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inspection of aberdeens parks


 For the first time since 1907, the Aberdeen Town Council yesterday inspected the Links and Public Parks. The members of the Council first visited the Links, where attention was paid to the bowling greens, tennis courts, cricket and football pitches, putting greens, and the golf course. The Stewart Park was next visited, and great interest was evinced in the addition to the pavilion, the flower beds and borders, which were in fine condition, and to the cricket ground and tennis courts. After inspecting the bowling greens and tennis courts at the Westburn Park, a tour was made of the flower beds and borders in the Victoria Park, which was ablaze with colour. Proceeding to Hazlehead, the party had a walk through the policies of that estate, paying particular attention to the magnificent rose border and herbaceous border. On the way from Hazelhead to the Duthie Park a view was given of the football patches at Cranford Road. All were impressed with the appearance of Duthie Park, where the beds of stocks and dahlias and the rose gardens were greatly admired. The borders at the obelisk, the flower beds at the statue of Hygeia, and the winter garden all came in  for close inspection, and many were the appreciative remarks passed concerning all that was seen. The parks were all in excellent condition, which reflects the greatest credit on the work of Mr W. B. Clark, the parks superintendent, and his staff. 

Value of the Parks. On the conclusion of the inspection, tea was served in the Duthie Park refreshment rooms, under the supervision of Mr Archibald, the lessee. Councillor Roberts, the convener of the Links and Parks Committee, occupied the chair. Lord Provost Meff, in giving the toast of the "Links and Parks Committee," said that it was a great asset to the city of Aberdeen to have such a number of public parks and open spaces. When he entered the Town Council in 1892 or 1893, Aberdeen possessed the Duthie Park, the Victoria Park, and the Union Terrace Gardens. There was no debt at that time on the parks, and the assessment that had to be levied was only required for their maintenance, and amounted to about a penny in the £. Demands had since that time been made for more public parks, more open spaces, and recreation ground for such games as golf, bowls, and tennis. The Town Council had responded to those demands, believing that the giving of facilities for such recreations was beneficial to the community as a whole, and more particularly to the young men of the city. It was much better to see young men enjoying those games than to see them hanging about the doors of public-houses night after night or parading the streets, where they could not gain anything that would be beneficial to them in after life. Therefore, although they sometimes grudged the money for these things, they should always keep in view that while they were spending money at this time, it would be beneficial to the race that was to come after them. The result of the demand for more parks and open spaces was that they had now a debt in that department which amounted to £35,450. They had to assess this year for £10,750 for the sinking fund and maintenance, and the rate worked out at about 2 1/4d per £. The Lord Provost recalled that the last inspection of the parks by the Council took place in 1907, when Councillor Wallace was the convener of the committee, and he expressed the pleasure that the Council had in seeing Mr Wallace present with them that day. They had to-day a convener who devoted a tremendous amount of time to his department, and who was in the proud position of showing them a number of public parks and places of sport that could not be surpassed by those of cities of a larger size than Aberdeen. In Mr Clark, the superintendent of parks, they had a very capable official, who had remained with them even when he was assured of securing the plum of his profession. 

Demand for Sports Facilities. Councillor Roberts, the convener of the committee, in replying to the toast, said it was a great pleasure for him to have the Council visit the city parks. They had not seen that day all that Mr Clark had to look after, for, besides other three parks, he had to superintend trees throughout the city, numbering nearly 6,000, and the children's play-grounds. Prior to Mr Clark's appointment in 1919 as superintendent of all the parks, the work was divided under three men, but all would agree that under the new system the parks had improved immensely. Since 1919 there had been a tremendous impetus in all forms of sport. This was partly due the war, and partly due to our modern education, which tended to make more young people go in for active sport instead of being content with looking on. There would more demand for sports facilities in the future, because the young children were taught in the schools that it was good to look after their bodies, and they as a Council had to anticipate that demand. They had already made large provisions for all kinds of sports, and the results had justified their actions. He associated himself with what had been said regarding Mr Clark, who always showed a tremendous interest in his work. Ex-Councillor John Wallace said that there was no question about the improvements that had taken place in the city parks since he was the convener of that department. From a horticultural point of view, the parks were greatly superior, and Mr Clark's appointment superintendent of parks had been amply justified, while from the point of view of the citizens, there had also been an improvement. He was surprised to see that the Walker Park had been omitted, for in his day the Torry representatives would not have allowed such a thing to pass. He had been there the other week, and he could assure them it was still there, and that it was all right. (Laughter.) 

Municipal Nursery Required. Baillie Wright proposed the toast of the parks superintendent, and said in Mr Clark they had an efficient and capable official. The parks were looking admirable, and some of the beds in the Duthie Park would be very difficult to match anywhere. Clark, in reply, thanked all the members the for the courtesy with which every one of them had treated him. Referring the sports facilities in Aberdeen, he said that they had one of the best public golf courses in Scotland. The provision of the six-hole course had been beneficial to the 18-hole course, for now all duffers played on the smaller course. They had in Aberdeen a considerable area of parks, but they had not a piece of nursery ground on which to grow plants to replenish the parks. They had to go to the local nurseries and take what was to be got there. With regard to trees for the city streets, the local nurserymen did not grow trees for that purpose, but for cover, and the result was that some of the trees on St Machar Drive were a disgrace, through nothing better being obtainable. He would like to secure a field, perhaps at Hazlehead, which could be utilised as a municipal nursery. In such a nursery they grow plants and trees, as well as turf for returfing the bowling greens, instead of having to pay fabulous prices for inferior material.

Source : Aberdeen Press and Journal Wednesday September 19th, 1923

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