Warley Woods is a 100-acre community park which is a mix of woodland, open meadow and a golf course. It has registered, grade 2 status with English Heritage because of its historic plan, designed by Humphry Repton. The park is designated as a Site of Important Nature Conservation and a Site of Local Importance to Nature Conservation. Warley Woods began its life as private parkland for the Galton family in the 18th Century. It was saved from being developed for housing by public subscription and was opened as public park in 1906 and became known as “The People’s Park”. Its public building is The Pavilion which is home to Warley Woods Community Trust and hosts its shop, a cafe, a meeting room and public toilets.
Warley Woods Community Trust was set up to restore and manage Warley Woods Park as an asset for the local community. It is a registered charity, managed by a volunteer board of 15 local residents and a small staff and has a growing membership of more than 1,000, many of whom volunteer to help maintain the beauty of the park.
The Community Trust was formed in 1997, following the demolition of the old glasshouses at the heart of the park. At this time the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) established the Urban Parks Programme. With the help of officers from Sandwell council, residents put together a bid to restore the park to its former glory, and this was finally accepted by HLF in 1999. The Trust formally took over running the site in 2004.
It is the engagement with the community that is massive because they have various schools coming to visit. They have running clubs, a golf course, junior golf, cross country running, dogs’ group, wildlife events, an annual picnic. A good fundraising event is a bring and buy plant sale. It is very simple to organise. People bring the plants they don’t want; they swap and sell them.
It took the Trustees of Warley Woods Community Trust seven years to go through all the legal issues to allow them to manage Warley Woods. It took over a site which had had no investment for many years. There were no paths, no bins, just two benches. There was no fencing, gates or play area and the drinking fountain just looked like a lump of concrete amongst nettles. The only events were ones which the Community Trust had put on while waiting for the legal issues to be sorted.
Warley Woods is now an award winning, welcoming,safe, thriving community space with top class facilities, events for everyone and an opportunity for anyone to get involved at any level. We have 1,000 plus members, hundreds of volunteers and have raised £4.5 million – all spent on making Warley Woods a special place for everyone who visits.
- 2004 Management of Warley Woods park and golf course began
- 2006 Delivery of regeneration through Heritage Lottery Project (HLF) began
- 2006 New children’s play area created
- 2006 New park sculptures installed
- 2006 Stride healthy walks started
- 2007 First trees planted in Warley Woods for over 30 years
- 2008 Pavilion building made fully accessible with new toilets, boiler and windows
- 2008 First corporate groups help to maintain the park
- 2009 History trail leaflet and signage created
- 2009 Edwardian Drinking Fountain restored
- 2009 First golf summer school – free for children from Sandwell
- 2009 Green Flag Award for the first time
- 2009 New perimeter path around the golf course created
- 2010 The Wilderness opened to the public
- 2010 Theatre in the Woods for the first time
- 2011 Volunteers number over 400
- 2013 Oral history project completed
- 2014 Warley Woof , promoting responsible dog ownership, launched
- 2014 10th Anniversary of managing the site.
- 2014 Four years of the Big Tree Plant and two years of being a Nature Improvement area project completed
- 2015 Outdoor gym equipment installed
- 2015 Entrances refurbished
- 2016 Large IT system project to support the Trust’s future development (OSWALD) delivered
- 2016 Voted one of the UK’s Favourite Parks
- 2016 Viv Cole, Trust Manager wins Green Flag Employee of the Year award
- 2017 Gold Award from Royal Forestry Society Excellence Awards: Urban and Community Woodland
- 2017 16th Picnic in the Park
These are just highlights of the past 14 years. The Trust is proud of every innovation, partnership and improvement however big or small. Many thanks to all the volunteers, supporters and donors who have helped make them happen.
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