East Avenue Park

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By Margaret Burns

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First Published 4/8/2022
Last Updated 4/8/2022

 

Location of East Ave Park - 1839 Cheshire Tithe Maps.jpg

Fig. 1 Location of East Ave Park, 1839
© Cheshire Tithe Maps
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Deeds on Sale by John Tulloch of fields for Etchells Primary and Park 1920 Lynn Spearing.j

Fig. 2 Deed of Sale of land to Cheadle & Gatley UDC, that becomes Etchells Primary and East Ave Park, 1920
© Lynn Spearing
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Fig. 3 Deed of Sale of land to Cheadle & Gatley UDC, that becomes Etchells Primary and East Ave Park, 1920
© Lynn Spearing
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Copy of Deeds for land for Etchells Primary and East Ave Parkshowing Oak Farm.JPG

Etchells Primary School was built in 1932 and the houses on East Ave, to the south of it and Hambleton Rd were built during the 1950s. The above tithe map from 1839 shows that the land on which the park was eventually built was at that point owned by a John Cross.  Deeds from 1920 show that the land where both the school and park were later intended to be built, was sold to Cheadle and Gatley Urban District Council by a John Tulloch.  
 

Early residents referred to the park as the Recreation Ground. I can only remember the park from the 1960s but others will have known it before then. In the 1960s, it was a lovely recreation ground with many facilities. Although it is only approximately two and a half  acres,  the park packed in plenty of recreational experiences. 
 

Entering off East Ave where there was a thick hawthorn hedge at that time, the unfenced  children's playground was ahead with swings, a slide, a “witch's hat” roundabout, a see-saw and a rocking horse for four children. Behind the playground was another thick hawthorn hedge separating the playground from the immaculately kept bowling green with wooden benches where players and others could sit and watch the matches. On the far side of the bowling green were two tennis courts with nets and surrounded by wire fencing. To the left of the bowling green was a small pitch and putt area and five-a-side football area.
 

Along the right hand side of the path were public toilets and a small pavilion where people could hire bowls, pitch and putt clubs and tennis balls. Mr Hodgkinson, who lived on Rossendale Road I believe, was the park keeper, who kept the park and its amenities in good condition. 
 

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Fig. 4 Our earliest photo is from 1980 - but shows the play area, hedge and bowling green
© Ratepayers' Association
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As years went by, the Council couldn't afford to have park keepers looking after the parks and gradually the amenities became neglected as the Council did not have enough funds for the upkeep as previously. The bowling green was still mown but youths started to destroy it and ride bikes on it. The tennis nets were destroyed and the surface and edges crumbled. The toilets were vandalised and for safety reasons dismantled in 1998. The pavilion was also dismantled at about the same time. The Council did renew and relocated the playground and fenced it as new safety regulations came into being but gradually, the park became a shadow of its former self and the children's playground was the only amenity left by the 1980s. 
 

Following anti-social behaviour and nuisance to local residents and other park users, Ratepayers called a public meeting at Etchells school in 2004 to discuss with the Council, Youth Workers, the Police and the  Youth Offending Team the need for action in East Ave Park. It was minuted that the two salient issues were “ the state of the park and youths congregating in and around the park causing annoyance and damage.”

The outcome was the formation of the "Friends of East Ave Park” group working in partnership with a Parks Development officer from Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council (SMBC). The first committee meeting was in June 2004 with 6 people present, although over 100 had attended the open meeting and expressed an interest in getting the park into shape! The committee met for many years at the home of Virginia and John Bryan opposite the park and we are grateful to them for their hospitality. The group never grew to much more than 8 members, with myself as chair for many years until April Mcculley took the chair in 2013, but the group made a huge difference to the park. Fundraising was the major activity and I wrote many submissions for grants which were usually successful. The biggest grant, from Biffa, was to resurface the exercise path around the park, a quarter mile being one circuit. Other grants paid for resurfacing the old tennis courts and establishing the MUGA (multi-use games area), exercise equipment for the outdoor gym, benches and rubbish bins and eventually new playground equipment.  Altogether the Friends group have raise approximately £100,000 since 2004 to re-establish a lovely place for everyone.

 

Children from Etchells Primary planted 10,000 spring bulbs  in the grass between 2005 and 2008 and hopefully each spring those daffodils remind some people of their time at Etchells in the Park. Over the years, the Friends of East Ave Park have worked hard to raise funds to keep the park looking good and a nice place to relax. During 2020 lockdown times, the park played a big part in helping many people's mental health by relaxing,  walking and socially distanced chatting in the park.

Long may we all appreciate East Ave Park a place for a everyone!

 

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Fig. 5  The daffodils planted by Cheadle Etchells Primary School children, 2006
© Margaret Burns
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Fig. 6  Picnic in the Park organised by the Friends, raising £750, Sept 2021
© Friends of East Ave Park
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Fig. 7 Play Area in East Ave Park, 2021
© Colin Barnsley
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