Ilkeston - An Afternoon At The Park
w/e 11 March 2012
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

It doesn't matter what time of year you visit Victoria Park, there's always a photo somewhere in the 14 acre site waiting to be taken but when the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming, there are many images just begging to be captured. The ten random shots on this page were all taken one afternoon at the park.

Bristol Road Side

When the park was opened and named by the Duke of Rutland in 1902 it was surrounded by iron railings with access gates that were locked at sunset. Today all sides of the park enjoy an open aspect but at this time of year access from the Bristol Road side is partially restricted by the propensity of crocuses that flower along the boundary. An old photo of one set of gates is available at the Picture The Past site and a search for Victoria Park there also brings up a whole host of old images.
Former Ironstone Workings

The Victorians have to be complimented for their vision in creating this park in an area of former ironstone workings and coal mines. Iron ore was extracted until 1871 but by 1887 it was an open area known as "The Hill" and a huge bonfire was lit to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. It was not until 1896 however that the Town Council was made aware of "certain parcels of land which the Duke of Rutland was prepared to lease to the Corporation for as long a term as can be operated by law."
Bandstand

Certain conditions were attached to the Duke's offer including that it should be kept for the Public as a Recreation and Pleasure Ground but adult cricket or football matches were not to be permitted. The conditions did not however restrict the construction of a bandstand and a temporary one was erected in August 1897 on the highest point in the park. This was replaced by a permanent bandstand in August 1923.
Formal Beds

Another of the conditions was "That the Corporation lay out and drain the Ground and make such walks and plant such shrubs and flowers as they shall determine." Some of those formal beds below the high ground and the bandstand were enclosed by small box hedges (see Picture The Past view) but children now play on the grass around the three raised flowerbeds. Beyond is the bowling green where the bowling pavilion was treated to a repainting in the spring of 2010 as part of an ongoing maintenance programme.
Tree Trail

It was also in 2010 but during the summer that the Tree Trail was updated and new marker/identification posts were installed.
Catkins & Play Area

The park has undergone some systematic improvements since 2009 including the replanting of borders, repairs to the bandstand and maintenance to hedges and trees, refurbishment of seating and the installation of new signs and bollards. A new play area for children has been installed but the main reason I took the picture above was because of the hazel catkins hanging in profusion from the tree.
The Poser

It was near the play area though that we bumped into some friends exercising their dog, who needed no encouragement to stand and pose for the camera.
Shady Corner

But even when the park is busy with children playing, dog walkers and gardeners tending to the borders or mowing the grass or just other members of the pubic, it is still possible to find a shady corner or footpath for a little solitude and contemplation.
Award Winning Park

Last year (2011) recognising the work and improvements that have been undertaken in recent years, Victoria Park won a prestigious Green Flag Award acknowledging it as being one of the best parks in the country. The award is presented to parks that have excellent facilities and are well-maintained and well-managed. The park is also one of the main features in the town's participation in the "In Bloom" competition and scores highly each year. When the judges visit for the competition, the crocuses are long gone but should they chance to visit in March, they would surely award top marks without hesitation.
Purple Crocuses

For the final image in this set, it would be remiss of me not to show a close up the flowers that drew me here in the first place - the humble but beautiful crocus. I understand there are some eighty different species but I just chose this purple variety as I like the colour!

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