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Pinch Belly Park

May 06, 2015  •  2 Comments

 

Pinch Belly Park? Oh I had to find out more!

As I delved deeper into the history of my hometown I set out to explore Stockport's oldest park Vernon Park which is tucked away on the hillside and a short walk from the town centre. 

I wrongly assumed that the imposing red brick building standing beyond the grand stone gates of Vernon Park was Vernon Hall.  I knew that the Vernon family were key players in the industrial development of the area. But I suppose by choice they would've lived away from the smog and grime of the mill town. After all, Friedrich Engels - in his lengthy read  "The Conditions of the Working Class of England" had rather harshly  described Stockport as being "renowned as one of the duskiest, smokiest holes in the whole of the industrial area".

Photo taken at Vernon Park Stockport

Surprisingly the park came before the building. In 1844 Lord Vernon gifted agricultural land to Stockport council with the intention of it being developed for "the purpose of public walks and as a place for outdoor activity". Various financial disputes delayed the building of the park and work didn't start until 1857. The building came a few years later and became Stockport Museum. I'm not certain what was displayed here but at that time the Victorians were keen to travel and usually returned with all sorts of 'treasures'. Photo taken at Vernon Park Stockport

Outside I met a number of people who'd come to visit the museum. Except it had closed. I never even knew it existed. I'm not too sure what the future holds for the building but I hope it isn't left to go to ruin. I took a peek inside - it was a little dark and gloomy but nevertheless had features. In the right hands and with investment this could be a fantastic arts centre.

Photo taken at Vernon Park Stockport

Beside the doors stood a pair of ornate urns overflowing with neglected dying plants. 

Photo taken at Vernon Park Stockport

The signpost beyond the house suggested that there was plenty more to be discovered.

Photo taken at Vernon Park Stockport

I came across a commemorative park bench which dates the park - 150 years takes us back to 1858. Stockport over the centuries has known extreme periods of economic boom and bust. I know I've mentioned the decline of recent years here in Stockport - it comes and goes in cycles. That gives us hope for the future. It has to get better doesn't it? 1858 was not the best of years - English cotton trading was suffering and unemployment amongst the mills workers was high. The council employed the poverty-stricken mill workers to construct the park. it's likely they would've laboured in return for a pittance - the minimum to survive... and so the nickname  Pinch Belly Park. Their endeavours would've greatly benefited the community - it's not difficult to imagine the positive impact this pleasant green space would've had on the wellbeing of the locals. We all deserve space to breathe and simply 'to be' don't we?

The view through the gaps in the trees of old and new stretches for miles and miles. Many old textiles mills still stand in Stockport. Beyond the mill is the visible line of the M60 motorway - the Manchester ring road. 

Photo taken at Vernon Park Stockport

I was bemused by the sight of the cannon. The original Russian cannon came from the Crimean War but was the metal was melted down to aid the 'war effort' in the 1940s - yet another period of hard times in our history. The ornate railings and water fountains also suffered the same fate.

Photo taken at Vernon Park Stockport

The original Victorian bandstand was demolished in the 1960s and later replaced with this replica.

Photo taken at Vernon Park Stockport

The two bowling greens were neat and well kept. There's something very traditional about bowling greens. Calm and peaceful places. 

Bowling and bowling only. Obviously. But horses? 

Photo taken at Vernon Park Stockport

The local community police officer was enjoying the peace and quiet of the park. 

Or perhaps he was looking out for horses?

I hope you enjoyed my visit to Vernon Park in Stockport. I regret not making the time to visit the lovely tea room - I definitely will do next time though.

 


Comments

seabluelee(non-registered)
I always enjoy going visiting with you! It's a chance to see things I never would otherwise, and always interesting. I missed the tea break this time, though. :-)
Sarah(non-registered)
I loved the visit to this park. So sad that the building is closed, such a waste.
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