The parks and open spaces team manage Norwich’s parks, many of which are of special historic interest.
Between 1800 and 1900 the population of Norwich increased rapidly but very little thought was given to providing public open space. An exception to this is Chapelfield Gardens in the city centre, which opened as a public park during November 1880. (See the current project to improve play spaces in Chapelfield Gardens).
The pagoda in Chapelfield Gardens, c.1938
At the start of the 20th century the Norwich playing field and open spaces society together with the ‘Corporation’ – now Norwich City Council - and other individuals began buying or leasing land. The aim was to develop parks when funds became available.
Some benefactors gifted land and they are remembered today by the names given to their bequest. For example, James Stuart Gardens (off St Faith’s Lane) and Sewell Park (between St Clement’s Hill and Constitution Hill).
The years following the WW1 were a time of unemployment and hardship. Taking advantage of government grants, the corporation made the bold decision to construct a series of formal parks as a means of unemployment relief.
Eaton Park under construction
The parks take shape
The parks superintendent, Captain Sandys-Winsch, was charged with drawing up plans and implementing the building and planting programme.
Capt Sandy Winsch on the far left, Wensum Park
One of the first of the new parks was Heigham Park, which was opened in 1924. This was followed by Wensum Park in 1925, Eaton Park in 1928
and Waterloo park in 1933. (See the current project to improve water play facilities at Waterloo Park).
Waterloo Park c.1938
Eaton Park was the flagship scheme and was opened by the Prince of Wales. (Link to friends of Eaton Park website)
There are several other parks around Norwich which were constructed during the 1920s and 1930s including:
- Jubilee Park
- Lakenham Recreation Ground
- Sloughbottom Park
- Woodrow Pilling Park
- Mile Cross Gardens.
The Earlham Hall Estate, which now forms Earlham Park and the University of East Anglia, was purchased during 1925 for £20,000.
Mile Cross Gardens c.1970
The Sandys-Winsch parks today
Despite the loss of some features, the Sandys-Winsch parks remain largely true to the original plans. They are characterised by their formal geometric layout, the use of reinforced concrete to create classical features and the inclusion of water features.
Four of the parks have recently been restored using Lottery funding and are included in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. These are Waterloo, Wensum, Eaton and Heigham Parks.
The Bowthorpe Southern Park, a natural area was completed in 2002.
For further information please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 0344 980 3333.