Address given on the formal opening of the Park in 1897
His Worship the Mayor of Bath
His Worship the Mayor of Bath. The Town Clerk.
The Rector of Bath.
The Venerable Archdeacon of Bath. Clergy and Ministers.
City Council and Magistrates. Civic Officials.
The Board of Guardians. Jubilee Committee. Citizens.
The pressure of the crowd was so great that it was with difficulty that the procession could pass. Amid cheering, the central lawn was at length reached however, and the Mayor at once called upon Mr. Farwell who said:
Mr. Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen. It will be within the recollection of the Council that two years ago, during the mayoralty of Mr. Alderman Jolly, I was instructed by Captain Forester to make an offer to the city of the land on which we now stand and which is generally known as Henrietta Park, provided that certain conditions were complied with so that it should be dedicated and laid out as a public park. (Hear, hear.) Captain Forester, in making this offer, was actuated by a desire that the land should always remain as an open space and never be built upon. Open spaces are like the lungs in human beings—the very essence of life. The more breathing spaces a town can secure the healthier it must become, and this is especially of importance in a city like Bath, the resort of visitors and invalids. The conditions made by Captain Forester have now all been complied with, and the grounds, thanks to the unceasing care and labour of Mr. Morris, for he has spared neither time nor labour (applause), have been admirably laid out. The Mayor could not have selected a more appropriate day to throw them open to the public.
A day of holiday and rejoicing has given the citizens every opportunity of attending and judging for themselves of the value of this gift to the city. (Applause.) It only remains for me to hand over the deeds of gift, to express Captain Forester’s regret that he is unable to be present himself, and to request the Mayor to open the park and declare it open to the citizens. (Applause.)
Mr. J. W Morris, who was next called upon, said:
In the absence of the Chairman of the Pleasure Grounds Committee I am deputed to make a brief statement. The maps of the early guide book of this city show not only the streets actually built, but those which it was in contemplation presently to erect. The area of this park was thus mapped out for the construction of a grand square to be approached from Pulteney Street by way of Sunderland Street. Within the area of this Square about four times the size of Queen Square —-there was to be a large circular enclosure or garden. This is shown in every map of the period. It is not a little curious that the central lawn and circular path opened this day to the public should almost exactly correspond in position with the original design When this ambitious building scheme was abandoned, the void place was let out for cultivation, and was long known as Bathwick Park. It is thus designated on the map as late as 1860. The name of Henrietta subsequently found favour: family associations replacing the local designation. The generous bestowal of this domain by Captain Forester upon the city has imposed upon the Corporation the duty of laying it out suitably, and planting it with trees and shrubs for the public enjoyment. This duty has been entrusted to the Pleasure Grounds Committee, who have endeavoured to discharge their trust with a due regard to economy (laughter and applause), but ever with an earnest desire to do justice to the purpose of the generous donor and improve the advantages of a delightful neighbourhood. (Hear, hear.)
The work was taken in hand in September, 1896, and is now sufficiently advanced to make this new Pleasure Ground available for its future service, and it cannot but be a matter of congratulation that such an addition to the attractions of the city should be opened by your Worship on a day memorable henceforth in the annals of this Nation and Empire the day of National rejoicing over the Diamond Jubilee of our Gracious Sovereign Queen Victoria. The duty of the Committee being thus far discharged, we leave to the kindly development of nature and the fostering care of the Corporation the completion of a design which provides and promises so many advantages to this parish of Bathwick and to the city of Bath.” (Applause.)
The Mayor, in reply, said:
I do not purpose detaining you more than a few moments in this spot. We are all thankful and pleased that we have a fine day for our festivities. If it had not been so, I am afraid it would have spoiled everything that has been carried out to-day on behalf of the citizens. It is my very pleasant duty as Mayor of this fair city to express, on behalf of the Corporation and citizens, hearty acknowledgement of the munificent gift of Captain Forester of this beautiful park. (Applause.) I am sure I may say that this gift is a valuable addition to the attractions of our beautiful city, and will be fully appreciated by the inhabitants, particularly by those who reside in these parts. (Hear, hear.) I desire also to thank the Pleasure Grounds Committee for the great labours bestowed upon making this park so beautiful, and especially Mr. Morris, for the admirable manner in which these grounds have been laid out. They are elegant and attractive without being extravagant. I am pleased to see the Rev. Canon Quirk and the Venerable Archdeacon with us on this auspicious occasion. Allow me to again express the city’s great indebtedness to Captain Forester for his gift, and my deep regret at his inability to be with us to-day. (Applause.)
At another part of the park the Mayor then proceeded to plant a young oak tree. He expressed the hope that it would long survive to bear witness to their successors and the citizens of Bath, what had been done in celebration of the 60 th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s ever memorable reign. The oak was planted amid loud cheers, and the Mayor then formally declared the Park open, reminding the people once more of the generous donor to whom they were indebted for it. The procession afterwards re-formed, but before it passed out of the Henrietta Street entrance a pause was made before the marble tablet setting forth the circumstances under which the Park was given to the city. The inscription was unveiled and read to the Mayor by Mr. Morris, amid further cheering. A return was then made to the Guildhall, the Mayor being received with the greatest enthusiasm en route, and at his invitation the members of the procession partook of refreshments, while outside, the Volunteer Band drew up and contributed a selection of music.
While the service at the Abbey was in progress, an enormous concourse had assembled outside the railings of Henrietta Park, destined on this day of days to be formally dedicated to the public. Mr. Schottler’s Band rendered the tedium of waiting less irksome by a capital selection. The strains of the National Anthem at length announced the arrival of the procession which had been re-formed in the following order
I3 and the 1st V.B. Somerset L.I.
The Fire Brigade.
Guildhall Sergeants with Staffs.
The Mayor’s Officer.