Around 1902 William Henry Jones, owner of factories and quarries, bought Warley Abbey and the estate. Mr Jones saw profit in building on the farmland and was planning to build up to 3000 homes to meet a rising demand.
Happily, a committee of local industrialists stepped in to save the Abbey and the surrounding grounds. Headed by wealthy glassmaker Alexander Macombe Chance, the committee gained the backing of the Birmingham City Council leader Joseph Chamberlain. An appeal for funds was launched. Money poured in from the public to add to the funds provided by the council, and the estate was bought by Birmingham Corporation in 1905.
At the official opening Alexander Macombe Chance addressed the crowds. Chance said, ‘I want it known as the ‘people’s park’, for there never was a park in the Midlands before that was paid for directly by the money of the people’.
Today, Warley Woods is still a park run by the people, with a group of local volunteers helping to maintain it as a place to be enjoyed as a place of leisure, entertainment, recreation and exercise.
Every year there is a popular vote across Britain where people can vote for their favourite Green Flag park.
You can vote here today.
Vote for the People’s Park and ask your friends and e-mail contacts to take part too!
(photograph of the meadow at sunset by the wonderful Simon Lea)
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