were harvested they were put into big clamps for storage.  The following spring the clamps were opened and the potatoes sold to the local people, but they were small and knobbly and tasted rather sour; not a great success.

I do remember a travelling fair sometimes coming for a week in the summer, with roundabouts and coconut shies and such like.  And on summer evenings there would be courting couples lying around on the grass.

I am afraid my memories are somewhat meagre and unfortunately I do not have any photographs.  My mother took a number of pictures of the old farm buildings and the house before it became no. 208, Corisande Road, but none of the Park itself.

Looking from the garden of Weoley Park Farm onto the Park.
Two young members of the Dobbs family.


Park Environment
In the early thirties there was a growing need for facilities for retired working men, who with new-found time on their hands and little to do, fell into neglect and despair. The idea was conceived of providing meeting places, usually in the parks, where these men could meet to socialise, smoke and play light games. And so the "Sons of Rest", a Birmingahm initiative, was born, the first shelter being provided in Handsworth Park. A review of available facilities, published early in 1935, placed Selly Oak Park in the list where such accommodation was as then not available.
Another social issue of the time was that of dog exercising. The National Canine Defence League drew attention to the lack of facilities in the Birmingham parks for dogs to run free, and asked for a relaxation of the regulations, which prohibited dogs in parks, and the allocation of specific areas in the parks where dogs might be exercised off the leash. The area adjacent to the canal was nominated in Selly Oak Park, but before acceding to the request the Parks Committee sought information about the practice in other towns - they were "of the opinion that it is very undesirable that dogs should be permitted on the football pitches, or in any place where they are likely to interfere with the use of the park by children".
Mr. Douglas Dyas James (for Excelda Housing Supplies Ltd, who were building on the Weoley Park Farm Estate), having redeemed the tithe with a small contribution from the City, conveyed to the City, free of charge, a strip of land 20ft wide, to provide an entrance to the Park from the new estate. The City spent approaximately £120 on fencing, paving, gates, and an approach road, for the entrance.
A complaint was received in June regarding the entrance to the Park from Harborne Lane. The pathway was in a "shocking condition, and has been so for the last ten years", it was claimed. The pathway, "which runs for about 70 yards from the highway to the bridge over the canal, and is five yards wide", was inspected, and discovered to be without drainage so that during storm periods the gravel was washed away. It was agreed to be in a bad condition, and it was reported that the only satisfactory method of dealing with it was to treat it with tarred limestone, at the estimated cost of £100. Since there was no money in the current year's budget, it was deferred for inclusion in the next year's maintenance schedule.
In November an application from the Kings Norton Division of the Girl Guides, for permission to plant six Silver Birch trees in Selly Oak Park to commemorate H.M. Silver Jubilee, was received and granted. A suitable site for the proposed trees, which were between 4 and 5 ft. high and to be planted in one group, was found near the shelter.

Park uses:
At the beginning of May, Silver Jubilee celebrations were held in the Park. The Northfield Prize Band gave afternoon and evening concerts at which the attendances were 600 and 300 respectively. It was reported that there had been no damage to the Park, little litter had been left, and the general behaviour of the public had been good.
June 29th was the occasion of the annual Selly Oak and Bournbrook Children's Festival, 1,500 children being entertained again.
On 17th August the Selly Oak Ward Labour Party held a children's party, giving them tea, and holding sports, with entertainments in the early evening.

There was the usual crop of accidents in the park:
i)   G. Jewell (26), of 48, Vaughton St., cut his thigh;
ii)   H. Hamer (21), of 62, Bloomsbury St., cut his hand;
iii)   A. Green (23), of 50, Highgate Rd., cut his eye;
iv)   J. Curran (18), of 6/25, Brewery St., also cut his eye; and
v)   E. Rankin (19), of 4/95, Grosvenor St. W., tore a ligament.

The Lodge at the entrance to the Park from Harborne Lane. c1935
(The Lodge is the large building on the left behind the wagon.)

(Photograph kindly supplied by Don Hughes)


Park Environment:
The Bowling Green in the Park was reported to be receiving limited use. On the other hand the demand for use of the two tennis courts there was growing, and at times they were insufficient. A proposal to convert the bowling green into another tennis court was approved - the cost of tennis posts, cross nets and boundary netting was £17. So Selly Oak Park lost its bowling green.

Mr. G.C. Stagg, the Park foreman, was appointed to the foreman's role at Highbury Park. His place was taken by Mr. J.E. Archer, a gardener from Cannon Hill Park, who was promoted to the grade of foreman, and received a 4 shilling increase bringing his weekly wage to £2 17s. 10d.

Park uses:
The annual Selly Oak and Bournbrook Children's Festival was held on 11th July. Unfortunately rain interrupted the event. The children (2,100) were given tea in groups at their respective schools. The event was then continued successfully on the following Wednesday evening. As well as the usual activities, a jazz band competition was included in the festival.
Nine days later, on July 20th, the Birmingham Committee of the International Peace Campaign held a public meeting in the Park.

The register of accidents in the Park shows:
i)   J. Roberts (14), of 80 Dale Rd., broke his thumb; and
ii)   J. Ridley (16), of 123, Somerford Rd., broke his arm.

In October, Wm. Willetts (15) was prosecuted and fined 5 shillings for cycling in the Park.


More delightful gems from Mrs Beatrice Painter (having just updated her on the presentation of these histories on the internet and the activities of the Friends of Selly Oak Park):-

Email correspondence, 4 August 2011

I have looked at your history of the Park; an interesting and an impressive work.

I was sad to read of the drowning of the two boys (KBP note - see January 1940). We were always made very aware of the risk of going near the canal. In particular my mother was especially anxious for her youngest who, I may have told you, was once brought back from the tram depot by a driver. He was three or maybe four years old and had gone there he said to buy her a birthday present.
You could add my accident to your 1936 events. My best, but very naughty friends, Janet and Margaret, (the daughters of a vicar) frequently led me astray in one way or another (most notably playing truant from school). Once when we were playing in the park they invented a game in which you stood on a park bench and putting one foot on the back of the bench you leapt to the ground over the back. Easy you might think but when I tried it I caught my foot on the bench back and landed on my elbow, fracturing my left radius. In my memory my damaged arm was set, after an X-ray, without an anaesthetic which was incredibly painful. I spent the summer with my arm in a sling.
Its good to know the Park still flourishes and that it has both friends and festivals. Thank you for keeping in touch.
P.S. I have just looked at the photographs (Compiler's note: those on the Friends of Selly Oak Park website) which are really lovely.................. (although I keep expecting to see our house through the trees !).


1937 was a Coronation year, and whilst there is no record of coronation trees being planted in the Park, there is a wonderful record of plantings throughout the UK and British Empire, and a tree was planted in Selly Oak - but where?

Park Environment:
A telephone was installed in the Lodge, Harborne Lane, to assist Mr. A. Parker in his work as Foreman of the Trees in Streets staff.

Mr. J.E. Archer, appointed Park foreman only last year, resigned on 26th June. Mr. Leonard Charlton, a gardener labourer from Queen's Park, Harborne was appointed foreman at Selly Oak, with a 4 shilling rise, taking his weekly wage to £3.
Mr. R.C. Cooper, the Park Policeman at Selly Oak, resigned of his own accord on 22nd December.

Park uses:
Coronation celebrations were held in the Park on May 12th.
This year in seeking permission to hold the annual Children' Festival on 3rd or 10th July, the organising committee asked that a firework display and bonfire be permitted - they were "trying to make the festival something out of the ordinary". All but the bonfire was allowed. Interestingly, there is a note early in the year that the Selly Oak and Bournbrook Children's Festival had been held in the Park, closed to the public between 1 and 5 p.m. and without any admission charges being made, on one day in each year from 1920 to 1936 inclusive.

The list of accidents in the Park included:
i)  J. Paine (23), of 7, Spernal Grove, was concussed;
ii)   S. Starbuck (66), of 5, Witton St., cut his hand;
iii)   L. Spencer (17), of 6, Rodbourne Rd., broke his leg; and
iv)   A. Davies (13), of 143, Weoley Avenue, broke his arm.
 Go to clippings

The programme of Coronation celebrations in Selly Oak Park.
(Photographs kindly contributed by Matt Felkin via Facebook)


Park Environment:
As 1937 closed the Parks Committee received a petition from the ratepayers of the new Weoley Park Farm Estate concerning paths (old and new) in the Park.  asking that the path in the Park leading from Corisande Road to Harborne Lane be made fit to walk on. Also that a new road or pathway, 9ft wide, be constructed between Corisande Road and the corner of Gibbins Road and Harborne Lane. Furthermore, the cart road which was formerly the approach to Weoley Park farm house, which now that the new Housing Estate had been developed led to a “dead end”, being "in bad condition”, should be made up and extended to the new pathway. The Parks Committee agreed to allocate money for this project (estimated at £600) in the financial year beginning April 1938. The allocation was made, and it appears that the project was completed.
By the Autumn, there was another petition (signed by about 400 people), presented by Councillor Dobbs (we recall that he was resident at Weoley Park Farm house), now asking for a revision of the hours of opening of Selly Oak Park and the provision of a permanent right of way from Harborne Lane to Corisande Road through the Park. With the Park closing at nightfall, residents going to and from the Outer Circle Bus route or the Bristol Road trams, and even school children at the height of winter, were forced to make a long detour round the park. So the request was that consideration be given to either - i) keeping the Park open until 7 p.m. throughout the year, or ii) providing a permanent right of way from Harborne Lane to Corisande Road, either along the route of the present footpath across the Park, or else alongside the Canal, such right of way to be fenced off from the Park and maintained as a public thoroughfare. This was resolved just as the year closed, and the solution was reported first thing in the new year (see 1939 clippings). It was considered to be contrary to general policy to keep any of the public parks open after dark. But in this particular case, the Park formed the subject matter of gifts to the Corporation by the Gibbins family, and conveyances contained certain restrictions against the use of the land except for the purpose of a public recreation ground or as agricultural land. However, the Public Works Committee gave authority for a bridge, to be built across the canal to connect Corisande Road at the western end with Nateley Grove, thus providing access from Harborne Lane to Corisande Road. In this way the Parks Committee were relieved of the need to keep the Park open beyond the normal opening times, or provide a fenced-off public thoroughfare.

Drawbridge between Reservoir Road and Corisande Road
(Kindly contributed by Allan Buttery)

In the autumn, in many of the parks and recreation grounds across the City, Air Raid Trench Shelters had been, or were being, constructed - war was imminent. Selly Oak Park was not listed as having one, however some sort of disruption occurred as it was reported in the same document that football matches at Selly Oak Park (and elsewhere) had had to be cancelled.
Despite the reported cancellation of football matches, it was reported that across the City 390 clubs had been registered to play football on 196 pitches in the parks during the 1938/9 season - a record number - and "additional pitches are urgently required, especially in ........, Selly Oak, .......... districts".

Mr. J.D. Slater (38), was employed from 19th January as a Park labourer on a wage of £2. 16s. 0d. per week. After a probationary period he moved onto the permanent staff.
Mr. Tarr, the Park-keeper, now with a total of 27 years service (not all as Park-keeper) received a pay increaase of 2 shillings and 4 pence, taking his weekly wage to £3. 11s. 8d., with house, fuel, light and Mackintosh extra.
Mr. S. A. Brunt, the Park Policeman at Selly Oak, resigned on 5th October, leaving of his own accord.

Park Uses:
The annual Children's Festival was held on June 25th, with many of the usual features, and in the evening a jazz-band competition, followed by a game of living whist played by four adults using 52 children as the cards.  Preparation of the festival was beset with controversy. The organising committee's application had asked that Wilson's Fun Fair be allowed in the Park for the event. The fun fair operator was known to the City; his fun fair was used in several City parks at different functions. One light tractor, one medium sized Round-about, Dodgems and a Cake Walk were specified in the application, and guarantees given that no damage would be done. The application was approved, subject to the organisers undertaking to make good any damage done to the Park. On the day before the Festival it was reported that three heavy traction engines and six caravans had been taken into the Park. With Parks Committee backing, the Parks General Manager had all the units over and above those approved removed from the Park.

Only one accident in the Park was recorded - J. Riley (4), of 97 Denham Rd., Acocks Green, who cut his head, was given first aid, and then taken to Selly Oak Hospital.

Mr. T.H. Lancaster (28) was prosecuted for cycling in the Park and fined ten shillings.

The Lewis family in the park in 1938
(Photograph kindly supplied by  ???)


Park Environment:
The subject of dogs in parks was reconsidered during the year, and the earlier recommendation to allow dogs to be exercised off the leash in Selly Oak Park in the area alongside the canal, was approved. However such exercise was only allowed before 8 a.m. and during the hour before the Park closed.
War-time Arrangements:
The No. 914 (County of Warwick) (Balloon) Squadron of the Royal Air Force applied to the City for a site on the south side of the City to fly a Barage Balloon as part of a demonstration / publicity campaign. The Park was considered a possible location, but in the end another site was used.
As part of the air raid precautions, Selly Oak Park, in common with 34 other parks in the City, was eventually provided with a permanent shelter. All trenches were given 2 ft. of cover, and in paved areas the trenches were excavated to a depth of 9 ft. to enable the 2 ft. of cover to be applied, leaving the completed structures level with the surrounding area. Where the trenches were excavated in grass land, the depth was 7 ft. and the surplus soil was used to provide the 2 ft. of cover necessary. The surfaces were turfed and slightly battered to the level of the surrounding turf. All the damage caused to paths, paving, and other portions of the parks and recreation grounds by transport, or any other cause, in connection with the construction of the trenches, was made good by the Public Works Department, who also managed all surface and subsoil drains associated with the trenches. Construction of the trench shelters commenced in July (and were approved by the Home Office in May 1940), but came into use shortly after the outbreak of war. 
The Park was also amongst those selected as a site for an underground Report Centre.  This building was constructed at the Gibbins Road / Harborne Lane corner of the Park, just where the current welcome post is located.  [The building is shown on the sketch map included in the conveyance documents for the land donated from the Gibbins' estate in 1951 - the map can be seen in the 1951-1960 history.]
Park Uses:
The annual Children's Festival was booked for Saturday 8th July. Again there was a request to use the fun fair, but because of the failure last year to adhere to the terms of the permission (they used many more units than declared in the application), this year the application was refused. The refusal was appealed by the organisers of the Festival, supported by Mr. Pat Collins the proprietor of the fun fair (- Recall that in the past Mr. Pat Collins had been refused permission to cater in the Park). After consideration the Parks Committee agreed to sanction the fun fair, but only allowing the smaller number of units permitted last year.  Newspaper reports do no mention the fair being present on the day.  However they do report that the day was largely rained off.  The organisers managed to give the (2,500) children their tea indoors in groups at their respective schools on the Saturday - a small sop to the children's disappointment.  The other activities of the Festival - fancy dress parade, crowning the Festival Queen, sports, jazz-band competition - all took place in the Park on the following Wednesday evening under clear blue skies.

This year's serious accidents included:-
i)   N. Stainton (18), of 101, Kitchener Rd., Stirchley; injured his knee, was given first aid and sent to Selly Oak Hospital;
ii)   D. Mason (24), of 19, Sycamore Rd., Bournville, injured his head, was given first aid and sent to Selly Oak Hospital:
iii)   R. Payne (7), of 30 Woolacombe Lodge Road, cut his chin, was given first aid and then taken to Selly Oak Hospital; and
iv)   F. Ennis (11), of 143 Woolacombe Lodge Road, was bitten by a dog, first aid was rendered and he was taken to hospital, the Police were also informed.


With the war in progress, an interesting general note appeared in the Birmingham Post on 2nd March:

City Parks in War Time
Provision of Essential Recreation

With the approach of spring activity in the Birmingham municipal parks is daily increasing and is scarcely, if at all, abated by war-time demands. In fact, the parks are being prepared for an outdoor season that is likely to find the population of the city more than ever attracted to them in search of recreation. In the coming spring and summer – and particularly because of the extra hour of daylight available this year in the early months – workers and their families are expected to use the parks more frequently than before. Petrol rationing and the reduced transport facilities will make holiday-making and day excursions to the country pleasures more rarely experienced, and the parks are bound to be more patronized by them in search of fresh air. For these reasons it is the intention of the Parks Department to maintain all possible facilities for pleasure-making, in the belief that they are a necessity and not a luxury. Boating, swimming and games will not be interfered with, except where the use of the parks for direct war-time measures is enforced. The Parks Department has given a helping hand to agriculture by arranging demonstration plots for the benefit of allotment holders, but it is not at the moment embarking on any course of extensive digging for food production, as has been done at Manchester. Nor are the greenhouses yet being diverted to the growing of produce. It is desired to keep up the high standard of floriculture for which the city parks have a reputation, though war-time economy will be duly observed.

War-time Arrangements:
Because some of the air raid trench shelters were in parks, and parks were closed at nightfall, it was necessary that, in the event of a raid or warning, there be access to keys for gates and doors. A standard lock and keys was provided for those parks affected, with standard pass keys being issued to the police and Air Raid Wardens. Until the locks were changed in the Spring, Mr. Tarr, the Park-keeper at Selly Oak, was on call-out and did patrol duty at night. He was granted an ex-gratia payment of 2 guineas to cover his duty from the outbreak of war until 22 January when arrangements were made for other employees to take over his patrol duty.
Permission was granted to the Selly Oak Section of the Birmingham City Transport Department to use a portion of the Park for training purposes under the auspices of the Local Defence Volunteers.
In July the Air Raid Precautions Department provided a car park adjacent to the site of the undergound Report Centre.
In July the Parks Committee received a letter from the Iron and Steel Control Unit in the Ministry of Supply in London. It was stated that the national interest required that all available scrap metal must immediately be realized for armament manufacture. Many iron railings, bollards and refuge posts in and around parks and gardens in the streets were considerd to have no important aesthetic value, and not be serving so essential a purpose that they could not be removed for scrap. With a view to drawing equally upon the full resources of the whole country, the Control Unit was carrying out a survey of all such iron, both publicly and privately owned, with the intention of formulating a comprehensive scheme for removing everything that was considered unnecessary. And so the Park gate and railings came under threat. The Parks Committee were advised that the cost of re-fencing after the war exceeded, by many times, the scrap value of the fences. Beyond that there was the matter of providing alternative fencing to ensure the safety of the public; there was great reluctance to leave the parks unfenced. The Parks Committee decided to respond with a schedule of internal fencing from various locations where the amenities would not suffer by its removal. Their list provided a total of over 500 tons, of which 1.1 tons was fencing from Selly Oak Park. The Commiittee decided, in the first instance, not to proceed with the scrapping of their internal fencing, but in the end their hand was forced by further demands from the Ministry of Supply.

The Lodge at the Harborne Lane entrance to the Park had been occupied by Mr. Parker, the Foreman Woodman in charge of the Trees in Streets staff.  Mr. Parker retired in May having reached 65 years of age.  He was succeeded by Mr. C.N. Selibas who again was granted the tenancy of the lodge.  Authority was granted for some repairs and decoration of the lodge at this change-over.

Park Uses:
The Park year opened on a sad note. Richard Francis Maycock (7) and his brother, Thomas Joseph (5), were drowned in the canal adjacent to the Park on Sunday, 7th January. The younger of the boys had ventured on to thawing ice on the water and fallen through. His brother attempted to rescue him and himself fell through the ice. Mr. Fred Ashman, who was nearby, waded into the canal and removed the children, and then assisted with artificial respiration for an hour, but without success. The inquest on the following Wednesday examined all the circumstances. It was suggested that there was no more danger from the canal being unfenced than there was in many parks where there were unfenced pools and lakes. The Coroner acknowledged that there appeared to be little advantage to be gained by fencing the canal as there was some three miles of unfenced path along the canal to which the public had access. (- Recall the donors of the Park had expressed the wish that the canal not be fenced, so preserving the open aspect of the Park.) A verdict of death by misadventure was recorded. Naturally the boys' parents were upset and sought some redress. They eventually accepted an ex gratia sum of £25 from the City in full settlement, with £5 solicitor's fees.

The park was used on the 1st May for an open air meeting organised by the Birmingham May 1st Demonstration Committee.

On the 18th January, young (15 year old) Master Stanyard was fined 5 shillings for cycling in the Park.