History of Brinton Park – A short history from past to present
Brinton Park is a public park of 32 acres in total situated on the south western approaches to Kidderminster town, Worcestershire and was formerly part of Sutton Common prior to 1882.
In 1883 John Brinton D.L., J.P. and Member of Parliament for Kidderminster bought 26 acres of land commissioning J.T Meredith (architect) to devise plans for its layout as a pleasure ground for the enjoyment of the town’s residents. It was conceived as an act of liberal philanthropy that John Brinton having made a fortune from his family’s mills and carpet works should make this gift to the townsfolk. He spent £3,000 upon landscape work of the 23 acres of grounds although the total value was estimated at £7,000.
Detailed plans were drawn up between 1883 to 1887 and are held within the Brinton Collection at ‘The Carpet Museum’ these having been drawn up to ensure the park opened in time to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. The park was officially opened on 1st August 1887 as a ‘Beacon Park’ to celebrate the monarchs reign.
The park was extended by the Town Corporation up to Sutton Road by a further 6 acres opening on 12th May 1905 as depicted in the historical plans from the Brinton Collection. The land having originally been allocated for development of ‘Town Villas’ as depicted on the earlier Meredith drawings held in the Collection.
In 1890 a Kiosk was burnt down and the site remained unoccupied until 1896 when a new structure was erected together with a Bandstand on the adjoining site that is close to the current tennis courts location today. A ‘Parks Committee’ was also formed and a number of further improvements were carried out to further enhance the park.
The current park layout is substantially as it was laid out during the period 1880 to 1905 having all the attributes of a late Victorian and Edwardian park. However, of late some important elements have been lost including the ornamental pond, rustic bridge and lodge, and much of the ornamental planting beds and only remnants survive today. A number of historical photographs show the extent of the horticultural displays that would have been magnificent including floral displays and exotic beds.
John Brinton’s gift is a legacy which has allowed residents to enjoy free access to a public park for the benefit of healthy outdoor sport, recreation and entertainment. In presenting the park to the borough he is quoted as saying:
‘I have felt that, while enjoying myself in my own grounds, many persons had no such privilege to enjoy on their part. My anxiety has been for several years to try and ensure the benefit of a Public Park to the townspeople.’
In 1898 a tramway running from the town up Stourport Road enabled people from further afield to access the entertainment within the park as it had wide appeal and continues to be a venue for bands, shows, carnivals and other civic gatherings.
The once magnificent formal municipal bedding and instructional garden displays beside the Sutton Road entrance have been lost. The ornamental pools directed the original brook through a small valley running parallel to the St
ourport Road having rustic bridges, birds and fowl. Above this valley is the Bandstand which has regular performances during the summer months. The large tract of meadow with trees expands out across the park to the North. The Richard Eve Memorial once reflected itself in the pools below in the valley feature but alas the pools are no longer present. The cafe that once was housed in the ‘Four Winds Shelter’ known as the ‘Little Candy Shop’ run by Mrs Butcher was another loss to the park. With all these individual alterations collectively the park has lost much of its historic fabric.
As a recreation ground more active pursuits have been encouraged with the later provision of tennis courts, bowling green, MAPPA, skate park, play area and splash pad.
The other aspect of the park that prevails today is the horticultural and cultivation areas being run by Kidderminster College and Emily Jordan Foundation (Twigs). The learning and skills facilities were previously wholly run by the District Council but as they have reduced their own demand for floral displays so the space has been less used. The new partners are developing this space for positive outcomes for young people and further investment could have wider community impact.
A published book produced through a previous Heritage Lottery Fund project: Brinton Park and Sutton Common, A History of the Area by Betty I Park, provides us with a relevant insight into the area. Copies for purchase are available on request to Lesley Fox, WFDC HLF Project lead.