Coventry's largest city park opened in July 1921 as Coventry's tribute to the soldiers from the city who lost their lives during the First World War (1914-1918).
Previously the park was little more than a large grassed area that once formed Styvechale Common, which was part farmland and part woodland. The land was owned by the Lords of Styvechale Manor (the Gregory-Hood family), who sold it to the Council so the park could be created. Over the next 20 years, various facilities were developed, including the War Memorial in 1927, and the landscaped gardens and sports areas, which were created in the late 1920s and early 1930s. During this period the park became home to the Coventry Carnival Gala Day, which still survives today as the Godiva Festival. The pavilions were built at the same time as the gardens were laid out. They have recently been improved and a café has been added.
During the Second World War, barrage balloons and anti-aircraft guns were based in the park and today you can still see the large concrete blocks at the Coat Of Arms Bridge area of the park where they were positioned.
The War Memorial was built in 1927 and is around 90 feet high. A competition was set up for a design for the War Memorial, which was won by an architect called Mr Tickner. It is made of Portland stone and was built by John Gray, who once lived at Coombe Abbey. Gray was known as a great builder who also built the Courtaulds works at Foleshill and a number of housing estates, including Wyken and Stoke.
Inside the Memorial is a room called the Chamber of Silence. Every year on Remembrance Sunday, it is open for the public to view the "Roll of the Fallen", books listing all of the Coventry servicemen who were killed in the two World Wars and even as recently as the Gulf War.
The War Memorial Park has around 800 memorial trees dedicated to those who lost their lives in conflict.
As part of the 'Parks for People ' project funded by the Heritage Lottery and Big Lottery, a display has been created in the new Visitor Centre called 'The Missing Faces' project.
It shows the photographs of the 264 people killed during the First World War who have a memorial plaque and tree in the park.
Thanks to local historian Trevor Harkin and the Friends of the Park for their help with this important project.
The Friends of the War Memorial Park have created a Tree Trail, which will link to the memorial trees and Missing Faces project. This can be purchased from the Visitor Centre in the park.
Sadly, as wars continue around the world, the park is still used as a memorial for those who die during conflict. For more information on new memorial trees and plaques please contact [email protected]