Park Life (part 3) – Flagging up the Coronation

A recent thread on the Facebook page Forgotten Berwick was talking about Coronation Park.  Many people will think of the small park above Tommy the Miller’s field covered in a previous post.  But there were two other Coronation Parks in Berwick.  

I say in Berwick:  one was in Tweedmouth at the south end of the Royal Tweed Bridge (New Bridge).  This was part of the same program of planting works to celebrate the coronation of Edward VIII (or George VI as it turned out to be).

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Postcard showing the small area at the end of the New Bridge.

The other was located to the east of Windmill Bastion on the east side of the Elizabethan ramparts.

A tourist guide from 1954, informs the visitor:

In June 1953, the Mayor (Ald. G. M. Lamb) opened the Rest Gardens at the Flagstaff Park, and he pointed out that the gardens were “only a beginning” of the future development of the Park.  The gardens will be much appreciated by visitors and townspeople alike.

It was these “Rest Gardens” that were created to celebrate the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1952, yet the quote implies there was a public park before this development.  

A later tourist guide from 1959 describes the scene, heading the section:

Flagstaff Park

Though this park lies more seaward, it is amply sheltered by the massive Elizabethan Wall on one side and the earthworks of the old Edwardian Wall on the other.  In summer it is a feast of colour and justly popular with visitors.

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A feast of colour!

Later guides in the ‘60s continue to call it Flagstaff Park and it may be that while this was the official name, a loyal public preferred Coronation Park.  The photograph of the newly planted gardens is in the 1954 guide is captioned Rose Gardens at Flagstaff Park, Berwick-upon-Tweed but was also reproduced as a postcard entitled Rose Gardens, Coronation Park.

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Postcard from about 1954 showing the new Rose Gardens, Coronation Park.

It seems this park – Flagstaff Park – had been created in the late 1920s from land purchased from the Freemen.  A plaque tells us that this land together with that at Sea Banks in Spittal were acquired and the establishment of Berwick Library (when in Marygate) was possible due to a bequest by one Charles Little.

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Bronze plaque dedicated to Charles Little, installed in Berwick Library in 1949.

Whether it was planted with ornamental beds is unknown but during the war, these would most likely have been replaced with vegetable allotments as happened elsewhere around the walls.

After the war, the area was used by the army as rifle ranges.  An aerial photograph from 1948 shows the two rifles ranges built into the flankers either side of Windmill Bastion.  In the ‘60s, the south range was removed for the park but the north range continued to be used.

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Aerial photograph, 1948, showing the rifle ranges at Windmill Bastion (circled).

In recent years the park has been used for various events.  In the mid-90s, the Maltings Community Theatre staged a promenade performance around the walls of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor which culminated in the park, with the circular area standing in for Windsor Great Park.  Recently, the Maltings have used the area for touring outdoor productions of Shakespeare.

The Lord Chamberlain’s Men performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in Flagstaff Park,June 2011.
(Photo courtesy of The Maltings Theatre)

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