People's Park


Heritage Category:
Park and Garden
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
People's Park, Grimsby, DN32


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Statutory Address:
People's Park, Grimsby, DN32

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North East Lincolnshire (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
TA 26983 08349


A public park designed by William Barron and Sons and opened in 1883.

Reasons for Designation

People’s Park, Grimsby, opened in 1883, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Design: although enhanced, the park’s design is essentially unchanged from its original layout of the early 1880s; * Designer: the park was designed by the leading designers William Barron and Son and is a small but neat example of their style; * Historic interest: the park was and is a important element of one of the north of England’s great industrial cities, gifted to it by the Duke of Norfolk; * Planting: includes good specimen trees.


The need for a public park in Grimsby had been promoted from c 1860 and in 1869 the initiative was formalised in the 'Great Grimsby Improvement Act'. This empowered the council to put aside part of the Grimsby West Marsh Area for a public park. By c 1875 the land had been appropriated for other projects including the construction of a hospital and board school. At the end of 1881, after years of controversy and debate regarding potential sites and funding, it was agreed to accept an offer of land made by a local landowner and MP, Edward Heanage. In these discussions, Pearson Park, Hull (qv) had been referred to as a funding model where the gift of land from a landowner was given with the agreement that the Council would undertake the financial responsibility of establishing the infrastructure and laying out the park. The layout of People's Park also had similarities to Pearson Park in that both established an open relationship between park and surrounding houses, unimpeded by boundary walls or railings.

In 1882 the Council started to establish drainage and roads, and Mr Billing, the Superintendent of the Cemetery, organised the planting of c 700 trees including c 120 elms, c 240 limes, c 120 sycamores, and c 120 chestnuts. The trees were ordered and planted before the contract to lay out the grounds was awarded. Twenty-four designs were submitted for the tender and the winner, William Barron and Son of the Elvaston Nurseries, Derbyshire, was appointed in June 1882. The design was organised around a figure of eight circulation pattern. In the north the top loop contained the lake, mounds, and groups of tree and shrub planting which created a series of unfolding views as the visitor walked along the path. The south loop remained flatter and more open to provide the cricket pitch and other sporting and recreational facilities. The park was opened in August 1883 and remains (2013) in public use.


LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING People's Park lies at the heart of the residential area of south Grimsby. The c 9.3ha site is located within an area of substantial villa housing which dates from 1890 to 1930. Welholme Road marks the park's northern boundary, and the U-shaped Park Drive, designated as a private road when the park was opened, delineates the remainder of the park to the east, south, and west. The boundaries of the park are now almost totally open except for a fence and hedge which runs along the north-east boundary for c 130m to protect the aviary and Floral Hall. In 1883, Mr Bennie of Hull was instructed to enclose the main area of the park with iron railings. The 1889 OS map confirms that a barrier was erected along the length of the park's northern perimeter, segregating the park from the public road. A contemporary illustration from the Illustrated London News of 25 August 1883, commemorating the park's opening, shows what appears to be estate railings along the Welholme Road. Contrary to the 1883 Minutes there is no evidence that the remainder of the park was enclosed. The 1889 OS map shows no enclosure and subsequent editions continue to show an open relationship between the park and the once-private encircling Park Drive.

The site is principally flat and level, as is the surrounding land. Modulations of land however were created in the design, the most obvious being the mounds around the lake which were formed from the spoil resulting from its excavation. A number of groups of trees and shrubs are also present on raised ground, as is a double avenue, particularly in the south and west.

The park is delineated by a shin-high wooden railing, thus allowing pedestrian access and sight-lines into the park.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES The principal approach route from the town centre enters at the park's north-east corner but the open nature of the site and its location allows access directly into the park from all directions. At the time of its opening, the south and east margins were still agricultural land (OS 1st edition 1889), and the majority of users would have approached the park from Grimsby to the north via the north-east gate where the lodge, built c 1885-9, was situated. Gates were originally built at the east and west junctions of Park Drive and Welholme Road; these were removed in 1943, and in 1966 the lodge was demolished and replaced with a bungalow that is now partly hidden from view by mature shrubberies.

Three further entrance paths give access from the north-west corner, the west boundary, and the centre of the south boundary; a fifth path, introduced between 1908 and 1933, gives access from the centre of the east boundary. A path leads from the west to the bandstand which overlooks the cricket field to the east. The present (2013) bandstand was erected in 1995 and replaced a rustic timber construction which was demolished in 1993.

GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS The park is 'U' shaped on plan. A double avenue of trees, which formerly incorporated many elms, marks the park's perimeter. The majority of these were lost to Dutch elm disease in the 1970s and the avenues have subsequently been replaced. One notable wych elm still stands (2013) adjacent to the east entrance path.

Set within the avenue is the park's principal path. A circular route in a figure of eight configuration, it encompasses the lake to the north and the open grassland (originally designated as a cricket field) to the south. Shrubberies, planted on small mounds at path intersections, articulate the picturesque nature of the circulation. In between the shrubberies the planting around the cricket field in the southern half of the park in particular is restricted to specimen trees to allow the exchange of views across the site.

The 0.4ha informal lake lies in the northern half of the park and is part of the original layout. Water is supplied from boreholes that are drilled into the underlying chalk. The edge of the lake is constructed in stone setts, as are the margins of the three small islands. An asphalt path runs around most of the lake's perimeter. This path was introduced in the middle of the C20 and the original layout shows grass and copses running to the lake margins (OS 1889). The path at the west end of the lake is cut into the highest mound on the site, on the top of which stood one of the two bandstands (demolished between 1960 and 1990). The gentle slopes on the west of the mound are laid out as a formal bedding display, although it is likely that this area was once designed for the bandstand concert audiences. A tongue of land projects into the lake's southern margin. Brickwork delineated the footprint of the Refreshment Room on the grass, and two later C20 utilitarian toilet blocks stood either side of this; these were demolished and replaced c 2006.

In the north-west corner of the park, a sunken circular area is screened with mature shrubs and trees. Once the formal rose garden, the space is now (2013) restored back to the appearance of the small circular area, whilst the children's play facilities that once stood in there have been moved and updated providing better facilities (formerly at TA26890843 moved to TA26890834). Immediately to the south of the entrance to the circular enclosure, and easily viewed from the principal path, is the Smethurst Monument (listed Grade II), erected in 1894.

The north-east corner, between the figure of eight path and Welholme Road, is the only area of the park that is enclosed and access is restricted to one gate from the path to the north of the lake. The distinctive double avenue of trees has not been retained. Glasshouses constructed c 1889-1908 were replaced by the Floral Hall in 1975 (restored 2004). A flood warning mast and siren was constructed next to the Floral Hall c 2005.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:
Parks and Gardens


Books and journals
Shepherd, E R , Some Parks and Recreation Grounds in Grimsby, and their Origins , (1992)
'Illustrated London News' in , (28 August 1883)
Archival items
Late C19 photographs (Grimsby Library Archive)

E A W Peacock, Report on the Lake in the Public Park, Grimsby, 1 July 1916 (Grimsby Library Archive)
M Stanton, The Movement Towards Municipal Parks Provision in Grimsby During the 19th Century, May 1991,
Mid and late C20 photographs (Grimsby Library Archive)

People's Park Centenary Brochure (1983), p 3,
The Urban Parks Programme, People's Park, Grimsby (report to Heritage Lottery Fund, SGS, March 1998),


This garden or other land is registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 within the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by Historic England for its special historic interest.

End of official listing

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