Due to the Coronavirus pandemic this year our contribution will only be via our website and social media platforms.
Heritage Open Days, England's largest festival of history and culture, are this year turning their focus on the natural world as they invite us to celebrate the country's natural heritage.
As part of this theme it is not just natural landscapes that are the focal point as we are also encouraged to highlight a wide variety of natural environments, which includes urban parks.
We are using this opportunity to celebrate Cae Glas Park, which we aim to do with the help of documents and images which we hold here at the archive.
The 7 acre park, which this year celebrates its 110th anniversary, has been a central part of the lives of the people of Oswestry since it was formally opened on June 23, 1910. Throughout that time the park has also been a place where nature and people have connected.
The park was formerly the site of Cae Glas mansion and gardens which covered about 10 acres of land.
This plan of the mansion and grounds, from 1830, shows how this part of the town has long been a natural haven.
The mansion was demolished by Thomas Jones of Chester, an architect, shortly after he bought it in 1834. The reason for demolition is unknown. The sales catalogue of 1834 described it as being in 'complete repair', and fit for the immediate reception of a 'Genteel family.' It was said to have a pillared entrance, railings, 4 gates, entrance hall, breakfast and drawing rooms, 12 bed and dressing rooms, spacious cellaring, outbuildings, dog kennels, kitchen and flower gardens, with conservatories, shrubberies and lawns, a gardener's cottage, and a plunge bath with dressing rooms.
Previous owners of the mansion included members of the prominent Kynaston and Barrett families.
The land and premises that became Cae Glas Park were purchased by the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the Borough of Oswestry for £6,000, on August 12 1909.
The land was purchased from Charles Jones of Rossett. Mr Jones had contacted the Town Council in 1908 offering to sell the land to them, together with 34 and 36 Church Street, with the condition that the land was converted into a public park and pleasure ground. Mr Jones also offered to pay £200, for the laying out of the ground.
For those who would like to look deeper into the history of the park can visit the archive and consult the documents we hold.
This bundle of documents (OTC/F47/1) contains correspondence and papers relating to the tenancy of the park and its purchase from Charles Jones.
This image of the opening of the park shows what a grand affair it was.
One of the first formal events held at the park was the celebrations to mark the Coronation of George V, in 1911. The park hosted a ceremony, sports events, and was the venue for the planting of a commemorative tree. The subscription for the event raised enough money for a permanent memorial of the Coronation in the form of a bandstand.
The park is the site of the town's war memorial, which is evidence of the strong bond between the park and the people of the town. In 1921 the memorial gates remembering the fallen soldiers of the First World War were opened. Later, the names of the fallen of the Second World War were added. Every year the site is the venue for the Armistice Day ceremony
This image shows the Armistice Day ceremony at the Memorial gates in the 1930s.
After the closure of the Oswestry Railway Station in 1966, the Oswestry Cambrian Railway war memorial was also located in the park.
Over the years the park has been the venue for many events and concerts including the Powys Eisteddfod, Oswestry Carnival and May Day celebrations.
This May Day image from the 1920s shows the town's celebrations to welcome the coming of spring, which emphasises the role the park plays in connecting people with nature.
With its formally laid out gardens, Cae Glas Park is a central part of Oswestry's exhibition for the Britain in Bloom competition.
This image shows how the flower beds looked in 1963.
The collection contains:
- records of the unreformed Borough of Oswestry (1324-1835)
- records of the reformed Borough of Oswestry (1835-1967)
- records of the Rural Borough of Oswestry (1967-1974).
The oldest document, a grant by the Earl of Arundel of two shops to the Burgesses of Oswestry, is dated 1324. However, most of the collection dates from 1674. The collection contains public records such as Quarter Sessions and records of the Court of Record. It also contains a small collection of local photographs and maps.
The collection can be searched using the catalogue.
The collection contains the Oswestry Borough charters, which set out the rights and privileges enjoyed by the Burgesses. The first charter was granted in 1262 by John Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel. This was followed by later royal charters granted by Richard II (1398), Henry IV (1407), and James I (1617). The final royal charter was granted by Charles II (1673) following a petition by the Lord, Bailiffs and Burgesses of Oswestry.
The charter remained in force until 1835 when local government was reorganised under the Corporations Act of 1835. Under this Act the administration of Town affairs was placed in the hands of the Mayor, six Aldermen and eighteen Councillors. Whereas under the charters the Common Councilmen had been elected by the Common Council itself, the Councillors were now elected by the ratepayers of the Town. The Mayor and Aldermen continued to be elected by the Council. The Town Clerk was appointed by the Council, as is the case today.
The new style Council was a major force in developments in Oswestry for the next 130 years. Health and housing, water and electricity, the fire brigade, allotments, markets, parks, street works were all under its administration. Some of these responsibilities were eventually lost in subsequent legislative changes.
In 1967 a reorganisation of local government in Shropshire resulted in the creation of the Rural Borough of Oswestry. Some of the functions of the old Borough Council were transferred to Oswestry Rural District Council, leaving the Rural Borough Council to operate in much the same way as a traditional parish council, but retaining responsibility for markets, car parks, parks (until 1972) and open spaces in the Town.
In the major reorganisation of local government in 1974 the Rural Borough Council became the Town Council, with sixteen instead of eighteen Councillors from 1975.
The majority of the Council's older archives were at one time stored in Oswestry Library, which until 1959 was based in the town's municipal buildings, the Guildhall. Others, and more recent records, were in the Powis Hall. In 1985-9, all the archives were brought together in the Guildhall. The Town Council took the decision to keep all the records in Oswestry and to apply for it to become a recognised place of deposit. An air-conditioned strong room was installed, search room facilities were provided for in the public rooms, a conservation programme was set up and a part-time archivist appointed to catalogue the archives. The Guildhall was appointed a place of deposit in 1989 under the Public Records Act 1958.
In 1999, following a successful application for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund the Guildhall was renovated for Council and community use. An additional room was equipped for storage of archives, and improved searchroom facilities were provided. The catalogue of the archives was published to mark the re-opening of the building.
In 2005-6 the first Town Council Archivist, Eileen Simpson, retired. Shropshire Archives was appointed to provide the services of a part-time Archivist, Kerry Evans, to attend the archives on a regular basis. Additional advice is also provided by the Shropshire Archives' conservation, outreach and reprographics departments.
Town Council Archivist - Kerry Evans
Assistant to the Archivist - Joanne Needham
Oswestry Town Council,
Tel: 01691 680222
Search room opening hours 09:30 to 12:45, 14:15 to 16:30 every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Friday 09:30 to 12:45, 14:15 to 15:45 except public holidays. By appointment only.
Please provide proof of identity and/or CARN or Shropshire Archives card.
Guided tours are offered to local groups (numbers restricted to 20). Talks and study days can be arranged - please contact the Archivist.