Watercourse

The original plan for the park included a miniature ornamental lake but in March 1893 it was decided to create a series of small pools with cascades instead.[1] Using a shallow natural valley,[2] an artificial watercourse was created to descend with the slope of the park from the terraces towards the Cardiff Road entrance.

This was constructed by James Pulham & Son, an eminent firm of garden landscapers who specialised in ornamental rock and water features.[3] The initial work was sufficiently advanced in June 1893 for the Parks Committee to authorise "a payment of £100 on account of a total sum of about £156" and to instruct that further rockwork be built at an additional cost not to exceed £125.[4] In October it was reported that Pulham & Son had completed the rockwork and further payment of £150 was authorised.[5]

Designs for two wooden bridges to cross the watercourse were approved in January 1894. These were to be constructed by Mr J. D. Parfitt at a cost of £96.[6]

In March 1894 the Parks Committee agreed to pay Pulham & Son the balance of their contract for rockwork, £68-3-5 making a total of £318-3-5.[7] It was reported that "the rockwork at the waterfall is universally admired, the treatment simulating a series of natural miniature cascades and pools".[8][9]

The watercourse was described as follows just before the park opened:[10][11] "The rockwork and pools form ... from some points of view, the prettiest feature of the park. Here Nature has been simulated with that art which conceals art. Masses of bolder-like stone, looking for all the world like the outcrop of the Titanic strata of sedimentary rocks, face the series of dells, pools, and cascades which twist and wind for a length of 400 feet. Two ornamental wooden bridges span this length, and with the fine old elms which have not been sacrificed to the greed of the land agent, give a flavour of genuine beauty to the whole place. The old watercourse, dry in summer with a black ash path beside it … has given opportunity for this prettiness. The largest of the many pools is near the Superintendent's lodge on the Cardiff-road and the biggest cascade near the pavilion. A considerable number of hardy ferns, reeds, irises, and rock plants have been planted about the pools and rockwork, and some idea of what has been so successfully accomplished may be gathered from the fact that over a thousand tons of rock and stone have been used in the formation of the details."

The 1900s Ordnance Survey map shows this series of waterfalls and pools from the centre of the park heading south east. On the 1950s and 1970s maps, three footbridges are shown: north, centre and south across the streamway connecting the footpaths. On both the 1950s and 1970s OS maps, the watercourse ends just north of the Cardiff Road entrance where "sinks" is marked.

In early 1914 Friars Road was widened and an old well was discovered. The Parks Committee decided that the water from this well "be diverted into the ravine in Belle Vue Park" at a cost of about £18.[12]

Sources of Information

  1. Newport County Borough Council Parks Committee 24th March 1893
  2. Belle Vue Park Newport, Management Handbook Executive Summary, February 2017, page 5
  3. Claude Hitching, Rock Landscapes: The Pulham Legacy. Woodbridge : Garden Art Press, 2012
  4. Newport County Borough Council Parks Committee 30th June 1893
  5. Newport County Borough Council Parks Committee 20th October 1893
  6. Newport County Borough Council Parks Sub-Committee 18th January 1894
  7. Newport County Borough Council Parks Committee 2nd March 1894
  8. South Wales Daily News Wednesday March 7th 1894 page 6
  9. Cardiff Times and South Wales Weekly News Saturday March 10th 1894 page 6
  10. South Wales Daily News Friday September 7th 1894 page 4
  11. South Wales Echo, Friday, September 7, 1894 page 4
  12. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 20th February 1914 and Parks Sub-Committee 19th February 1914