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South Marine Gardens 1885-1906

1894 Map

Shortly after acquiring the foreshore the Corporation soon began work on the construction of the Marine Gardens and the Marine Lake, which opened on 7th September 1887.

The grand opening of the lake and park were accompanied by a procession by torchlight, a ‘Venetian fete’, and later a firework display. An article in the Southport Visiter describes the evening’s proceedings:

“At dusk the myriads of fairy lanterns surrounding the lake and those on the Marine Park were lighted, and the spectacle produced was acknowledged to be one of the most magnificent ever seen, not only at Southport, but in any part of Lancashire, as the foreshore seemed to lend itself especially to the purposes of decoration” (Southport Visiter, September 8th 1887).

Soon after construction it was found that the lake water was deteriorating the sand at the edge of the lake and a concrete revetment edge was installed to prevent further erosion of the lake edge (Southport Visiter, 21st June 1892).

The 1893 Ordnance Survey (OS) map shows the newly constructed lake with an expanse of sand left between the gardens and the lake. A bandstand was erected on the sand and a boatyard is also in evidence. The sideshows and stalls have been moved away from their previous position adjacent to the Pier entrance, and located towards the south of the Marine Lake.

South Marine Gardens were developed as a mainly grassed area, crisscrossed by informally arranged curving pathways. Postcards from the early 1900s show a low fence and hedging dividing the Promenade from the new park. Similar hedging was planted intermittently within the park on the edges of grassed areas. Within the grassed areas are various raised planting beds and on the edge of the new park, facing the lake, there is bunded and highly manicured planted areas.

Three shelters are shown in South Marine Gardens on the 1893 OS, two rectangular and one circular. The circular shelter was enclosed and appears to have been a timber framed structure with a lead roof. This shelter was demolished as part of the 1931 development of the linear route to Princes Park.A postcard posted in the summer of 1904 illustrates the area of the gardens near the Pier. It shows the planted areas being bounded by a kerb surmounted by rock edging. The kerb and rock edge would appear to still survive on the side of the gardens, but the planting on the side nearest the Pier was removed in order to make way for the gentlemen’s toilets, soon after this image was made.

Separating the gardens from the sands was a terraced walkway named “lower terrace” on the 1893 OS. Along this terrace seating and lighting were erected. The concave concrete edging to the bunded planting bed as shown on photographs from 1902 is still in existence, albeit having lost the seating, which ran along the top of it. Photographs showing the area prior to the development of King’s Gardens also illustrate the presence of two structures within the pathways, which could be drinking fountains. These structures are not shown on the 1893 OS map and therefore may not have formed part of the original scheme.

The ladie’s toilets and ticket office were erected by 1902 and the gentlemen’s toilets were built between 1902 and 1908; also in the period 1902-1908 a further rock-edged planting bed had been constructed adjacent to the new gents toilets, the development of this planting bed is likely to have coincided with the construction of the gents toilets, which were uilt upon a planted area (see 1908 OS and Hardy, 2001, p30).

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Last Updated on Friday, March 4, 2016