GARDEN AND GROUNDS.
Gravelled Car Park Directly Behind the Pub.
This area seems to have been a lawn and gardens, dating back to when the bulk of the property was built in the late-1840s. Roy Turley told us that in the 1930s the area was predominantly lawn. During WWII it was given over to vegetable production as part of the war effort. the lawn does not seem to have been reinstated by the mid-1950s and possibly never was.
In 1967 Whitbread & Co, who owned the pub at that time, applied for planning permission to turn the area into a car park and it was gravelled over, remaining so to the present day.
The dry stone boundary wall was rebuilt by Matt and Alan in 2017, and now incorporates a large dry stone globe.
Construction of the dry stone wall in the summer of 2017.
Left: Rebuilding the wall.
Above: An artistic addition.
The stone pillar finial, at the end of the wall nearest the Lodge, is interesting. It originally came from Parkend Ironworks and is possibly a section of internal drainage from the guttering. The finial at the opposite end of our wall was drilled by me, to match it, but an identical original stone also exists in the boundary wall of Crossing Cottage.
Triangular Beer Garden and Play Area.
The pub had no beer garden when we arrived and it seems that the triangular garden, near the public toilets, had been used as a private, mixed flower and vegetable, garden for many years.
We're not entirely sure why, but at one time the previous publicans, Frank and Margaret Wilkinson, intended to use it for vehicular access to the rear car park. They received planning permission to construct a slope in the far corner, down from the small car park at the front of the pub, and got as far as removing a section of the stone wall there. The project was abandoned, and the wall was rebuilt, but different stonework is still visible.
This photograph of Roy Turley was taken in around 1937, and shows the garden, at least partially, occupied by flower beds. The area behind him is now occupied by the smoking shelter, but you can still make out the position of the doorway and window today, from marks in the render on the wall.
Although very overgrown when we arrived in 1990, it was only in use as a vegetable patch. There was still a path through it however, which was used by the public to access the footbridge across Oakwood Brook. We turfed the area in 1991, turning it into a beer garden.
The smoking shelter was built in 2008 and the play area added in 2015.
Top Car Park, Near the Crossroads.
It's difficult to visualise, without actually walking on it, but this area is part of Parkend Bridge. It was created, when the bridge was widened in 1812, to accommodate the Milkwall Tramway branch line. Later, it was also used for the Marsh Wharf Sidings railway branch line. We bought the area from the Forestry Commission in 1986 and the former line of the railway was still clearly visible at that time. In 1988, after obtaining planning permission, the area was fenced and leveled for use as a car park. Near the steps, just out of the shot on the left, there was a decayed petrol pump, but sadly it was too rotten to be saved. We did keep a long brass measuring stave, which was found in the tank, and it remains at the pub.
In a rather nice nod to history, a short section of the Marsh Wharf Sidings branch line was recently reinstated, up to the boundary of our property; which is just about where the photographer is standing.
Photo: The area now used as our top car park, photographed in 1987.
© Andy Buckley.
Decking and Top Car Park.
The ground level at the front of the pub, including this area, was raised to its present height as part of James Kear's late-1840s redevelopment of the property. The retaining wall is a little perplexing, however, as it's neither square to the building, or the road. The lawn 'terracing' in the garden was added by us in 1990, as the wall was originally almost full-height down to the garden and the drop was considered dangerous. Maps published after the pub was redeveloped only show the area as open land; so it is entirely possible that this always was a car park - or at least, somewhere for customers to park their horse and cart.
This c1930 photograph adds some weight to that idea, as it can be seen that no real separation between it and the road existed at that time.
From the 1960s the area immediately in front of the pub was used for outdoor seating, and the area by the stone wall was used for car parking. Indeed, until 1967 it was the pub's only car park, which was causing problems.
The decking was added by us in the year 2000.
Grassed Area Behind the Pub (Bordered by the Two Streams).
On a 1776 map this area is described as a meadow, attached to the cottage that would go on to become the Fountain Inn. When we arrived, it had clearly been used as a dumping-ground for many years and, amongst other things, a dilapidated wartime Anderson Shelter and part of a car were removed from there in 1995. In 2006 we began leasing it from the Forestry Commission, allowing us to use it as an additional beer garden.
Above; Boar damage in 2018.
Left; Looking towards the back of the pub, not a very clear photograph, but it gives an idea of how untidy the area was in 1990.