A Brief History of Gloucester Park

Gloucester Park began life as part of the "Spa Pleasure Grounds" which were created in 1814 by Sir James Jelf, a local banker and Mayor of Gloucester.  Sir James sunk three wells, including a sulphur well, on an area of land called Rigney Stile.  The water was considered beneficial for a range of ailments and was administered as hot and cold vapour treatments.  The business was not successful however and in 1815 it was sold to John Phillpotts.  Under the stewardship of Phillpotts, the business expended and as a result many fine villas such as the Spa Hotel (now flats) and Somerset House (which became the judges lodgings) were built.  The Spa was popular in the 1820s but business declined as a result of competition from the nearby spa town of Cheltenham.  In 1861 the Gloucester Corporation purchased the spa grounds from the Spa Company, and with the addition of Rignum Stile Fields and Lower Barton Hill created Gloucester Park.  The park and gardens were opened to the public on 15th September 1862.  The baths were removed in 1894, the medicinal springs in 1926 and the pump room was demolished in 1960.

Gloucester Park, based on G. Cole’s 1805 map and also comprising details from the R. Hall and T. Pinnell 1780 map, showing the park as open fields with the outline of the former Spa Grounds [pale green], the present-day extent of Gloucester Park [dark green] and the route of the 1848 railway line (Gloucestershire Archives Collection).


The Gloucester Park and Gardens were designed and laid out by the renowned landscape gardener Edward Milner, who was also responsible for the Buxton Pavilion and the gardens of St Paul’s Cathedral and was the principal of the Crystal School of Gardening.

The Southern corner of the spa pleasure grounds was cut off from the rest of the site by the High Orchard branch railway which was built in 1848 to service the Gloucester docks.  The branch railway was closed on 1st Oct 1971 when Trier Way was built.  Trier Way now forms a part of Gloucester’s inner ring road.  The area of the park cut off by the railway, and later the road, is now known as Bakers Field and contains facilities for older children and youths including a multi-use games area, a BMX track, and a skate park. 

As a result of donations from a number of local citizens, an octagonal bandstand was erected in the park in 1863. At the same time the fountain from the City’s Eastgate Market was relocated to the park.  The original bandstand was demolished in 1932 and replaced by a neo-classic structure with square brick piers and a flat concrete roof.  This second bandstand was demolished in 2010 and replaced by a more traditional style bandstand which remains a prominent feature of the park today. 


Neo-Classic Bandstand 1932

The opening of Gloucester Park encouraged the playing of sports including cricket, football and Rugby.

The Gloucester Cricket Club started playing in the park in 1863 and still use the cricket pitch adjacent to the park to this day.  County Cricket was played at the park between 1884 and 1923 with legendary cricketer W G Grace playing there regularly until 1899.

Gloucester Park was also the home of Gloucester Rugby Club from 1863, when they formed, until 1891 when they moved to their present ground in Kingsholm.

There are a number of notable memorials in or close to the park. These include a statue of Queen Anne carved by John Ricketts the Elder in 1712.  The Queen Anne statue is located just off Trier Way adjacent to the cricket ground.

The City War Memorial is situated in the north-eastern corner of the Park. The memorial was completed in 1933 and consists of a tapering white stone column topped by a bronze sphinx.  Plaques commemorating the names of the men of the Gloucestershire regiment killed in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War are affixed to the curved white wall surrounding the memorial.


Gloucester War Memorial

A statue of Robert Rakes, founder of the Sunday School movement, is located by the Park Road entrance to Gloucester Park. The statue is a copy of one which was created by the sculptor Sir Thomas Brock to mark the hundredth anniversary of the Sunday School movement.  The original statue was erected in Victoria Embankment Gardens in London. Robert Raikes was born in Gloucester in 1763 and educated at the Crypt and King’s schools.  Raikes became editor of the Gloucester Journal on the death of his father in 1957. In 1780, together with curate, Thomas Stock, Raikes started the first Sunday school at St. Mary de Crypt church.