Craig goes back 70 years to talk abut his memories of Markeaton Park. Swings, eco fest, and the world’s only solar based circus. Also includes memories of the Arboretum in Normanton, Derby. You can listen to his memories or read his interview.
Can you remember how old you were?
6 or 7.
And what did you do in Markeaton Park?
Just running around a lot, I think. Went on the swings. I think we actually went on a rowing boat as well. I think they had rowing boats.
Whereabouts did you live? If you used this park as a child, were you living in Derby?
Well as a tiny, tiny boy, baby boy and a bit later, I actually lived on Forest Street in Derby, and then we moved when I was 2, with my mum, to Hartington Street. We lived in a flat there. So we also went to the Arboretum quite a lot. I remember that very well.
What do you remember about the Arboretum?
I remember the band stand and on a Sunday, I think it was, I used to go down there with my mum and they’d do roly polys down the – it was the only time you were allowed on the grass. During the rest of the week, I think somebody called Jack, he was called ‘Mad Jack’, and he used to come with a stick and used to keep you off the grass. There were signs saying, ‘Do not walk on the grass.’ So I used to make daisy chains, roll down the slope and listen to the band on the bandstand.
Have you got a favourite memory of Markeaton Park or something that stands out in your mind?
Well mainly through my work later with Derby City Council because I became an environmental projects officer for and I became a climate change projects officer and we had a festival here every year called Eco-Fest. In 2001, I think, the first few years it was annual and then became a bi-annual event. It was a big event, lots of marquees here, music, poetry, storytelling, all sorts of things were happening here.
Have you got a favourite memory of the Eco-Fest?
Well as I say, every Eco-Fest was very special, so I remember it all very vividly. I mean, we had probably about two hundred stalls, and several big marquees. The music was good, stall people amazing and it was just brilliant. Seven Eco-Fests we had. Started quite small and we arranged it around the world’s only wind and solar powered circus, which is a non-animal based circus. It was free and everyone had a really good time.
Have you noticed any changes on the park?
Yes, the children’s play area, especially I think. That was really mad stuff, you know, before it was a fairly small area where people would go on the swings and roundabout. It became bigger and better with slides and climbing frames. It was great.
Can you remember what the play park was like when you were little, when you used to come?
Only vague memories…I always remember it was like coming on sort of the grounds of a stately home, which in a sort of way it was.
And so taking you back what’s your earliest park memory? What’s the first park that you remember ever going to and where was it?
I think it was the Arboretum because I was still a tiny boy then. I just remember how idyllic it was. It was like a hippie festival without the hippies. It was crazy, you know. Those daisy chains I used to make, rolling down the hill, listening with my mum with a blanket on the ground, listening to the music and brass bands that were playing. I think it was wonderful, the pathway, the little menagerie they used to have, you know with animals, captive animals but it was very interesting when I was a young boy…
And there was the wonderful boar, you know, the pig, the statue.
Oh the pig…
The pig, yeah. I didn’t realise it had been damaged during the war, until much later, you know.