Paul Pegg, Derby City Councillor for Mackworth, talks about his childhood on Markeaton Park. You can listen to his memories or read his interview.
Can you remember the first time you went to Markeaton Park?
I can’t remember the first time I went to Markeaton Park, because I was probably in a pram at the time (laughs), but I can remember Markeaton Park very well. Where the main entrance was, there used to be a Co-Op shop and all down the main driveway were the army officers houses. As you went further down that used to for the square bashing, training the troops. There used to be wooden huts along there for the troops in a line going down towards the lake. In fact the tarmac is still there underneath all the overgrown hedging and that.
So for you, is the first park that you can remember going to, would that be Markeaton?
That would be Markeaton Park there are no two doubts about that. I mean although my grandma used to live in Normanton so I suppose there would have been the Arboretum, but at the end of that I don’t remember. Markeaton Park is the first park that really sticks out in my memory for anything. I can remember certain things as a three or four year old on the park, because I lived on the park. We lived in one of the officer’s houses on Markeaton Park.
In those days, just after the war, they were building the Chaddesden Estate and the Mackworth Estate. My parents had to move into one of those houses on Markeaton Park so that they could actually get a council property. That’s how it worked in those days…they moved to Chaddesden which I didn’t like. When I started school I used to keep running away. My mum used to take me to school and I was back home before she’d even (laughs)… with my two brothers.
Why didn’t you like it, was it the change?
I just don’t know. It must have been the change. Because I was born and bred in Freehold Street see, and I’d got all my friends there and that. My grandma…
So you actually used to live on the park, I didn’t realise that.
It was standard in those days because my mum and dad lived with my grandparents in Freehold Street. Then to get a council property after the war -obviously there was a lot of building going on in the late ’40s early ’50s – they moved onto the park as a temporary accommodation to then move onto a house. They actually moved to number thirty-two Shirley Road in Chaddesden, they were the very first tenants in there when it was built.
I remember my aunt and uncle used to live on there as well and we used to play up and down outside. In fact there is a cherry tree that backs onto the car park that’s there now that was in our back garden I can remember the row of houses – we were fortunate because we were in the officer’s quarters so they were slightly better than the wooden huts. And it was on the main drive so we could see up to there.
I can remember (laughs), getting chased by the – because in the hall, when the hall was there a lot of the park keepers used to live in them. Then I can remember once we went to the little putting green and pinched all the flags and took them home with us. The park keepers came chasing us. We’re talking about a four or five year old, I can remember that.
One of the significant things that I remember is my mum and dad showing me the animal graves that are on the park tucked away there. I can remember being shown them and that, dogs and a horse which were Mrs Mundy’s favourite pets. They were buried there with a gravestone.
You mentioned the fair on Markeaton Park, can you tell me anymore about that?
It goes on two or three times a year on Markeaton Park. It’s usually when they have the firework display. Years ago we used to have a carnival in Derby, it used to go on for a fortnight. Markeaton Park was the main venue. They’ve had all sorts of top artists there. Pet Clarke, Ann Shelton. We’ve had Radio One there… One week it would be all pop groups and rock n roll and that sort of thing and then the second week would be orchestral music. That’s how the Darley Park concert came to being. Because when they stopped doing the carnivals they moved it to Darley Park.
Have you got any memories of going to the fair when you were little?
No. No. The only fair that I can remember going to when I was little was on Bass wreck. Because you never really used to have them up there then in them days. It was all basically Bass wreck with the local fairs.
We ask people about changes on the park and you’ve mentioned quite a lot of things that have changed…
Specifically the Mundy play area. That has really changed. That’s completely different to what it ever was when I was a kid growing up. I mean the stuff that’s on it now there was never any of that. There were a few swings and that, it was just open, you’ve got the paddling pool and basically maybe a couple of swings or the old bits and bobs and that was it.
So can I ask you, what does that park as a space mean to you?
To me it’s everything. I love that park to pieces. I grew up there, I grew up on it. I mean the early days were there then as a lad growing up… I used to go there in the six weeks holidays, we’d be on the park. In those days we used to bike it or whatever. So that’s, yes, that’s our history. That’s me.