The large two storey pavilion is the dominating feature on the west side of the park. It was shown on the 1900s Ordnance Survey map and is still present. The contractor for its construction and the associated terracing was Mr Dyson Parfitt, whose tender for £2,048 was accepted in June 1893. In February 1894 it was agreed that Richardson Bros. would build the conservatories to be placed either side of the pavilion, at a cost of £561-8-0. At the same meeting the Parks Committee decided that the terrace steps would be constructed of Stuart's Granolithic (a form of paving made from granite chippings mixed with Portland stone cement).
The pavilion, terraces and conservatories were described as follows just before the park opened: "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."
Refreshment rooms were later established in the pavilion and caterers were contracted to supply refreshments during spring and summer, for terms of one or three years. The first contractor was a Mrs Bevan, granted a yearly tenancy in May 1895 for £10 per annum.
The caterer between 1912 and 1917 was Messrs A. W. Bland & Sons. In 1918 Bland & Sons declined to renew their contract. The Parks Committee received only one offer when tenders were invited from local caterers and this was from the Young Mens Christian Association (YMCA). The YMCA had previously provided a refreshment service to wounded soldiers from a tent in the park and they were now offering to cater for the general public as well. The Parks Committee awarded the contract to the YMCA for payment of £10 for the year ended 30th April 1919. In 1920 the catering contract moved to Mr F. W. Burton. who retained it until 1926.
In 1926 the catering contract was awarded to Mrs C. A. Boorman for the year ending 30th April 1927. This was renewed annually until 1939, when Mrs Boorman chose not to continue and the contract was awarded to Messrs Richards, who were already supplying refreshments at Beechwood Park and Tredegar Park Recreation Ground. In April 1936 the Parks Committee had agreed to install electrical fittings in the pavilion to enable the caterer to use an electric freezer to make ice cream.
As early as May 1897 it was found necessary to colour the glass of the conservatories to protect the plants from the sun.
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.. Goldfish were still kept there in June 1928 when the Committee agreed that a new glass tank be obtained for them.
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. It became customary to hold an annual Chrysanthemum display in one of the conservatories, including during wartime.
Sources of Information