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Zetland Park  (Part 2)


 Illus: The original entrance of the park with the Fountain opposite Grange School, c1900.

The park was a place where the public could promenade around the playing field where the children took part in sports.  Two football pitches were laid out for the use, during the winter months, of the Grange Rovers and the Forth Rangers.  In the summer the Zetland Brass Band performed promenade concerts.  It was also used to host flower shows by the Grangemouth Horticultural Society.  On these occasions the park was closed to the general public and an admission fee charged.  At this time it lacked the formal garden layout of larger towns until after the First World War when moves were made to have a memorial worthy of the town and the men who had died.  Peace Celebrations were held in the park on 4th August 1919 with a programme including sports, music and fireworks.  This emphasised the muddy nature of the park and entrance.  A councillor noted that it “was not a thing of beauty” and had been neglected.  It was the architect chosen to design the war memorial, Sir John Burnet, who chose its site – many preferred a central location at Charing Cross.  The opportunity was taken to erect flanking walls, railings and huge gates and piers as part of the monument and as a grand entrance to the park.  The cenotaph cost £2,478 and the entrance with its piers another £1,625.  The memorial was unveiled on 22 September 1923 by General Sir Ian Hamilton.

Illus: Zetland park with the war memorial looking south from grange School, 1930s.

This grandiose monument acted as a spur to the development of the park, which included a large extension of 7.71ha (19 acres) to the south acquired from the Blair Drummond Estate and 2.6ha (6.5 acres) from Kerse Estate.  Within the latter was an area known as the Orchard, which was slightly higher than the surrounding land and contained the earthworks of the 14th century grange. The Orchard is presumably named from its use in the 17th century for the production of apples and pears.  The fruit trees were removed at the end of the 19th century because people passing by helped themselves to the produce.  The level inside the Orchard was some 4ft higher than that outside, but in order to improve the drainage of the remainder, which often flooded, rubbish was used to raise it to the same level.  Early editions of the OS maps show that the Orchard was an irregular shaped enclosure with an earthen bank surrounded by a ditch; the latter interrupted by a causeway on the SE side.  Given the proximity of the place name “Abbotsgrange,” first noted simply as “Grange” in 1362, it is reasonable to assume this to be the site of the monastic farm belonging to Holyrood Abbey – after which Grangemouth gets its name.  A grange was the centre of an estate run for a remote abbey and usually housed a granary or warehouse to hold the agricultural produce of the area.  There was often a substantial dwelling for the factor, who also ran the baron court.  These were probably stone buildings.  Produce would have been taken by sea to Leith for onward transport to the Abbey and it is no coincidence that the grange was located at the tidal limit of the Grange Burn.  In later years the Grange was owned by the Bellenden family and the buildings were converted into a more substantial dwelling.  Two stones were found in the Orchard in the 19th century - a date stone of 1618 and an armorial stone containing a chevron and three mullets for Ker.  The former was later incorporated into a sundial for the park.

Between the orchard and the original park was a large drain, necessitated by the low-lying land and the earlier diversion of the Grange Burn.  At the point where it issued into the Grange Burn there was a sluice to stop water from the burn ponding back up the drain.  This created a small pool where the youth of the town learned to swim.  Once it was incorporated into the park the burgh officials prohibited this activity and before long the drain was piped and covered over.  A small stream feeding the Grange Burn ran passed the farm of Abbotsgrange and was also diverted and culverted as part of the landscaping of the park.  The Grange Burn was further canalised, smoothing out the curves in this area.  The tree-lined perimeter path soon continued around the new extension and a small copse was planted in the south-east corner over the old stream.  The NNW/SSE hedge of the earlier field boundary was retained for the time being.  Further entrances were added.

The 1920s saw great additions to the facilities. See Zetland Park (Part 3)