Handsworth Park by Jenny Ann Nicol

Handsworth Park Hampstead Road

An imposing park Lodge and impressive wrought Iron gates, standing open here and allowing a view of fields where 1930s semis were later built.

All types of craft could be hired Rowing boats, Skiffs, Canoes, etc, the perfect way to spend a sunny summers day.

Handsworth Park

The first time I remember going to Handsworth Park to attend the

Flower Show, which in subsequent years, became the Birmingham Show,

was 1947. It was quite an amazing event for a young child to be taken in those years following the Second World War. We would take the No. 11 Outer Circle bus to Church Lane and walk down to Handsworth Park, passing some very large houses that backed on to the Park. The area was rather upscale at that time.

Handsworth Park Boating Lake 1960

The Park, itself was transformed by huge white Marquees and a large fairground with all kinds of rides, swings, carousels, Dodgems, etc. Since people were very much into growing vegetables and flowers in those days the tents that housed the flowers and produce were very popular. All the flowers and vegetables that had been grown and put on show seemed

to be the essence of perfection. The runner beans were the longest and straightest ever seen, the pea pods full of fat peas, cauliflowers with perfect snow white centres, cabbages.seed catalogue perfect, potatoes all scrubbed and shiny, parsnips golden yellow and nary a mark on them; carrots and many other vegetables also perfectly formed and displayed with such care. These didn't much resemble the offerings of the local greengrocers!!! The exhibitors would stand by their displays for hours and keep an eye on their prize vegetables. There was much competition between regular competitors and many secrets were employed to make sure these vegetables were almost guaranteed to win a ribbon preferably one of a blue colour - First Prize.

The Flower exhibit tent was also a sight to behold. I particularly remember rows of amazing chrysanthemums the size of plates and all colours of the rainbow, roses of many varieties along with many many other types of flowers all exquisitely displayed. There were many stories among the exhibitors of staying up all night to watch their prize winning blooms to make sure nothing befell them before the week of the Show. The dahlias were also very spectacular. Visitors were invited to buy flowers and seeds. With lots of people, dreaming of such horticulutural successes that were spread out before them in these tents, selling seeds wasn't to them wasn't to difficult a task. The prize winning African Violets and miniature ornamental gardens with little pools full of gold fish of all sizes were very popular to view.

I remember the marquee with the Dogs and also the Dog Walking event

with so many different types of dogs strutting their stuff with their handlers. There was also a tent with Cats who were judged in their different classes. All pampered and looking bored. I believe they had rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters also. I seem to remember a Cage Bird section also.

In the late afternoon, Ted Heath and his band were playing and everyone

sat on the grass above the fairground and listened as the full band played

all the favourite tunes of the day. Many people would bring picnics and flasks of tea for sustenance but you could buy tea and cakes at the Tea Tent and Orange Juice and Pop for the kids along with Ice Cream and the inevitable Candy Floss at the Fairground.

In the evening the lights would come on and the lake had lights all around it. The music would seem louder at the Fair and all the lights would twinkle on the rides. The finale of the evening was the fireworks display. Apart from all the rockets, golden showers, etc. I remember a huge display of

the outlines of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip all lit up and wishing them the very best. This was the year that they were married and it was a salute to them.

After the fireworks everyone left to catch their buses or walk home. Birmingham Transport would lay on extra buses so no one had to wait very

long for a bus.

Handsworth Park, a super place for the Birmingham Show and brings back memories of times spent there in those long ago golden days.

Jenny Ann Nicol