Dartmouth Park is the main park for West Bromwich, lying to the north east of the town centre. The land for the park was granted to the people of West Bromwich by the Earl of Dartmouth, designed by John Maclean following a competition, and opened by the Earl in 1878. It is now Grade II listed in the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens in England.
The park is situated on the side of a hill, looking out across the woods and fields of the Sandwell Valley, Sandwell’s largest open space. Always a popular park, over the years it had become run down and had lost many of its original features.
Artas-ua.info Architectural Services’ involvement began in 2007. Recognising its duty to protect the council’s heritage assets from further decline, LAS, on behalf of its client, produced a successful feasibility study to obtain Heritage Lottery Funding to develop restoration proposals. A ‘Round 2’ bid was submitted in 2008, with further HLF funding awarded for the delivery of the scheme to completion. Against national competition, LAS was chosen to detail up this final phase.
Community involvement was integral, with specialist consultants, Community First Partnership, engaged throughout the process.
The works began on site in 2010, were undertaken in two phases and completed in early 2015. The main elements include:
- Boundary walls, railings and gates restored or re-built, including a new gate at the closest point to the town centre.
- The war memorial, with its fine bronze sculpture of Winged Victory, cleaned and restored.
- Footpaths throughout the park repaired and resurfaced, with the addition of extra paths to facilitate access in the steeper sections.
- Lighting installed along the main route through the park, improving the link between the town and the Sandwell Valley country park.
- The original stone drinking fountain and park benches recreated from historic photos.
- Extensive improvements to the pools, including a new landing stage and viewing platform at the lower pool, and fishing platforms at the upper pool.
- Play area improvements, including the borough’s first water play splash pad. This recreates in a modern form the much missed paddling pools of an earlier era.
- A new car park for public use, and a new grounds maintenance depot.
- Arboricultural works throughout the park to remove diseased or overcrowded trees and to open up views.
- An ambitious park-wide planting scheme.
- A sensory garden at the centre of the park. This was specifically requested by the Sandwell Visually Impaired Group and the Friends of Dartmouth Park who raised money towards it and now look after it.
As part of a separate commission a new community pavilion with viewing tower was constructed on the site of the original refreshment rooms which had been burnt down.
Approximate Map Location
Artas-ua.info Architectural Services
West Bromwich, West Midlands
Sandwell MBC Parks & Green Spaces Services
|Type of scheme||
Historic park restoration
Parks and gardens
Restoration of a Grade II listed historic park.
Sandwell MBC Dartmouth Park Project Officer
Heritage Lottery Fund with match funding from Sandwell MBC
Drinking fountain – Cliveden Conservation
Historic benches – Lost Art Limited
Gates & railings – new and refurbished – Steelway Fensecure
Reproduction ‘aged’ bricks – Furness Bricks
Pool edge stabilisation – Salix ‘Rock Rolls’
Erosion control: Terram ‘Erocell 25/10’ geotextile cellular confinement system
Japanese knotweed was identified early on in certain areas of the park, and a programme of eradication and prevention of its spread was developed.
Extensive arboricultural works were undertaken on an ageing tree population.
New tree planting to recreate historic clumps and enhance the arboretum
Native woodland under-storey planting and management
Pool and wetland meadow planting
Extensive bulb planting
Shrubs & herbaceous planting, including the ‘sensory garden’ maintained by volunteers
Victorian bedding displays focussed on the Memorial Avenue and the entrances
Mansells, (restoration: phase 1) GF Tomlinson, (restoration: phase 2) SSP Water & Play, (water play area) Stone Central, (restoration of the Grade II listed war memorial and Herbert Street entrance) Home Farm Nursery, (play area, sensory garden and planting works) Wolverhampton Tree Service (arboricultural works) Beechwood Trees & Artas-ua.infos Ltd (arboricultural works)