Author Topic: Digby Park Small Heath  (Read 4300 times)

abby

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Digby Park Small Heath
« on: October 28, 2013, 03:46:14 PM »
Having recently acquiring an IPad I came across a writing of Digby Park In reply to some of the items I think I can add a little more information about the park.My Father Jack Simpson. Was Park Keeper at Digby Park from 1930 -1951 until his untimely death at the age of 53 from Cancer .dad was well known around the area and to all the Kids he was Parkie.We lived in the park house 136 Mansel Rd by itself facing the bowling green    I can remember 1935 when the Sons of Rest was being built but during the War the RAF moved into the park with a Barrage Balloon and the men were billeted in it .As for the bowling green that disappeared when a German bomb dropped right in the centre of it .Our air raid shelter was just a few feet away so we received the contents of the green on top of us . It was very frightening and when we managed to scramble out we were knee deep in dirt -grass and anything else that the green was built on.The following weekend droves of people came to see this massive crater.  Reading about the state of the park today my dad would be very upset to see it
If any Forum members have any more Info or photos I would be very grateful.
Marion Abbott nee Simpson.

roy one

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Re: Digby Park Small Heath
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2013, 04:22:24 PM »
hi abby welcome to the forum
 
iv never been to that park I did not know there was a park there but tell us a bit more about that part of smallheath and the park  enjoy the forum and have fun roy
each day is a blessing and I bless each day when it comes

planetmalc

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Re: Digby Park Small Heath
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2013, 04:41:49 PM »
Abby, Digby Park was one of my local playgrounds and your dad and his successor(s) will have undoubtably ticked me & my mates off a few times for dangerous roller-skating (we used to bomb down that steep path from the Mansel Road entrance and hurtle towards Somerville Road at breakneck speed and hope we could make the left turn along the bottom of the park! :o )     The bowling green was a gardening masterpiece and it's a great shame to see an amenity like that go to waste. :'(     In those days, I lived in Muntz Street.     
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KOOLIE

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Re: Digby Park Small Heath
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2013, 11:49:34 PM »
Hi Abby.
Here is a photo of the park wardens house leading into Digby Park.
I hope this helps with a few more replies and photo's. 8)

 
 

abby

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Re: Digby Park Small Heath
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2013, 02:51:43 PM »
To Roy.
I do not know much about Small Heath today but I knew more about in 30s-50s .As you know my Father was park keeper and he had to open the gates at 7am each morning and lock up again as late as 20pm or whenever it became dark.Wartime came and all the railings around the park were taken away yo be melted down to make armoured cars etc. that gave Dad a lot more freedom .
I can remember great excitement when it was the silver jubilee of King George and Queen Mary 25 years on the throne.We had a great party in the park with trestle tables put up for us kids and all the children in the country were given mugs and a bar of chocolate.I do not know what happened to my mug but I do know where the chocolate went.I can remember queuing up at the  very new Kingston  cinema to see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in "Top hat" also I remember going to the then Green Lane picture house on a Sat,morning which was known as the tuppeney crush.Entrance 2d  As the doors opened the boys would push through the girls so the girls retaliated by elbowing our way through the boys. Hence the crush.All this to get the best seats.
Unfortunately a lot of nice buildings were lost in the Blitz.
For now Cheers  Abby

aggie

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Re: Digby Park Small Heath
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2014, 03:37:40 PM »

 
I was born in 1966 in Small Heath and spent almost every day in Digby Park from 1974 till 1978. Small Heath was then, as it is now, an inner city working class suburb suffering from high economic deprivation. It consists of rows of tightly packed Edwardian terrace houses.[/color]
 My elder brother and sister used Digby Park before me and always reminded me how it was when they used it in the 1960s.[/color]
 
 When I used Digby Park it was already in free fall decline, but I was lucky enough to see the last few years of an era when parks were for all the community and not just teenagers.[/color]
 Comparing the park between now and 1977 it is immediately obvious how empty it now appears. Gone is the on-site park keeper and the bowling green, which the pensioners used.[/color]
 Gone is the Sons of Rest building, which contained two snooker tables and was used by World War One veterans. Gone are the trees that were climbable - which was most of them.[/color]
 Digby[/color] [/color]Park[/color] [/color]has been stripped bare and is now nothing more than an open grass area. Indeed, they may as well put a sign on the entrance saying "Teenagers Only, there's nothing of interest here for grown ups"[/color]
 In financial terms the park is cheaper than ever to run, but at what cost? Stripping bare Digby Park has been repeated across Birmingham. Parks that were once for the whole community have now become teenager only zones, where the only adults seen are those walking the dogs.[/color]
 The decline for Digby Park started in the mid-1960s when Council got rid of the resident gardeners. Digby Park used to have formal flowerbeds in the mid-1960s, but these had long been trampled out of existence by the time I started using the park.[/color]
 In 1974, the last bowl was bowled on the bowling green.[/color]
 By 1978, the park keeper was gone and the thugs took over the park. I then stopped using it.[/color]
 The Sons of Rest building lasted a few more years, but with the park keeper gone, the vandals took over. First the park keepers hut was burnt down, followed by the Sons of Rest building.[/color]
 The park keepers hut was a wonderful Arts and Crafts octagonal brick and pebbledash hut - many a day we played tag around this hut.[/color]
 The Sons of Rest building was built, like so many others in Birmingham's parks, in the 1920's as social clubs for veterans of World War I. The only one I know that still exists is in Cannon Hill Park.[/color]
 So what did having all these adults around mean - as young children we still played and hung out together? What it did mean is that we knew our boundaries of behaviour.[/color]
 If I climbed a tree with the park keeper around he would come storming over and threaten to book us - three bookings and the police visited your parents. No physical handling was needed. The park keeper used an assertive voice, and we obeyed him.[/color]
 When we kicked balls against the Sons of Rest building, one the pensioners would come out shouting and we stopped.[/color]
 For every anti-social action, we soon realized there was a reaction. We learnt our boundaries.[/color]
 If we are to reverse the declining behavior of British teenagers then we need to look at what activities we provide them and ensure these activities show them the boundaries of acceptable behavior.[/color]
 The easiest place to start would our parks. It will cost money in employing park keepers and gardeners. It will also cost money to re-introduce adult sporting activities back into these parks eg a jogging and fitness circuit.[/color]
 But in return we will save money on repairing vandalism and live in a more crime free city.[/color]
 
 
 1.                              [/font]This piece was written by a Birmingham Councillor responsible for Small Heath and just shows how far the park has gone down the nick since our days in the 40's and 60's when it was a marvellous place to play and hang out. I spent many happy hours there, its just a feature less patch of grass when I saw it last week. [/font]
   

Phil

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Re: Digby Park Small Heath
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2014, 03:51:18 PM »
Hi Aggie

Welcome to the forum, fine words well said, I never knew or used Digby Park but it seems it suffered the same misuse of many of the parks that I knew as a youngster.
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planetmalc

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Re: Digby Park Small Heath
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2014, 05:27:03 PM »
Looking after our parks would be an ideal way of using Workfare labour. O0
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Phil

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Re: Digby Park Small Heath
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2014, 05:30:54 PM »
Looking after our parks would be an ideal way of using Workfare labour. O0

I think they use the labour from those sentenced to community service now, but that and Workfare take jobs out of the employment market.
Make Love Not War

Maz

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Re: Digby Park Small Heath - Bowling Green
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2014, 06:58:48 PM »
Hi
Does anyone know of anyone that played bowls on the green at small heath park during the late 1960's till the bowling green was closed in the 1980's. i am keen to find out.
Many Thanks
Maz

planetmalc

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Re: Digby Park Small Heath - Bowling Green
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2014, 05:05:21 PM »
Hi
Does anyone know of anyone that played bowls on the green at small heath park during the late 1960's till the bowling green was closed in the 1980's. i am keen to find out.
Many Thanks
Maz
 
One of my junior school classmates, John McAllister (I may have spelt that wrongly), bowled there in the early 60's but I don't know if he was still doing so at the end of the decade.
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