West Smethwick Park

West Smethwick Park is one of our borough’s best-loved green spaces; historically important to both Sandwell and the Black Country. It was donated in 1895 by James Timmins Chance, of Chance Brothers Glassworks in Smethwick – a world leader in glass technology at the time.

With the park subjected to natural decline over the years, Urban Design and Building Services (UDBS), alongside our client – the Parks and Countryside Services Team at Sandwell Council – submitted a Round 1 bid to The National Lottery Heritage Fund. We sought funding to develop proposals to restore the park. Not only was our bid successful, but UDBS was selected, over national competition, to carry out the work.

We were passionate about restoring West Smethwick Park to its former glory, for the people who use and enjoy it every day, and in honour of its rich history.

At every stage, we underpinned our design approach with rigorous research. We carried out topographical, hydrological, ecological (including bats) and archaeological surveys, and took into account factors such as drainage and utilities. At the forefront of our approach was the park’s heritage and ongoing conservation. We consulted extensively at every step with local communities.

Our joint ‘Round 2’ bid was approved in June 2018.

Redevelopment of the park began on site in 2019, then stalled in January 2020 when specialist contractor Stone Edge went into administration. Sandwell Council’s cabinet agreed to provide extra funding to ensure the £5.2m refurbishment of the historic parkland went ahead. The work resumed in 2021 and was completed in autumn 2022.

“In the relentlessly changing modern world West Smethwick Park feels like a fragment of slow motion film. Farm land until 1895 and a park ever since, this part of Smethwick has had just two uses while most of the area around has seen constant reinvention, plus dramatic demographic and cultural change. To tell the story of the park, it is important to highlight the details of the wider shifts that have occurred in its surrounding streets”.

An extract from our Interpretation Plan for West Smethwick Park, research for which helped us settle on three clear themes for its restoration: people, place and productivity.

Here are the main design elements that we incorporated:

 A new split-level community pavilion and outdoor events space, replacing the original refreshment rooms lost in the 1980s and to bring a community focus back to the park. The pavilion accommodates a café, meeting area, toilets, exhibition space and a large studio for dance or exercise, plus an outdoor performance space directly accessible from the lower level, with seating, lighting and planting on the site of the former bandstand. For visitor accessibility, the pavilion has a new link path from the car park.

The restoration or reinvention of historic features, with work that included:

  • Restoring the grade II-listed James Chance Memorial (including the brickwork, stonework and beautiful terracotta detailing and mosaic) and replacing the security railings with a historically sympathetic design
  • Restoring the stonework of the drinking fountain, which dates from 1900 * Refurbishing the Airmen’s Memorial
  • Consulting historic photographs to restore the entrance gateways at Victoria Road and West Park Road to their former glory, rebuilding or repairing where needed their piers, gates, railings and surfacing
  • Using the outline of the historic bathing pool to create a grassed picnic area
  • Restoring tree-lined avenues and ornamental planting beds, consulting historic plans and transcripts
  • Restoring the historic footpath layout, including routes through the newly cleared woodland area and – via a new boardwalk – through the wetland area

Pool improvements (adding a fishing and boating facility to the site of the historic boathouse and restoring the original railings)

New seating (including picnic tables near to the existing play facility), bins, interpretation boards and signage for visitor ease and enjoyment

 New lighting columns from the West Park Road historic entrance to the new pavilion, extending the use of the park into the evenings

 A new gym equipment trail through the park.

All Projects