FoEP: Improving the Park for the benefit of the whole community
A Season of Change ....
Most residents in the Eastfield area will have noticed that recently we have lost a number of well-known local landmarks. On the Lakeview side of the Park, Lakeview House and Eastfield House are both gone, while on the Eastfield side, the Broadmead Public House and Broad-mead Baptist Church have both been demolished.
Change is inevitable and, in the Park, things are changing rapidly as we move towards winter. Autumn leaves are no longer swept up by Council staff but earthworms will incorporate them into the soil where they will decompose, releasing nutrients and so contributing towards new growth in the spring - an everlasting cycle of death, decay and revitalisation.
1.That arable and grassland with 3½ acre lake, rock gardens and chain of lakes, plantation walks, grounds & woodland, comprising an area of approximately 63 acres and arable and grassland and woodland belt comprising approximately 19 acres, the whole lying between Kettering Road and Buttocks Booth Lane as indicated on the plan produced, be purchased from the Executors of the late Mrs A. E. Ray for the sum of £8,600 plus £117 12s 0d surveyor’s fees and legal costs, and expenses in preparation and cancellation of auction.
2.That application be made to the Ministry of Health under the provision of Section 36 of the Northampton Corporation Act, 1943, for consent to the raising of a loan for the amount of the purchase money and costs.
3.That the Town Clerk be authorised to affix the Common Seal to all documents in the matter.
Click on any picture for larger view with caption.
The Origins of Eastfield Park ....
The demise of Eastfield House is particularly significant because it was originally the home of Major and Mrs A E Ray who owned the land that now forms the Park. The house gave its name to both the Park and the housing estate south of the Park (and hence, eventually, to the Borough Ward). (There is more about this in the next column.)
Broadmead Baptist Church was apparently named after the church of that name in Bristol and gave its name to Broadmead Avenue and, indirectly, to the public house. Broadmead Baptist Church, the building, has gone but Broadmead Baptist Church, the people, is still a lively growing cong-regation that meets in All Saints Primary School in Boughton Green Road. The building will be replaced by the Broadmead Centre, a two storey building, much better suited to the needs of the congregation and the local community. The Friends of Eastfield Park have held their February AGMs in the church building in recent years. We will need to meet in the Eden Close Community Room in 2018 but we look forward to meeting in the Broadmead Centre in 2019 (click here for more about the Centre).
NEW PARK COVERS 82 ACRES
The private grounds at Eastfield on Kettering Road on the outskirts of Northampton, residence of the late Major and Mrs A E Ray, have been acquired by Northampton Corporation as a new park. There are 82 acres ….
An article in the Northampton Mercury dated Friday 1st July 1949 begins as follows:
Many people seem to believe that the land was bequeathed to the Borough by Major Ray but this is not the case. The Major died in 1944 and left the Estate to his wife, Alice. After her death in 1947 the grounds were to be auctioned by her Executors but Northampton Corporation stepped in and purchased the land for £8,600 (plus other costs) as Corporation documents from the time clearly show. The following is an extract from minutes (dated 27th June 1949) referring to a recommendation from the Finance & General Purpose Committee dated 30th May 1949.
The 'back' of the Crescent Rock Garden showing areas planted with daffodils.
One should never believe everything one reads in the newspapers and it was never intended that all 82 acres should become a park. The records speak of "63 acres .... scheduled in the Town Planning development proposals as a public open space and 19 acres for housing". Planning permission was given for 600 houses on Eastfield in May 1952.
Of course, the rest of the land did not become a public park immediately. In 1950 and 1952 the Corporation received revenue from the sale of wheat and rent for grazing cattle from the Eastfield estate. In 1950, however, 12.55 acres of the land adjacent to Booth Lane was leased for 99 years to the Youth Organisation Committee and the change of use from agriculture to playing field recorded. Even today, many maps show the area around the football pitches as 'playing field' distinct from the rest of the Park.
Eastfield House: One year ago, shortly before it was demolished
Autumn leaves litter the ground, part of the grand cycle of life.
Broadmead Baptist Church Building - almost completely demolished.
And looking forward to next spring when life will once again burst forth in the Park, Vic and Chris have been working on the 'back' of the Crescent Rock Garden. They worked together planting daffodil bulbs in the area to the right of the area planted last year (as shown in the picture above) and then Chris weeded and dug over the next area along in preparation for planting next year. Growing conditions are far from ideal on this bank where it is dry and shaded under conifers but we should be able to improve it steadily year by year.
It should be stressed that although the Corporation acquired most of the grounds belonging to Eastfield House in 1949, it did not buy the house itself nor some of the grounds immediately surrounding the house (some of which have since been added to the Park). Owen Ray lived in the house until he died in 1950 and Claude Ray, a well known local 'character', lived in Eastfield Lodge until his death in 1966. Eastfield House was purchased by the Oxford Regional Hospital Board in 1951 and became a nurses hostel attached to Manfield Orthopaedic Hospital. More recently it was a resource centre for the NHS but it was eventually closed, sold and demolished. The grounds are now being developed as a housing estate.