Ridley Park
Landscape Blyth Northumberland

Ridley Park

Landscape In Blyth, Northumberland

A public Park in Blyth opened in 1904.

Sitting amidst the houses and port of Blyth, Northumberland, lies Ridley Park, a popular oasis offering a breath of fresh air and a place for recreation for all ages. Its history, like many public parks, is intertwined with the town's development, reflecting the changing needs and aspirations of the Blyth community.

Ridley Park's story begins in the late 19th century. Previously, the land served as a gathering point for miners' picnics, fairs, and circuses. Recognising the potential for a permanent recreational space, the South Blyth Local Council sought to secure the land.

Through negotiations, Viscount Ridley, the landowner, agreed to lease the area for railway expansion on the condition that a portion be reserved for public use. However, public access remained restricted until 1903 when Viscount Ridley, in a remarkable act of generosity, gifted the land to the Blyth Urban District Council with the sole purpose of establishing a park.

The official opening of Blyth Ridley Park, as it was originally called, took place on 27th July 1904. Spanning over 5.5 hectares, the park's design reflected the Victorian era's penchant for order and symmetry. Wide paths provided ample space for promenading, while designated areas catered to specific activities like bowling and tennis. Notably, the park's sheltered location, nestled between the River Blyth and the port facilities, offered a haven from the often harsh North Sea winds.

Over the past century, Ridley Park has undergone a series of transformations, mirroring the evolution of Blyth itself. The once-dominant mining industry gradually declined, and the park adapted to serve a more diverse population. Playgrounds were introduced to cater to the needs of growing families. A splash pad, a welcome addition in the warm summer months, was introduced for children and was hugely popular, though it has had its issues, while the original bowling pavilion found new life as a cafe, offering refreshments to park-goers.

The park's significance extends beyond leisure activities. The Friends of Ridley Park (FORP), a dedicated community group formed in the 1990s, plays a crucial role in maintaining and enhancing the park. Through tireless volunteer efforts, FORP organizes events, raises funds for improvements, and fosters a sense of community ownership. Their dedication ensures that Ridley Park remains a cherished green space for generations to come.

Ridley Park is not only a haven for wildlife but is also home to a number of pieces of sculpture both historic and modern. There is a memorial at the park's northern end that commemorates those lives lost during both World Wars alongside a Celtic cross dedicated to 6 local servicemen who died during the Second Boer War.

In addition to the war memorials there are three silhouette sculptures, funded in 2012 by SUSTRANS, depicting Stan Laurel, P.C. David Rathband and Guardsman Michael Sweeney who all contributed hugely to Blyth society and also lived there.

The toilet block and FORP pavilion are decorated with murals of animals seen within the park and surrounding area. Finally a bust of Lord Ridley can be found near the park entrance, though this is a replacement after the original was stolen in 2008.

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How To Find Ridley Park

Where Is Ridley Park?

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Lat / Long

55.122345, -1.500919

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Where To Park For Ridley Park?

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55.121052, 55.121052

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There is aprking directly to the south of the park at the Ridley Park car park.

Contributed by Andrew Gardner

I love being outdoors, in nature, and experiencing the relaxation it brings. Wandering through the northern countryside seeing unexpected buildings, historic places and occasionally surprised wildlife is one of life's great pleasures.

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Andrew Gardner

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Ridley Park was listed in Landscape // Northumberland // Blyth