Warley Woods (sometimes known as Warley Park, or Warley Woods Park) is a 100-acre (40 ha)[1] public park in the Warley district of Smethwick, in Sandwell, in the West Midlands of England, originally laid out by Humphry Repton. It has been grade II listed by English Heritage in their Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest since September 1994.[2][3]

Warley Woods
Warley Woods in 2013
TypePublic park
LocationWarley, Smethwick, Sandwell, West Midlands, England
Coordinates52°28′23″N 1°58′57″W / 52.47299°N 1.98260°W / 52.47299; -1.98260
Area100 acres (40 ha)
Created1906 (1906)
Operated byWarley Woods Community Trust
DesignationGrade II listed

Geography edit

The park lies approximately 3 miles (5 km) west of the Birmingham City Centre and occupies a small valley north of the A456 road between Birmingham and Halesowen, just outside the city boundary.[2]

Approximately one-third of the site is mature woodland.[4] The western part of the park is given over to a nine-hole golf course.[4] The small stream which once ran through the site is now filled in.[2] The park holds a Green Flag Award.[1]

History edit

Warley Hall may have been established after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538.[5]

The estate which now forms the park was purchased by Samuel Galton, Jr., then living at nearby Great Barr Hall, in the 1790s.[2] At the time, it was in Staffordshire. He commissioned Humphry Repton to landscape the fields[2] and ordered the building of a new house to designs by the architect, Robert Lugar, in gothic style.[6] The house was occupied by his son Hubert, in 1819.[2] The land was purchased by Birmingham City Council in 1902 and opened as a park in 1906.[2][3]

Repton first visited the site in 1794.[2] His designs, in the form of a Red Book typical of his work, and submitted in March 1795, are now held by Sandwell Archives.[2] They were largely complied with, albeit some modifications were made.[2]

The house, known locally as "Warley Abbey", despite having no religious function, was demolished in 1957.[2]

Murder of Zee Ming Wu edit

In 1919, a Chinese labourer, Zee Ming Wu, was murdered in the park, during the theft of his Post Office Savings Bank account book.[7] Another Chinese labourer, Djang Djing Sung, confessed to being involved in the robbery and was convicted of murder and hanged, despite insisting that he had played only a minor part in a conspiracy to rob Zee Ming Wu, and did not strike the fatal blow.[7]

Community Trust edit

The Edwardian drinking fountain in 2013

The park is now managed by Warley Woods Community Trust, a voluntary organisation and registered charity[8] which leases the land from Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, who in turn lease it from Birmingham City Council. At the time of the Trust's creation it was the only charity in England to have responsibility for an Urban Park.[9] It holds the park on a 99-year lease.[9] The park is governed by its own set of byelaws.[10]

The trust operates a building, The Pavilion, at the southern end of the park. This houses the trust's offices, a café, a public meeting room, toilets, and a golf shop.[4] Another of the park's features is a drinking fountain installed in 1907. This was restored in 2009.[11]

The Trust's patrons are the actors Julie Walters and Colin Buchanan, the DJ and Presenter Stuart Maconie and local historian Carl Chinn.[12]

Further reading edit

  • Reynolds, Alan; Garrett, Delia; Cemm, Steve (2006). Warley Woods, Smethwick. Centenary of the People's Park: An Illustrated History. Crown Cards. ISBN 9780954391317.
  • Maxam, Andrew; Reynolds, Alan; Slade, Kate (2010). Vintage Images of Warley Woods, Smethwick: Postcards and Photographs from the 20th Century (Vintage Images Series): 4. Smethwick: Maxam Publishing. ISBN 9780956607294.

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Warley Woods". Green Flag Award. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Historic England. "Warley Park (1001301)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  3. ^ a b "History". Warley Woods Community Trust. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Planning your visit". Warley Woods Community Trust. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  5. ^ "1500 - 1900". Warley Woods Community Trust. 27 June 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2023.
  6. ^ Dargue, Bill. "Warley Woods". Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  7. ^ a b Upton, Chris (7 October 2006). "Chinese Whispers That Led to Killer; When a Chinese Labourer Was Murdered in Warley Woods at the End of the Great War, the Midlands Was Terrorised". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 12 March 2015.[dead link]
  8. ^ "Warley Woods Community Trust Limited, registered charity no. 1092754". Charity Commission for England and Wales.
  9. ^ a b Marks, Gary (28 August 2007). "Pascoe to star at picnic in the park". Birmingham Evening Mail. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2015 – via Highbeam.
  10. ^ "Byelaws for Warley Woods and Park". 18 May 2021. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  11. ^ "Drinking Fountain Restoration". Warley Woods Community Trust. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  12. ^ "Patrons". Warley Woods Community Trust. Retrieved 12 March 2015.

External links edit