early days at naunton
park primary school
memories of the garden
friends of naunton park
map of the area
The following is compiled from people's memories of the gardens...
||Gardens with summer house
The gardens were locked at night, the railings
not being removed until the Second World War. Opening times were
posted on a board at the entrance to the gardens and the park keeper
(who lived at 90 Naunton Lane) was responsible for locking up. Woe
betide any children taking their time about leaving after he had
blown his whistle! Children seen misbehaving or generally being
naughty would find the keeper's keys thrown at them - "and
it hurt"! One boy carving his initials on a tree was banned
from the recreation field for two weeks. Children were not allowed
in the garden unless given permission by the park keeper. No games
were allowed in the garden - they had to go through to the recreation
field. The swings and giant strides were on the right hand side
of the field near to where the present day pavilion is situated.
"Giant strides" (for those readers who are too young to
remember) consisted of a 15ft high central post like a telegraph
pole with a wheel bearing at the top. Ten chains were suspended
from the bearing, each having a wooden crossbar handle about 3 feet
from the ground. Children would run around the central post - faster
and faster - until they would literally "take off".
The gardens were longer in the 1900s. They extended on to the recreation
field as far as what is known as the "tump" - the trees
on the left hand side were about 50 yards further on from the present
boundary hedge. School Sports Days - very grand affairs - were held
on the field. There were sideshows with Cheltenham rock and other
delights for sale for the small children. Prizes for winners of
the races included tennis racquets and cricket bats.
At the far end of the St. Clair Ford Avenue there were some steps
up to a grove of laburnum trees where one could rest on a seat and
enjoy the scent of the "golden showers". There were some
steps down to a summer house for adults to sit in - children were
not allowed in on their own.
| Grove of laburnum trees, 1902
The drinking fountain was a source of great attraction
for the children, especially small boys who used to turn on the
tap, then put a finger on the end of it and direct a jet of water
over any unwary person passing by - "especially the old ladies
in the cottages"! There were brass cups provided for drinking:
one small girl was told by her mother not to use the cup as "you
never knew who had been drinking out of it".
Accounts vary as to the plants in the gardens. In springtime, all
along the front of the Hay Cottages, grew narcissi. These borders
were looked after at that time by the park-keeper, Mr Read. Agapanthus
were planted along the St. Clair Ford Avenue, and as can be seen
from the old photographs, there were agaves in large terracotta
pots, trailing plants in urns, various shrubs on the lawns, and
rose arches leading up from the entrance to the drinking fountain
- all must have made for a colourful garden.
The Emmanuel Church choir used to sing in the park and the Salvation
Army held services there as well as giving concerts. The bandmaster,
at the end of the concert, would ask if any child would like a turn
at conducting. When the challenge was taken up, no matter how little
musical knowledge the "young conductor" had, the members
of the band would follow him or her faithfully, resulting in a cacophony
of sound in variable slow-quick time!
||Steps leading from poplar avenue to laburnum
At the far end of the sports field was a pavillion
which is remembered by several residents as being called the Lamb
Shed. A local farmer used to graze his sheep on the field and the
lambs would play in and around the pavillion ,which was more than
the local children were allowed to do. It was a "no-go"
area for them!
Needless to say, a vigorous sweeping and cleaning was necessary
before the pavillion could be used at cricket matches. There was
an air raid shelter in the recreation field near to where the present
children's playground is situated. The children were shepherded
into it whenever the siren went. One very dry summer, about 20 years
ago, the outline of the air raid shelter was clearly visible because
the grass on it had dried more quickley than that on the rest of
The council reinforced the cellars in some houses near the park
(for example Naunton Crescent, Naunton Park Road and elsewhere)
with brick pillars, to create extra shelters for local residents.
The railings were removed from the front of the gardens during the
war but for safety reasons those in front of the school were kept.
After the war the drinking fountain, whose foundations were collapsing,
was removed, too, for reasons of safety.