Friday, 4 February 2011

HISTORICAL OVERVIEW


Ongoing research; last updated 12 July 2016

This volume continues the historical overview of Selly Oak Park; the earlier years having been reported in the previous histories (see the column on the right hand side of this page) and in the book, “The Heydays of Selly Oak Park”.  Again the clippings, listed in the column on the right, contain the more extensive detail upon which it is founded - information from Council committee minutes, newspaper reports, etc.


1941

War-time Arrangements:
The new Birmingham District Committee of the Warwickshire War Agricultural Executive Committee enquired what land under the control of the Parks Committee was suitable and available for the growing of food crops. A large number of sites in the parks and recreation grounds had already been taken up by the Royal Air Force for barrage balloons, and a number had also been taken over by the military authorities for gun sites, searchlight stations, etc. A considerable number of sites had also been taken for public air raid shelters, report centres, and other civil defence purposes. The Committee was also minded to retain actual playing field areas which were in fairly regular use at that time, together with tennis courts, bowling greens, and children’s playgrounds. They also had in mind the cost of re-instating grassed areas should they be given over for ploughing or allotments. In the end the Parks Committee identified 230 acres which could be cultivated. Seven acres in Selly Oak Park, in the "area between tar paved footpath and canal", were eventually listed as being available for the cultivation of potatoes. The remainder of the Park was "unsuitable for cultivation, having a gravelly sub-soil". The cultivation went ahead. This cultivated area was inspected by the Parks Committee in July.
In July the Chief Officer of the Birmingham Fire Brigade was granted permission, under the Fire Prevention Order 1941, to use the Park for fire pumping training exercises with Fire Watch parties, whenever he wished.
As part of the Air Raid Precautions there was a proposal by the City's Water Department to lay a 60" water main for fire fighting purposes through Senneley's Park and Selly Oak Park. It was argued that the line of the proposed main would cross the area that was under potato cultivation, so the pipeline would not be possible. The counter was that that need not prevent the project, it would merely delay progress until after the first harvest in the autumn. In the end, the necessary Government authority for the project was not received, and the project was dropped.
In September, the Home Guard was granted use the dressing rooms in the Park as operational Zone Headquarters, with permission to remove wooden partitions.


Staff:
On 24th February, Mr. R. Carter commenced work as a Park labourer on a weekly wage of £3. 4s. 0d.
On 3rd May, Mr. J. Village resigned as Park policeman, leaving of his own accord.
On 13th October, Mr. A. Caldicott commenced work as a park labourer on a weekly wage of £3. 7s. 0d.
Park Use:
During the year the Stonehouse Gang was formed - young people from the new housing estate at California. They made rapid progress and were widely recognised within the City as a model for youth. They formed several sports teams, and by the end of the year Selly Oak Park had become the home venue for their football matches.


1942

War-time Arrangements
Early in the year it was reported that the 6.5 acres of the Park that had been cultivated had yielded 42 tons of potatoes; and that it was intended to grow potatoes again this year. A governemnt grant of £10 per acre for growing the potatoes had also been received. Later in the year it was reported that - "Unfortunately, the season has not been a good one for keeping potatoes, and a considerable quantity of the Potatoes grown by the Department has gone bad and had to be disposed of as Pig Potatoes. The disease from which they suffered appears to have been very general throughout the Country. The severe weather also resulted in approximately 5 tons of Ware Potatoes having to be scrapped because of their having been frosted in the clamps.” (A correspondent - Mrs Beatrice Painter (see 1934 history) - in her memories of the Park as a small child remembered the poor quality potatoes that were produced from the Park.) Preparation was made for another potato crop for 1943.
The issue of the removal of railings came to the fore again. There was growing pressure from government sources that non-essential ironwork be collected for armament manufacture. It was argued that the gates and fence around Selly Oak Park should be retained since they were protecting the cultivated area of potatoes, and upon this basis strenuous efforts were made to resist their removal. Apart from the issues of trespass, damage and loss, it was also argued that the canal was a cause of danger and therefore another reason why the gates and railings should not be removed. Correspondence flowed thick and fast. But eventually it was all to no avail. Though Selly Oak Park had been the subject of specific objection, the railings and gates on the Gibbins Road frontage were required to be removed. There was a mechanism for limited compensation (- though the Government "hoped that the majority of owners will surrender their railings freely and that claims for compensation will be reduced to a minimum"!), and instructions were given that claims should be made. To the extent that their resources would allow, the City Police agreed to carry out additional supervision of the now unfenced park, meanwhile quotations were obtained for various types of cleft chestnut fencing to go in place of the railings.
Permission was given for Batteries of the 45th Royal Warwickshire Regiment to carry out rifle and marching exercises in the Park in the hours of daylight.
Last year, on 19th September, the Home Guard had requisitioned one set of dressing rooms in the Park. On 9th March this year, the Civil Engineering Officer at the University was given permission, for the Home Guard service, to construct a mortar gun emplacement approximately 7 feet square on the high ground near the concrete dressing rooms and overlooking the canal, the structure being 4 feet below the ground and 6 inches above the ground. Again compensation in regard of this latter arrangement was sought.


Staff:
On 5th October, a vacancy was filled by the appointment of Mr. G. Myatt as a Park Policeman, on a weekly wage of £3 14s.

Park Uses:
The Park remained the home venue for the football teams of the Stonehouse Gang and, as the season turned, for their cricket teams too.
1943

War-time Arrangements:
In April it was announced that the Barage Balloon site in Selly Oak Park had been de-requisitioned, and £95 compensation had been settled.
Whether it was the case in Selly Oak Park or not, there was a report that numerous complaints were being received from the general public and park-keepers of vandalism and hooliganism in parks, recreation grounds and street enclosures, especially in those from which the iron railings had been removed. Appeals were made for the Police to assist with extra patrolling, and for Head-teachers to give warnings to children against causing damage.
Preparations were made to grow 7 acres of oats in the Park in 1944.
During the summer, Government-introduced restrictions were placed on fuel used for heating glasshouses, Those used for food production could be heated; but only ten percent of the total cubic contents of those not used for food production could be heated. A survey was made of all glasshouses and heated frames in the City's parks and cemeteries. 78 units were identified; the smallest being the 12 ft x 8 ft (574 cubic feet) glasshouse at Selly Oak Park.


Staff:
In March, the wages of Mr. Tarr, the Park-keeper were increased by 2s. 6d. per week from £5. 8s. 9d. (which included 15s. 6d. War bonus), with 19s. 3d. deducted for house, fuel and light.
There was a heavy turnover of staff in this year:
On 1st March, Mr. W. Hadley commenced work as a Park labourer on a wage of £3. 11s. 6d. He resigned on 8th April, leaving of his own accord.
On 19th April, Mr. J.T. Crow commenced work as a Park labourer also on a wage of £3. 11s. 6d.
On 13th May, Mr. G. Myatt, the Park Policeman, who commenced work only last October, resigned, leaving of his own accord because of ill-health.
On 21st June, Mr. E.W. West commenced work as a Park labourer on a weekly wage of £3. 13s. 6d., but by the 1st July he had been dismissed because of unsatisfactory service.
On 30th October, Mr. H. Ferkins, resigned, leaving of his own accord.

Park use:
The various sections of the Stonehouse Gang continued to hold football and cricket matches in the Park.  On 21st August their Junior Sports were held there. 


1944

War-time Arrangements:
In the autumn it was reported that it was proposed to grow 7 acres of autumn wheat in the Park in 1945.
In October, the City began to address the need for more housing. It was declared that 5,000 temporary houses were needed in Birmingham, and that their anticipated life span was no more than ten years, by which time permanent housing would have been provided. The question arose as to where best to build such temporary accommoadation - obviously not on sites which would eventually be required for permanent houses. It was desirable that they should be erected alongside existing roads where services were already provided. Undeveloped open spaces were needed - where better than in parks which bordered roads. And so lists of possible sites were drawn up. Selly Oak Park appeared on the list, the proposed 160 yards of frontage being sufficient for 14 of the so called Portal Houses (which became known as Prefabs). However the Park escaped its share of prefabs - it being noted that "this park was a gift to the City, and contains restrictive covenants in regard to buildings. The City Surveyor’s representative has provisionally agreed that it should be omitted from the proposals".
Staff:
This year saw more pay rises:
The Park-keeper, Mr. Tarr, who had entered the Park's service back in January 1911, received an Imporved Service payment of 2s. per week, as did Mr. W. Abbey, a garden labourer, who had entered service in April 1925.
Mr. J.D. Slater, a member of the manual staff, a Park labourer, also received a 2s. per week increase on his wage of £3 15s. 6d. (which included 19s. 6d. per week War Bonus).
Having increased the wages of trained gardeners, there was then a perceived need to increase the remuneration of park-keepers and foremen. So at Selly Oak Park, Mr. Tarr's wages, listed as £3 16s. 6d (plus emoluments valued at 19/3d.), were increased by a further 3s. 6d.; whilst his foreman, Mr. Leonard Charlton, on £3 2s. 0d received an increase of 5s. 3d. It was subsequently realised that Mr. Charlton was amongst a group of foreman who, despite their increases, were still below the specified rate for the highest grade of trained gardeners. So he received a further increase of 6s. per week.
On 17th April, Mr. W.H. Stanley commenced work as a Park labourer on a weekly wage of £3 15s. 6d.
On 8th May, Mr. R. O'Leary commenced work as a Park Policeman on a weekly wage of £3 19s. 6d., but by 17th June he had resigned of his own accord.
On 24th July, Mr, J.G. Styles, started work at the Park as a temporary Parks Policeman (his post would be made permanent in February 1947).
On 20th August, Mr. B. Newman commenced work as a Park Policeman on a weekly wage of £3 19s. 6d.
On 13th November, Mr. J. Edney commenced work as a Garden labourer on a weekly wage of exactly £4.
Park Uses:
On 17th September, the Park was used between 2 p.m. and 4.30 p.m. for open-air religious services, held by the Air Raid Precautions Department.
1945

Park Environment:
In the Spring there was increassing pressure for the release of land which was being cultivated to be restored to its original recreational purposes. The general Government response was to resist the immediate release, expecting the change-over to take place over two or three years when the war with Germany was over. However it was acknowledged that special cases might be made to be considered at the highest Government level on their individual merits. The restoration and reseeding of Selly Oak Park was on the first list drawn up for consideration. It was subsequently agreed that an autumn wheat crop could be undersown with grass in preparation for the restoration. In October it was reported that the cropping proposed was for oats and then 2 years ley.
The Water Department was given permission of lay a 1" service pipe from the main in Gibbins Road across the Park to a Water Department sluice valve chamber.
Selly Oak Park was included in the annual inspection by members of the Parks Committee on 22nd August.

Staff:
Another large turnover of staff was reported:
On 5th March, Mr. Edney, who had commenced work as a garden labourer only last November, was dismissed because of continual absence owing to illness.
On 16th April, Mr. S. Wheller commenced work as a Garden labourer, on a weekly wage of £4 exactly.
On 7th May, Mr. A.F. Caldicott resigned his post of Garden labourer of his own accord.
On 22nd May, Mr. T. Taylor commenced work as a Garden labourer, again on a weekly wage of just £4.
On 16th June, Mr. B. Newman resigned his post of Park Policemen, leaving of his own accord, after less than a year of service.
On 2nd July, Mr. G.V. James commenced work as a park policeman, on a weekly wage of 4 guineas (£4. 4s. 0d.).
On 11th August, Mr. W.H. Stanley resigned his role of Garden labourer, leaving of his own accord after just about 16 month's service.
On 12th September, Mr. A.G. Collins commenced work as a Garden labourer, on the standard wage of £4.
On 10th November, two Garden labourers left of their own accord - Mr. A. Field and Mr. T. Taylor (the latter having only served for 6 months).


Park uses:
Towards the end of 1944 various initiatives, such as “Brighter Birmingham”* and “Holidays at Home”, were fostered by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham to boost morale in the City during the wartime. The Holidays at Home entertainment season extended over a ten week period, stretching from 16th June until 25th August. During this time, six of the larger Birmingham Parks had a full ten week programme of entertainments, whilst 13 of the smaller ones, including Selly Oak, had a programme stretching over a fortnight. It seems that this two week period variously wrapped around the August Bank Holiday week. Marquees and staging were erected in the parks for the purpose. However, later in the year it was reported that "the appreciation shown by the public was somewhat disappointing". This was ascribed to the relaxation of travelling restrictions, which allowed people to take holidays away from Birmingham and the parks, and the Peace Celebrations which attracted many people to the City centre and the streets. In Selly Oak Park there had been 22 events, drawing a total attendance of only 2,252, with total receipts of £57 6s. Changed days from when the Park accommodated more than 10,000 in one day (e.g. in 1900). Indeed the General Manager of the City Parks commented - "I think it would be inadvisable to continue the entertainments at Acocks Green, King’s Norton, Perry Hall, Queen’s, Selly Oak, Summerfield, Victoria Common, and Yardley, unless a strong and enthusiastic local organization would undertake to assist in carrying out any programme that might be arranged."
In December Selly Oak Park was included in a list of 20 parks for which it was agreed to invite tenders for the right of providing fun fairs for 6 months from the 25th March to the 29th September, 1946. 



1946

Park Environment:
In June it was intimated that the Air Raid Precaution shelters in twelve of the parks and recreation grounds (including Selly Oak Park) had been, or were being demolished, and that the sites were being inspected with a view to claims being prepared for submission to the appropriate Government Authorities for compensation for the restoration of the disturbed surfaces.  It was pointed out that the work of restoration could not be completed for at least twelve months owing to the settlement of the ground disturbed.
At the end of July, the General Manager of the City Parks received a report that the Air Raid Precautions Control Centre in Selly Oak Park was being used as a Wardens’ Club.  He communicated with the Acting Air Raid Precautions Officer, who confirmed the use of the building for club purposes, and expressed regret that when the matter had been reported to the Civil Defence Committee the fact that the building was on Parks Department land had been overlooked.  It transpired that the Home Office had notified all Local Authorities that while they were not yet in a position to give directions regarding the new Civil Defence Service which was proposed to be set up, such authorities should make every endeavour to maintain contact with all Civil Defence Clubs and organisations in their area, since it was those personnel which would have to form the nucleus of the future organisation.  The Home Office had also asked that wherever possible, buildings especially constructed for Civil Defence purposes should be loaned to such clubs on a rent free basis, with the understanding that the club or organisation bore the cost of all outgoing expenses, such as rates, lighting, heating, cleaning, etc.  In view of this, the Civil Defence Committee had agreed for the “B” Division South, Civil Defence Wardens’ Association, with a membership of five hundred, to have the use of the A.R.P. Control Centre in Selly Oak Park in which to hold their meetings.  It appears that the Parks Committee took a dim view of this and resolved that the Civil Defence Committee be informed that the Parks Committee objected to the use of the A.R.P. Control Centre in Selly Oak Park as a Wardens’ Club and (Ed. comment - throwing its weight around?) that it required the removal of all existing control centres and other buildings erected for Civil Defence purposes in Parks and Recreation Grounds in order that these could revert to their proper use and enjoyment by the public at the earliest possible date.  (The Parks Committee would subsequently have to cede on this matter!)
We learn from a report in July that, as proposed last year, 7 acres of the park were reseeded

Staff:
With effect from the 2nd February, the servcies of Mr. G.V. James, a Parks Policeman, were no longer required; he had served for exactly 6 months.
And on the 4th May, Mr. A.E. Millward, another Parks Policeman, left of his own accord.
On the 13th October, Mr. A.R.Tarr, the Park Keeper, reached the age of 65 years and was retired on superannuation.  However, with effect from the following day he was temporarily re-engaged in the same post on a wage of £5. 14s. 0d., plus emoluments.

Park uses:
Mr Robert Wilson won a tender, amounting to £6,500, for the privilege of holding fun fairs in the parks and recreation grounds (including Selly Oak Park) for six months from 25th March 1946 to 29th September 1946.

A prosecution was recorded in October.  Mr. Edward E. Smith was fined 60/- for indecent exposure in the Park on the 25th May.



1947

This is the year that Selly Oak Park became a Grade 3 Park within the City's grading scheme (see Staff)

Park Environment:
Last year it was announced that various Air Raid Precaution buildings were being removed from the parks and compensation sought for restoration of the sites to make them fit for recreational use again.  In January it was announced that a claim for £52. 18s. 6d. had been submitted in relation to a building listed as "Selly Oak Park, Harborne Lane (T.20)".
Carried into this year was the issue of the A.R.P. Control Centre being retained for a Warden's Club  (a move resisted by the Parks Committee - see 1946 above).  As early as January 1947 the Parks Committee had to concede that the Civil Defence Committee should be authorized to retain the use of the premises in the Park, for a period not exceeding 5 years, on the understanding that the Civil Defence Committee immediately proceeded to take the necessary steps to improve the general appearance and state of repair of the premises, to the satisfaction of the Parks Committee (- something of a climb down after the latter's original stance).
In March a survey was made of the state of the staff residences in the Parks.  Selly Oak Park Lodge (in Gibbins Road) was shown to be in need of attention to some external brickwork and some window frames, whilst its interior structure was described as "fair".  As far as its decoration was concerned, externally it was "fair" and internally it was "generally fair".  The Lodge in Harborne Lane needed a little more attention - some attention to external stone and brickwork was necessary and the window frames needed refitting; the interior structure was "fair".  The exterior decoration was "poor", whilst the interior decoration was "fair except for (the) living room".  The Parks Committee decided to put in place arrangements to make the properties “wind and water tight” and carry out the necessary decorations.
There was a damaging gale on Sunday, 16th March; Selly Oak Park suffered with two trees being blown down and six panels of fencing destroyed.  Remedial work was put in hand.

Staff:
With effect from the 4th January, Master A. Kirk (aged 14 years), resigned his position as a Garden Boy.
With effect from the 27th January, Mr. W. Abbey, a Trained Gardener (b), (by now 47 years of age, and having entered service on the 1st April 1925), was awarded 2/- per week Improved Service Pay.
With effect from 3rd February, Mr. J.G. Styles, who had entered service in the Park as a Parks Policeman on 24th July, 1944, was moved onto the permanent staff.
With effect from 10th February, Mr. L. Gilks (40), a Garden Labourer (b), who had entered service on 31st October 1938, was regraded to Gardener (S.s).
Following a Parks Committee meeting at the end of March a new grading structure was put in place, with effect from 10th January, for Officers-in-charge and Foremen of parks and recreation grounds. To achieve this the City's parks were graded into 6 Grades. The Grade 1 Parks were to be those in the charge of Non-Manual Superintendents. The next three grades would apply to parks and recreation grounds in the charge of Manual Park-keepers. The fifth and sixth grades would apply to recreation grounds only, Grade 5 recreation grounds being those which provided certain horticultural amenities, and Grade 6 being those which could be staffed by personnel having no gardening knowledge whatsoever. Salary scales for the officers-in-charge and the foremen were then set for the different grades of parks. The outcome of this was that Selly Oak Park became a Grade 3 Park, and that Mr. A.R. Tarr, the Park-keeper, and Mr. L. Charlton, his Foreman, found themselves on new pay scales.
Thus backdated to 10th January, Mr. Tarr found himself at the minimum point on a new scale, with a weekly wage of £6. 0s. 0d. (plus emoluments of 19s. 3d. per week); the basic scale having increments up to £7. 0s. 0d. per week.
And, again backdated to 10th January, Mr. Charlton found himself with a 4s. 3d. pay rise from £5. 13. 3d. to £5. 17s. 6d. which was the minimum on a scale rising to £6. 0s. 0d.
With effect from the 5th May, Mr. W. Hunt (aged 28 years) began work in the Park as a Garden labourer (a) on a weekly wage of £4. 16s. 0d.  Mr. Hunt was moved on to the permanent staff with effect from the 25th August.
In July it was reported that Mr. A.R. Tarr (the Park-keeper, who had retired on superannuation last year, but had carried on in a temporary capacity) had been absent from work for several months owing to illness and was unlikely to be fit for duty for a considerable time.  Authority was granted for his services to be terminated, and for the vacancy to be circularised to all employees of the Department.
As a result of the internal advertising and interviews,  Mr. A.J. Markham (aged 40 years), who was the Gardener Foreman at Lodge Hill Cemetery, was appointed Park Keeper at Selly Oak Park, and his wages increased from £5. 17. 6. per week to £6. 19. 3. per week, plus 3/- per week Improved Service Pay.


1948

This is the year in which the Park was regraded to a Grade 2 Park (see Staff)
Park Environment
In January it was agreed that electric lights should be installed in the Gibbins Road Lodge and in the staff messroom; also that a sink and water supply be provided for the messroom.
Concern was expressed about the unfenced condition of the park at the canal boundary.  It was claimed that when ice was on the canal men, whose services could hardly be spared, had to be detailed to prevent children gaining access to the canal from the park.  Permission was granted for the erection of 4’6” chestnut fencing, with a single strand of barbed wire along the top, along the boundary of the Park.
In July, the new Park-keeper, Mr. Markham, asked that consideration be given to building a bathroom on the lodge.  He explained that there were only two bedrooms in the house.  Originally there had been three, but one was converted to a bathroom.  He had a mixed family – three girls, aged 17, 14 and 4 years, and two boys aged 16 and three months, and the older boy had to use the bathroom as a bedroom (“which is not good for him owing to the dampness from the use of the bath, and is a nuisance to the girls using the bathroom”).  His case was favourably considered and the requested conversion took place.

Staff
With effect from 5th January, Mr. A.J.E. Walker (aged 59 years) was employed as a Garden Labourer on a salary of £4. 14s. 0d. per week.
With effect from 7th January, Mr. G.D. Young (aged 27 years) was employed as a Garden Labourer also on a salary of £4. 14s. 0d. per week.
With effect from 17th April, Mr. A.G. Watts (aged 22 years) was employed as a Garden Labourer also on a salary of £4. 14s. 0d. per week.
With effect from 1st June, the salary of the Park-keeper, Mr. A.J. Markham (who had been in post for just 7 months and was taking home £6. 19s. 3d. [including emoluments] and 3/- per week Improved Service Pay) was increased by 2/6d. per week.
With effect from 5th July, Mr. K.G. Boraston, aged 20 years, having entered service at the park as a Garden Labourer on 24th November 1947, was declared to have completed his probationary period and appointed to the Permanent Staff of the Parks Department; but by the 6th December 1948 it was reported that he had resigned his post.
With effect from 19th August, Mr. R.F. Barker (aged 20 years) was employed as a Garden Labourer on a salary of £5. 0s. 0d. per week.
On 1st November it was reported that Mr. W. Hunt (aged 29 years) had resigned from his post as a Garden Labourer; he had only entered service on 7th August of this year.
With effect from the 7th December, Mr. H.J. Salmon (aged 17 years) commenced work as a Garden Boy on a weekly wage of £2. 5s. 0d. (See 1949 clippings.)

Park Use
In June the existing arrangement for exercising dogs in the park was re-affirmed; namely that dogs could be exercised off leash up until 10 a.m. and for one hour before the time fixed for the Park’s closing, but only in the area alongside the canal.
Memories

Alton Douglas, Birmingham

Correspondence, 9 July 2010

My brother’s late father-in-law was the Park-keeper there in the late 40’s (Mr. Hughes*) and when my father died, in 1948, I was sent there for the funeral period (kids didn’t go to funerals in those days).

(* Compiler's note after research in 2014:
In the late 1940s Mr. Markham was park-keeper at Selly Oak; Mr. Hughes (Park-keeper at Bournville Park) was appointed Park-keeper at Selly Oak in June 1950 when Mr. Markham was appointed Superintendent at Highbury Park.)


1949

Finance
Miss M. Richardson was paid £4. 4s. 0d to cover her subsistence and travelling expenses whilst she acted as a Chief Marshal during the four week season of Entertainments in the Park (see below).
Staff
With effect from the 5th January, Mr. K.W. Willis (aged 19 years) commenced work as a Garden Boy on a weekly wage of £3. 15s. 0d.
With effect from the 14th February, Mr. A.G. Watts, a Garden Labourer (a) with 10 months service and earning £5. 0s. 0d. per week, was regraded to Garden Labourer (b), and his weekly wage was increased to £5. 3s. 11d. per week.  On the 5th December he was appointed to the Permanent Staff.
With effect from the 11th April, Mr. A.N. Meek (aged 29 years) commenced work as a Garden Labourer (a) on a weekly wage of £5. 0s. 0d.  However at the end of his second week in work (on 23rd April) he resigned.
With effect from the 11th May, Mr. F.J. Dawe (aged 38 years) commenced work as a Garden Labourer (a) on a weekly wage of £5. 0s. 0d.
On the 21st May, Mr. H.J. Salmon (aged 18 years) resigned his post of Garden Boy.
With effect from the 24th July, Mr. J.G. Styles (aged 54 years), a Parks Policeman with 5 years’ service, received an Improved Service Pay award of 1/- per week.
The employment of Mr. J. Shaler (aged 67 years), a night watchman engaged for the Entertainments in the Park season (see below), ceased on 23rd August, since his services were no longer required once all the especially brought-in equipment had been removed from the park.
With effect from the 14th November, Mr. J.T. Elliott (aged 16 years) commenced work as a Garden Boy on a weekly wage of £2. 10s. 0d. 

Park Uses
Selly Oak Park was included in the City’s annual Entertainments in the Park programme for the first time.  The programme brought a wide range of public entertainment (serious plays, comedies, reviews, music, etc.) to 9 of the major City parks, and at the most prestigious parks (e.g. Cannon Hill and Handsworth) the programme ran for 10 weeks.  As a trial, activities were arranged at Selly Oak Park for the 4 weeks from 27th June to 23rd July; it replaced Lightswood Park where in the last season there had been opposition to some of the events.  A marquee, 140’ x 40’, seating about 500 people after allowing stage space and gangways, was hired (for £300) from Stringers for the period.  Amplifying equipment - 1 Amplifier approx. 20 watts output, 2 Loudspeakers, 1 Gramophone Unit, 1 Microphone with stand – was also hired (for £35. 10s. 0d.) from Walker Bros. (Electrical Engineers) Ltd. (who had provided equipment for the Entertainments season in previous years).  The New Dramatic Company was engaged (at a fee of £17. 17s. 0d.) to give a performance of “My Sister Eileen” by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorev, in the park on the 9th July.  We eventually learn that 221 people attended the performance and paid £10. 17s. 0d. for the privilege (which obviously did not cover the company’s fee, let alone other costs! – not auguring well for any future provision at the park).
It was reported that by the 30th June – just 4 days into the four week season in the park – there had been 4 events, with a total attendance of 945 (an average of 236 per event) which had yielded £41. 4s. 0d.  However, it was reported at the end of the year that “Selly Oak Park operated for the first time this year for four weeks during the early part of the season.  Results were below the average of other parks, but it is considered that a further trial might be made next year for four weeks during the holiday period” – and accordingly 24th July to 19th August were specified for 1950.          
Other uses:
On the 7th, 14th and 21st August, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society held afternoon (3 p.m.) religious meetings in the park.
In May approval was given for members of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade to be on duty near the cricket pitches at 15 City parks and recreation grounds - amongst them Selly Oak Park - whilst cricket matches were in progress on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  This seems to have been an offer from the Ambulance Brigade, and was taken up in the light of a large number of injuries that were being reported in the parks generally.
The Bye-laws governing the parks only permitted informal games of football and cricket “in such parts of the park and at such times as may from time to time be prescribed by a notice or notices affixed or set up by the Council in a conspicuous position within the park”.  There was no uniform practice in the parks and recreation grounds regarding the areas on which casual games of cricket and football could be played.  In July it was decided that, in view of the danger to members of the public, particularly small children, and interference with general recreational facilities, certain areas should be allocated for such games, and notices should be displayed indicating the areas allocated.  The Corisande Road side of the park was identified and signposted.  This arrangement was “not intended to apply to small children playing with a soft ball, which practice could be left to the discretion of the Officer-in-Charge who would have to have regard to any nuisance occasioned by such play and the risk of damage to horticultural features, property, etc.”
A number of serious accidents occurred in the park, following which the injured parties were sent to hospital for treatment:-
On 19th February, Ronald Fielding (28) sustained a suspected fracture to his right foot whilst playing football.
On 25th July, Joyce Leonard (10) was bitten by a dog whilst trying to stroke it – her left cheek, and right lower cheek were bitten.
On 26th September, Roger Dearlove (11) sustained a suspected fractured rib whilst playing football.
On 31st December, Alan Pritchard (16) fractured his right wrist whilst playing football.
There was a prosecution - Arthur Fridden (14) was fined 5/- for cycling during prohibited hours in the park on 22nd August.




A summer theatre in one of Birmingham's parks
- illustrating how the one held in Selly Oak Park may have looked. 



1950

Park Environment
In April, authority was given for the dismantling of bandstands in 15 City parks – including that in Selly Oak Park – on the basis of their unsuitability for current use, their dilapidated state, and their interference with park layout and recreational needs.  The description and justification for the removal of the bandstand at Selly Oak was “18 ft. Octagon.  Too small for normal band concerts or entertainments.  Sheet iron roof and appearance generally non-ornamental.  Space could be used for extension of cricket and football area.”  At the end of July a tender for the demolition of the bandstands was accepted and the work went ahead.
In May, the Park was included with 38 others, in a list of City parks where monies were collected from various activities, but where there was no appointed place for the safe-keeping of the money between weekly collections by the Treasurer’s Department.  Any monies had to be kept by the park-keeper or officer–in-charge, and it was considered that this tended to “place unnecessary temptation in the way of low salaried employees and to open up an avenue for defalcations”.  To remedy the situation small safes were provided at the parks.
In July it was reported that Selly Oak Park was one of ten parks for which the General Manager was authorised to invite tenders by public advertisement for the rights of catering by means of mobile canteens.
At the end of July, Selly Oak Park was listed with 47 other parks as having a children’s playground; the playground area was listed as 310 sq. yds.  Under the Education Act 1944 there appeared to be financial provision for the maintenance of children’s playgrounds, and the General Manager of the Parks Department was required to liaise with the Chief Education Officer, since it was thought that the Education Department may not be willing to accept the financial responsibility of maintaining such a formidable list of playgrounds.  In November it was reported that £194 needed to be spent to restore the equipment in Selly Oak Park, with an annual maintenance requirement of £95.
On the 26th September a letter was received from the solicitor representing the Birmingham Battery and Metal Co. Ltd. notifying that the Company was offering a further 2.19 acres of land as another extension of the Park, on the same terms as the previous gifts had been made.  This was an area behind the houses 52-62 Gibbins Road, which had been part of the Battery Company’s Sports Ground.
Finance
Mr. D. Jones was paid £4. 4s. 0d. to cover his subsistence and travelling expenses whilst he acted as a Chief Marshal during the evenings of the four week season of Entertainments in the Park (see below).
Amongst the budgeted routine expenditure, £99. 0s. 0d. was spent on 9 cwt. of grass seed for the football area in the park.
In the autumn, 6 sets of football goal nets, costing £64. 10s. 0d., were bought for the Park.
Staff
On the 28th February, Mr. J. Dix (aged 58 years), employed as a semi-skilled Gardener at the park, died from Tetanus poisoning.  Mr. Dix had sustained a slight injury at the park on the 10th February, which was treated at the park.  He subsequently attended his own doctor and Selly Oak Hospital.  After further treatment he was admitted to Selly Oak Hospital on the 23rd February, suffering from Tetanus.  The Coroner returned a verdict of Death by Misadventure.
With effect from the 10th April, Master J. Eagles (aged 15 years) commenced work as a Garden Boy on a weekly wage of £2. 0s. 0d.
With effect from the 13th April, Mr. W.C. Haste (aged 20 years) commenced work as a Garden Boy on a weekly wage of £4. 10s. 0d.
With effect from the 12th June, Mr. A.J. Markham, Park-keeper at Selly Oak Park, was appointed Parks Superintendent at Highbury Park at a salary of £420 including emoluments valued at £70 per annum, in accordance with A.P.T. Division I of the National Scales.  This was a substantial promotion for Mr. Markham who as a consequence would have responsibility for a number of parks in the area.
To fill Mr. Markham’s post, again with effect from the 12th June, Mr. J.E. Hughes, Park-keeper at Bournville Park, was appointed Park-keeper at Selly Oak Park at a wage of £8. 0s. 0d. per week including emoluments valued at £50 per annum.                        
Beginning on 22nd July, and ending on the 20th August, Mr. J. Shaler (67) was employed as a Night Watchman for the Entertainments in the Park; he was paid 15s 3d. per night.  This was the second year he had undertaken these duties.

Park uses
The programme of Entertainments in the Parks again included Selly Oak Park.  At the end of 1949 it was reported that Selly Oak Park had operated for the first time that year for four weeks during the early part of the season.  The results were below the average of other parks, but it was considered that a further trial should be made in 1950 for four weeks during the holiday period.  And so it was that activity occurred this year during the period 24th July to 19th August.  In October it was reported that The New Dramatic Company had staged their play “Clutterbuck”, on two Saturday evenings when the attendances (and receipts) were 147 (and £8. 2s. 0d.) and 658 (and £36. 19s. 0d.) – the former being a wet evening.  At the end of the year it was reported that the average attendance at the summer theatre in the park had been just 201 – and “Selly Oak Park has now operated for two seasons, and both the early and later parts of the summer have been tried with equally disappointing results.  It is suggested that the entertainments might be withdrawn from this park”!

On a more positive note, at the end of the year, plans were being made for the 1951 programme of entertainments in the parks, which would be part of the Festival of Britain celebrations.  Selly Oak Park was listed as one where side shows and light fun fairs (e.g. hand operated apparatus) could be held; and the Selly Oak Carnival was anticipated again.

In May an application was made by the residents in Selly Oak for permission to stage certain Carnival activities in the Park during the week commencing 4th June - reviving a former custom in the Selly Oak district and raising funds for the Bournbrook branch of the “Sons of Rest” and other charities.  They asked permission to hold a Drumhead service in the bandstand area at the Park at 8 p.m. on Sunday, 4th June, and they wished to have the exclusive use of the park from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, 10th June, for the purpose of holding children’s sports, a parade of decorated vehicles, a fancy dress parade and a Jazz Band competition.  They wished to have dancing on the Green during the evening.  They sought permission to hold a fun fair, consisting of 400 – 500 ft. of side-shows, a cycle roundabout and “dodgem” cars, to operate in the park until 11 p.m. on both Friday, 9th June, and Saturday, 10th June.  They estimated that between 6,000 and 7,000 people would attend the activities in the park during the Saturday, and they wanted to make a charge for admission to the park of 6d. for adults and 3d. for children.  They also asked to be authorised to make their own private arrangements for the provision of light refreshments.  The Parks Department granted the use of only part of the park for the Carnival; admission could not be charged for entrance to the park, but only to certain enclosures; a general Fun Fair was not allowed, but side-shows were as long as there was no mechanical or amplified gramophone music; refreshment stalls were allowed.  The whole event was run under the general supervision of the Parks Department.  In October it was reported that the carnival had been held as part of the Entertainments in the Parks programme, and that the event on the 10th June had been a “very successful day ... enjoyed by nearly 16,000 people”.

During 1949 experimental cricket pitches – having a concrete base overlaid with matting (replacing grass pitches which were becoming badly worn as a result of the demand for their use, and the lack of grass recovery time between matches) - were constructed in several parks and their suitability trialled during the season.  In February 1950, the Birmingham Public Parks Cricket Association announced that they proposed to sponsor a coaching scheme during the coming season, using the experimental pitches, and recommended that such a pitch should also be laid down in Selly Oak Park.  The Parks Committee subsequently approved the construction of a double bay pitch at the park; deciding that an experiment be made with marl instead of concrete in the construction of the pitch.  It was argued that by using marl it would be less costly and it would be possible to change the site of the pitch from year to year.  Having got the pitch, the Association hoped that Warwickshire County Staff Members would act as coaches on the opening evening of their programme, and thereafter assistance would be sought from Professionals attached to the Birmingham League Clubs and the Association’s own leading players.

In May 1949 approval was given for members of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade to be on duty near the cricket pitches at 15 City parks and recreation grounds - amongst them Selly Oak Park - whilst cricket matches were in progress on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. In June of 1950 it was observed that this service had not been very successful.  After discussions the Ambulance Brigade conceded their inability to cope with all the demands.  They “hoped” to provide cover for Selly Oak Park on Saturdays between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., and on Sundays between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., during the school holiday period from the 22nd July until the 10th September.
Serious accidents occurred in the park, following which the injured parties were sent to hospital for treatment:-
On the 11th March, Ronald Nash (24) sustained a compact fracture of his right leg whilst playing football.
On 9th December, also playing football, Norman Slater (14) sustained a laceration over his right eyebrow.



Memories
In April 2014, Douglas Salt shared the following memory of the time around 1950:-
"I can remember the Carnival Procession came down Dawlish Road and up the Bristol Road to Selly Oak Park. The procession consisted of floats on the backs of lorries. The horses used by the local milkmen were dressed up and adorned with highly polished brasses. The procession was lead by the Carnival Queen seated on her throne and surrounded by flowers."