Bernard Oakley Memorial Garden and Pleasure Grounds Colman Hill Cradley

Bernard Oakley Memorial Garden Today
Bernard Oakley Memorial Garden Today

Bernard Oakley Memorial Garden and Pleasure Grounds Colman Hill Cradley Opening Ceremony Brochure from 1953 Halesowen Borough Council Sandwell Dudley West Midlands

The Parks opening ceremony brochure from 1953 found in the Peter Donnelly Archives. 

Bernard Oakley was a local lad who was killed in the second world war..... the park was gifted to the neighbourhood by his father and mother in dedication to the memory of their lost Son.

Bernard Oakley
THE MAIN ENTRANCE GATES, COLMAN HILL, CRADLEY The Garden and Grounds which comprise three acres one rood nine perches are situate between Colman Hill and Highfield Crescent Cradley in the Borough of Halesowen. 
Bernard Oakley
The land is sloping towards Colman Hill and has a southerly aspect. New iron ornamental gates with York stone pillars have been erected at the main entrance in Colman Hill, the double gate bearing the inscription " The Bernard Oakley Memorial Gardens." On the stone pillar on the left hand side of the double gate is a bronze plate with the following inscription on it : " These Gardens and Pleasure Grounds were laid out and presented on June 27th, 1953 to the Borough of Halesowen by Mr. and Mrs. James Oakley in memory of their son, Bernard J. Oakley, who died on active service in Holland October 16th, 1944." On the pillar on the right hand side another bronze plate contains the words. " Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."—John 15-13.
Bernard Oakley

Todays Dutch Garden Colman Hill

From these, a shrubbed drive leads to a car park, Dutch garden, and conveniences, then, turning to the left, to an open air stage facing up the slope to the northern part of the grounds where on the summit a shelter has been erected facing south towards the Clent and Walton Hills.
Bernard Oakley
Immediately in front of the shelter a walled terrace laid out with a lily pond and rose gardens has been constructed.
The land on the opposite or east side has been reserved for a children's playground which already contains swings. Access can also be obtained from Highfield Crescent by means of a drive and gate on the north side of the Grounds. 
Bernard Oakley


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The Telegraph

Peter Donnelly's prize-winning essay offers a brilliant example of how local, and often unprepossessing, backgrounds can provide the material for an outstanding colour story. All his photographs were taken within a few miles of his home in Birmingham, Brierley Hill, at Blackheath, Bilston and Cradley Heath. He took them over a period of several months while on weekend walks along the deserted banks of the local canals. "Most evenings I never met a soul," Mr Donnelly recalls. "There was an air of isolation, and often desolation, over the whole scene, and this is what I have tried to capture in my photographs." The camera used was a Pentakon F and the film Agfa and Kodachrome.
by Dr Carl Chinn MBE
Peter Donnelly was born in Birmingham, educated at Corpus Christi junior school, Stechford and later at the holy rosary, Saltley. While at the Holy Rosary he took and passed a drawing examination for Moseley school of art at which he spent several years tuning his artistic talent.

On leaving the art school he joined Birmingham printers, Sam Currier & Son in brook street, St Pauls square, as an apprentice commercial artist. After completing his apprenticeship he left Sam Currier and worked at various printers and advertising agencies gaining valuable experience before starting with his working associate Bob Burns (typographer). Donnelly Burns Graphic Design studio was in Chapel Street, Lye before moving to larger premises in Cradley heath then Harborne.

Before starting the business Peter entered and won the Sunday Telegraph national photographic competition. He submitted an essay of photographs illustrating the demise of the Birmingham and Black Country canals with fellow photographer Norman Fletcher. To Peter and Norman, Midlands photographers and photographic societies seemingly had ignored the once great industrial arena that surrounded their everyday lives.

What an arena! what powerful exiting subjects for the camera; neglected canals, weed and web woven towpaths, old worn out narrow boats – redundant and half submerged in silted murky brown waters; steam trains rattling, hissing and bumping their waggons into line and the rail men who worked the line at that time.

Old foundries, run down factories and scrapyards – the industrial flotsam of a once great manufacturing region. Many six o’clock early morning starts were walked and many miles covered by Peter and his camera.

Now over 60 years later, photographs taken during those early excursions are being published - looking back at the time, long before the surge of change and reconstruction 1962 - 1965