‘Poor Alice. Victoria’s little sister,’ was the way l heard this delightful little park beside the London Road at Lambridge referred to – during an early morning visit l made to get some photos before the place got too busy.
Victoria – if you were wondering – refers to the Royal Victoria Park in the centre of Bath. Certainly a bigger and much grander affair.
I was chatting to a local man – out walking his dog – who l had stopped to talk to on my way back from taking some images of the pond in Alice Park.
A Virtual Museum follower had suggested l go take a look and that l might be able to mention its sorrowful state and get something done about it.
The pond – or ponds – do appear to be a little bare of vegetation and the water is murky. Apparently the pump that keeps things clear and moving – is broken again.
I do not know if there is a fountain feature at the ponds but my dog-walking friend told me about another water feature in Alice Park that certainly isn’t working and that’s the drinking water fountain near the public loos.
This is a gem of a place – loved by families with young children, dog walkers and sporting types using the tennis courts. It’s a venue for many special events and has a great cafe and even a vegetable garden providing produce. It was opened in 1938 as a memorial park – named after the late wife of a wealthy local philanthropist called Herbert MacVicar. She had died, at a young age, just two years earlier.
Cllr Bryan Chalker – who is Heritage Champion for B&NES – has researched and written extensively about the MacVicars and their association with Alice Park for an on-line community newspaper called The Larkhall News http://www.st-marks.org.uk/our-community/the-larkhall-news/
In a series of chapters devoted to Alice Park Bryan explains how the couple – who had retired to Bath in the early 1030’s – had adored children but it seems their only child died within a few days of being born.
They lived in a big house called The Elms and it was some of the surrounding meadow land that Herbert used to ensure his wife’s name would live on.
He wanted it to be a local park for local people to enjoy with a special emphasis on the needs of children – the whole project endowed in perpetuity with the Charity Commissioners to ensure that it would never close for lack of funds.
Bryan tells me: ‘ There’s a further story about Alice MacVicar due for the next issue of The Larkhall News. My plan is to have an old sepia photo of Alice framed and placed in the All-Organic Café. We are also planning to re-instate the flag-pole.’
He may well know who could help with fixing the drinking water fountain and – maybe – it would be nice if a local school or gardening club could get involved with planting up the ponds and getting the pump working again.
Be great to hear your views on this.