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10) Who worked in our park?

Article Index

  1. 10) Who worked in our park?
  2. Sources of information
  3. Activities in school
  4. Activities during your visit
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Who worked in our park?

1) Background information

The council, through an elected parks and gardens committee, oversaw all matters concerning the parks in the town. The committee met regularly and their duties included monitoring and approving expenditure.

The parks superintendent was responsible for all parks in the town or city and reported to the committee.

The park foreman managed the day to day running of individual parks through a team of skilled and unskilled labourers, which sometimes included boys. Their duties included propagating, planting and maintaining the flower beds, shrubs, hedging and lawns; tending to any animals; along with several routine tasks to maintain the soft and hard landscaping. All of this was manual work and often required a large labour force typified in the staffing of London parks table. Victorian invention created some new labour-saving devices to assist with park maintenance, such as the lawnmower.

The park keeper was the custodian of the park, opening and closing the gates, patrolling the park and keeping order. He represented the council and was always in uniform when on duty – a figure of respectability. He lived with his family in a lodge near to the park entrance. Lodges often had a bell, a clock and a notice board with park regulations. They were built in a variety of architectural styles, and since they were in public view, were often ornate. 

Antisocial behaviour, theft and damage by members of the public made it necessary for some councils to employ additional men to act as constables to protect council property and ensure the safety of visitors to the park. At busy times some of the park labourers were also sworn in as special constables to assist.