Oak Road Playing Fields (see picture above) is one of my favourite areas in Hull and leads me into my final ‘features’ of public parks section, that being Recreation Grounds/Playing Fields. It must be stated at the outset that the southern end of the site has been, and still is, one of intense police activity following the disappearance of a Hull University student in very suspicious circumstances.
A study of the relevant Committee minutes for Hull Corporation Parks Dept. suggests that initially (that being late 19th century) the two terms were identities for two different things. The term ‘recreation ground’ occurs in the minutes certainly by the 1870s and it seems then there were two in Hull, Cannon St. to the north of the then town and in Dansom Lane, east of the River Hull. There is no clear evidence as to what was provided at these sites, whether there were things to climb, swing from etc., whether there were hard-surface paths or whether they were little more than grass-fields for the children to make of what they would. In 1891 it was recorded that the Cannon St. site was coming to the end of its 21 year lease so it had presumably been so since 1870 (the lease was renewed by the Corporation). By 1906 it was being called a ‘playground’, suggesting that some facilities were in place. Also by 1906 Drypool Green was being termed a ‘Recreation Ground’, in fact this was the site of the disused burial ground of St. Peter’s church (to be demolished later in the century and the site now a small green park/enclave). Also in 1906 three benches were fixed in Drypool Green, today there is one!
In the following year Dansom Lane recreation ground was to host a ‘cycle parade’ and soon after a ‘horse parade’ (it is as well to remember that in 1907 the transport of people and goods in a given locality still largely depended on horse-power).
(To be continued).