In 1895 Falkirk Town Council bought the lands of Thornbank extending to 16.25 acres, including the house and gardens, for the sum of £5,500. Mr Rankine of Rosebank donated £1,000 of this and public subscriptions contributed significantly to the fund. With the permission of the Queen the new park was named Victoria Park. The park is located on the east side of Thornhill Road along which was a broad bank dipping down to the flat carseland. On the east the park was bounded by the Mill Burn. A drain along the northern boundary fed it. At the time there were no other buildings on this side of the road in the vicinity. The Falkirk Trotting Club had a lease of the ground, but gave this up so that the Council got immediate entry.
List of Subscriptions Received by Falkirk Burgh Commissioners for Victoria Park
The park was officially opened on 3rd August 1895 by John Wilson MP. The band of the Black Watch performed on the day and the Falkirk Volunteers performed various manoeuvres. The most prominent feature in the early years was a broad running track that followed the perimeter of the lower field. A flagstaff was erected. The gardens of the house were retained for the public.
In 1899 the hedge and fence fronting Thornhill Road were removed and the pavement considerably widened. A handsome parapet wall, 2ft high and 430ft long, was erected along the new frontage and surmounted by an iron railing 4ft 6ins high. This incorporated a fine set of wrought iron gates designed by the burgh architect, Ronald, and executed by Jones and Willie of Birmingham. The main double gate was 12ft wide with iron piers. These incorporated the burgh coat-of-arms. To either side of this was a 6ft wide gate hung on a stone pier 2ft 9ins square and 10ft 6ins high, capped with an ornamental lamp. Four more lamps were erected on the line of the railing.
The New Park Gates, designed by David Ronald
Further improvements were made to the grounds with a number of trees planted along the paths in 1902. At the beginning of 1912 the park was described as “bare and uninviting”. Later that year Robert Dollar provided money for the erection of an ornate drinking fountain (SMR ) to commemorate the First Battle of Falkirk, which tradition said was fought in this area. The fountain was placed on line with the entrance gates and a wide concrete flight of stairs was placed down the bank on this alignment. The Council initiated a three-year programme of improvements that included formal flower beds and paths to the north and south of the fountain, culminating in the erection of a propagating house measuring 30ft by 10ft on the site of the house. The house was demolished, but some of the outbuildings were retained for use as a lavatory and so on. At the same time the earth bank used to retain the skating pond was removed and the ground levelled. / Continued