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Green idylls of Second City get the thumbs-up

14 parks and spaces in Birmingham win praise as part of national Green Flag awards

Bournville Village Green as it looks today

Birmingham is a green and pleasant land – according to judges who have praised several of the city’s parks.

Fourteen Birmingham parks and two crematoria have retained their prestigious Green Flag status, indicating they are some of the best in the UK.

Eastside City Park , Perry Hall Playing Fields and Victoria Common, in Northfield, were among a record-breaking 1,582 parks and green spaces nationally that have received the prestigious Green Flag.

Bournville’s Village Green , which was described as the “jewel in the crown” of the area, was also unveiled as a winner.

Lloyd Gower, landscapes manager at Bournville Village Trust , said: “Bournville’s parks and open spaces are what makes the village so unique and we’re proud to receive this sought-after award for the second year running.

The rest house on Bournville village green pictured in the 1950s

“The award is testament to the commitment of our landscape team who work hard all year round in all conditions to ensure that the Village Green, and other open spaces in Bournville and beyond, look their best.”

The green dates back to 1900 and was part of chocolate-maker George Cadbury’s original plans for the urban village .

Today, it regularly plays host to some of Bournville’s most popular events, including the Christmas Eve carol service and the Christmas lights switch-on. It is also home to the listed Bournville Rest House, which was built in 1914 to celebrate the silver wedding anniversary of George and Elizabeth Cadbury and paid for by Cadbury workers.

Gillian Ellis, heritage manager at Bournville Village Trust, said: “ The Village Green was part of George Cadbury’s masterplan for Bournville and an important focal point. In 1922 it held a memorial service for George which was attended by thousands of people and today it continues to be an important part of our heritage and a well-used open space .”

Eastside City Park

Darren Share, head of parks for Birmingham City Council, said: “We are delighted that 16 of our parks and crematoria have retained their Green Flag status, in recognition that these amenities are of the highest quality, providing vital access to green spaces across the city.

“Birmingham’s parks and green spaces are part of what makes our city great as they are absolutely vital to happy, healthy communities and our quality of life.

“These awards also reflect the hard work that officers, community groups and volunteers do all year round, to keep them well maintained for the city’s residents and visitors.”

The Green Flag Awards are judged by more than 700 experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicants and assess them against eight strict criteria, including horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement.

GREEN CITY

* Many of Birmingham’s parks are listed by English Heritage on its Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest. They range from Sutton Park , which originated as a medieval deer park, to the 1960s campus landscape of The Vale, at the University of Birmingham, and include formal gardens and parks around great houses, Victorian public parks and botanical gardens.

* Aston Park includes remains of formal gardens and a deer park around the 17th century Aston Hall.

1599 Castle Bromwich Hall Hotel from the Hall Gardens

* Castle Bromwich Hall, and most of its grounds are in Solihull, but part of its South Avenue of mature oaks runs through Buckland End.

* Former parkland around the 18th century Edgbaston Hall is now a golf course.

* Handsworth Park was opened as a public park in 1888, including pleasure grounds and meadows of the Grove Estate.

* Cannon Hill Park, in Edgbaston, was formerly fields belonging to Cannon Hill House, given to the council in 1873 by Louisa Ryland.

* The garden at Chamberlains’ house – Highbury Hall, in Kings Heath – was developed in the late 19th century

* Winterbourne Botanic Garden, now part of the University of Birmingham, in Edgbaston, was created in 1903 in the arts and crafts style around the house of the industrialist John Nettlefold.

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