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Tyne and Wear HER(1841): Roker Park - Details

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Roker Park



Gardens Parks and Urban Spaces


Public Park

Early Modern



A municipal park opened to the public in 1880, making use of a deep ravine. The land for the park was presented to the town jointly by the Hedworth Williamson family, and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, in the hope that such a facility would help upgrade the surrounding area and encourage house building. By the late C19, Roker Dene had become one of the few green spaces availble in Sunderland for recreation, and a condition of the gift was that a road bridge was built spanning the valley, providing access to the land, and enabling expansion of quality housing in Roker. A deep ravine, Roker Gill, dominates the northern end of the park, its sides planted up with shrubs. Through the bottom of the cut, a walk lead eastwards, under first a metal footbridge, then an arch carrying the public road above. The promenades were built during the recession of 1885-6 and provided work for an employment scheme. At the western end of the Gill, set on a small promontory looking out to sea, is a bandstand (II) dated 1880. Two life-sized lead statues, the "Babbies", representing haymakers, formerly stood in the park, one on either side of the Gill, further to the east of the bandstand. A path from the entrance off Roker Terrace leads along the top of the southern side of the Gill curving south with flower beds set in lawn between it and the boundary, to a substantial drinking fountain erected in 1880, commemorating the opening of the park and the Centenary of the Sunday Schools. Past this, the path continues down the eastern side of the park to meet with the entrance on Park Parade. To the north of the Gill, from the second entrance on Roker Terrace, a walk leads along the northern side of the gorge, down the western side of the park, to also join with the southern gate. To the south of the path leading from the west entrance to the lodge lies a bowling green with associated late 20th century park buildings; south of this lies a second bowling green, the accompanying pavilion having been completed in 1902. There is also a tennis court. Beyond, running through the centre of the park and adjoining with the western end of the dene is a sunken walk leading through the area of rockwork. In the centre of the southern part of the park, a lake provides the main focus. At its southern end, enclosed by planting, is the site of a depot and greenhouses, subsequently cleared and replaced by a garden for the blind. Mid 20th century tennis courts occupy the south-east and south-west corners of the site {1}.




<< HER 1841 >> English Heritage, 1997, Register of Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England, GD2432 F. Green, 1995, A Guide to the Historic Parks and Gardens of Tyne and Wear, p 37-38 W.C. Mitchell, 1919, History of Sunderland T. Corfe, 1973, History of Sunderland S. Miller, 1989, The Book of Sunderland S. Reeder, 1992, Whitburn and Roker in Old Picture Postcards F. Green, 1995, Historic Parks & Gardens in Tyne and Wear - Stage 2 Research; City of Sunderland, 2007, Roker Park Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Strategy

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