Conservatories

The two conservatories, either side of the pavilion, were built by Richardson Bros. beginning in early 1894, at an estimated cost of £561-8-0..[1]

The pavilion, terraces and conservatories were described as follows just before the park opened:[2][3] "The idea carried out in the arrangement of the terraces fronting the pavilion is to give plenty of accommodation for promenade concerts and music generally. The terraces, which are capable of holding 3,000 or 4,000 visitors, are on four levels, communicating with each other by broad flights of steps. The terrace walls are of local stone, with terra-cotta balustrading and courses. The band stand is to occupy a position on the lowest of these terraces, and will, when erected, form an ornate structure, ample for the largest band.

The pavilion consists of a central hall, flanked on either side by conservatories ... so charming is the contrast between the red brick and terra-cotta of the pavilion and dainty tones in cream and green of glass roofing and wood framing. The pavilion is primarily a large shelter from the rain, and is capable of accommodating 500 to 600 people. There is a balcony above, reached by an internal stairway ... In the central hall provision has been made for the erection of a refreshment buffet, but as yet the parks committee … has come to no decision about this very necessary detail of park enjoyment. The pavilion is 100 feet by 600 feet with 36 feet elevation, and the conservatories about 30 feet square, and ten feet lower in elevation than the pavilion.

The main approach to the pavilion is from the Stow Park-road or upper side, and there are doors leading from the hall to the conservatories, and from these in turn to the terraces - an arrangement designed to prevent draughts. Some pretty friezes, with conventional foliage, have been introduced between the string courses about half-way up the front of the pavilion, and there is some noteworthy modelling in terra-cotta at the front entrance, into which is worked the arms of the county borough. The floors of the conservatories have been paved with hydraulic pressed red tiles. Around the sides of the conservatories is arranged a narrow staging which will be kept furnished with plants. The idea of the parks committee is to arrange for exhibitions of chrysanthemums in these conservatories and possibly for rose shows and shows of other cut flowers."

Postcard showing the pavilion c.1912

Postcard showing the pavilion c.1912

As early as May 1897 it was found necessary to colour the glass of the conservatories to protect the plants from the sun.[4]

In July 1904 the Parks Committee agreed that the plants and flowers in the conservatories be labelled with their respective names.[5]

The Parks Committee decided in January 1912 to construct two palm pits in the conservatories, at a cost of about £16, to accommodate the growth of the palms there.[6]

In one of the conservatories in December 1913 the Parks Committee agreed to place an aquarium about two feet wide containing goldfish, presented by Mr W. Kerslake.[7] Goldfish were still kept there in June 1928 when the Committee agreed that a new glass tank be obtained for them.[8]

In September 1932 during a visit of inspection, the Superintendent was instructed to re-arrange the pavilion conservatories making one into a palm house and the other into a Conservatory, removing such trees and plants as necessary.[9] It became customary to hold an annual Chrysanthemum display in one of the conservatories, including during wartime.[10]

Sources of Information

  1. Newport County Borough Council Parks Sub-Committee 2nd February 1894
  2. South Wales Daily News Friday September 7th 1894 page 4
  3. South Wales Echo, Friday, September 7, 1894 page 4
  4. Newport County Borough Council Parks, Cemeteries and Allotments Committee 21st May 1897
  5. Newport County Borough Council Parks, Cemeteries and Allotments Committee 1st July 1904
  6. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 19th January 1912
  7. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 19th December 1913
  8. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 22nd June 1928
  9. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 30th September 1932
  10. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 18th October 1940 & 15th November 1940