Over the weekend I found some pictures of when I took over a park during my time at Kirklees Council. I didn’t recall taking any other pictures back then… Which is a shame as a look back would have been nice. I may trawl through my old twitter account and see if anything exists on there from back then.
The King Edward VII Memorial Park, Cleckheaton
A little bit of back history for you all. The council could only afford so many gardeners due to all the government cuts that had been brought in the previous year. So people that had retired had not been replaced and we had a lot less of us seasonals to help out and so quite a bit of the summer and winter work simply wasn’t getting done. As a result of this many people had been complaining, rightly so, about the state of the place.
All the pics in this post were taken on one day, Friday 6th July 2012. This was the end of the first week I was assigned to look after the park. There hadn’t been anyone looking after it other than one team that spent just a couple of hours on it on a Friday… If they had any time. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I was on that team that season. It was the one season that I wasn’t on my normal team. Thankfully after the debacle of that year I was put back on the other team and all was right again!
Very basically me and one other member of the team had a VERY different outlook on what the word ‘work’ means and the benefits to keeping your trap shut and getting on with said work. *sigh*…
Long story short I asked the boss to be put into another team, he gave a counter proposal of my taking over the park and the other seasonal he originally intended to put in there to go in the team as my replacement. He was happier putting me in there, knowing my work history/ethic than an unknown person… Especially when you consider the amount of work that needed to be done. He was really worried that the new chap would take one look at the workload and just walk away!
To say the least I jumped at it… I was a lot more happy to do it than he anticipated and so I left the team and never looked back. Not only that but my boss was very happy because he didn’t need to micro manage a newbie because I could be trusted to work hard and would only need the absolute minimum supervision.
Look at how long that grass is! O.o
You can see one of the beds has been cleared. This was my first job when I started in here. The first month was just a HUGE job to get it back under control. I had a mountain of work to get on top of and no time or help to get it done. I’m not sure if my wife recalls or not but I can remember a LOT of extra (unpaid) overtime for that month! I would work an hour extra in the morning and Friday would see a full days work rather than the 12:30 knock off that it normally was. I never worked later in the afternoon as kids would congregate in the park and it was just plainly better all round if we were not ‘in the way’ after 3pm to make a scene. This was during a time when we had a lot of problems and the police would make regular trips through the park and move the kids on if they were being abusive… Which they often were.
The first idea was to weed the beds. Then we looked at them and decided to just strip them early for when the summer bedding which would arrive early the next month. Why do the work twice when we could just go for a clean slate for the next major project?! B-)
The borders were all overgrown. There were loads of wonderful herbaceous plants in there, most were overgrown with cleavers and other weeds. It was in this park that I learned to HATE cleavers!
It’s also worth pointing out that the majority of the plants in my garden came out of this park! Seeds were gathered, autumnal splittings were taken. Even a few self seeded plants were gathered! I NEVER stole a plant though. Only ever things that would have gone on the compost heap or were otherwise not wanted.
There is a lot of open grass in this park, about 2 acres worth! It all needed to be cut twice a week. Tuesdays and Fridays were grass days. I would start at 7am and not get done till around 11am. Yep… 4 solid hours of cutting with a 22″ cylinder mower the same as the one in the pic below. I would empty my 150L barrow at least 20 times. That’s a LOT of hard work, those things weigh a lot when full!
It’s a 22″ Dennis 7 bladed cylinder mower. Slow as hell but gave a great cut pattern. As you can see here. The link to the left was taken in a different year than the one I was there for as the hedge you can see had been ripped out before I started.
BTW. For a small comparison. In the 60s there were 4 full time gardeners assigned to JUST the park. When I took over I had to do the park and a few satellite areas on my own! O.o
When I look back on it. I have NEVER enjoyed a job as much as I did that one. I was on my own all day and I was my own boss. Would I do it again? Yes… But only if the problems with the kids were dealt with. That was the one problem I had during my time. B-(
I enjoyed the hard work and I also enjoyed the compliments that I frequently got from other staff and members of the public. Nothing makes a job more worthwhile than having someone tell you that they now enjoy coming to a place you take care of. B-)
I put the pics together as best as I could to make a panoramic pic. Warning before you click… It’s BIG!
Thank you for reading… Wall of text!