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In the Holte section, Peter (reply 2), has posted a map of the Aston area, and I have noticed something called POLAR BEAR HOUSE, what was this, was it actually a polar bear house like it says, or am I just being a wee bit thick on this ?????
Aahaa, just looked at the map again, and to the left of the polar bear house is a grandstand, so perhaps there used to be a circus and menagerie there, so perhaps I 'm not as thick as what I thought :angel:
Yes, Quilter's Lower Grounds Company tried very hard to make the place a public attraction, but it wasn't an easy matter, and he got out after a time, but before the Villa Football Club became successful enough to bail them out. The following is taken from Showell's Dictionary of Birmingham 1888 "The most beautiful pleasure grounds in the Midland counties, cover 31 acres, and were originally nothing more than the kitchen and private gardens and the fish-ponds belonging to Aston Hall, and were purchased at the sale in 1818 by the Warwick bankers, who let them to Mr. H.G. Quilter, at the time an attempt was made to purchase the Hall and Park "by the people." Adding to its attractions year by year, Mr. Quilter remained on the ground until 1878, when a limited liability company was formed to take to the hotel and premises, building an aquarium 320 feet long by 54 feet wide, an assembly-room, 220 feet long, by 91 feet wide, and otherwise catering for the comfort of their visitors, 10,000 of whom can be now entertained and amused under shelter, in case of wet weather. Mr. Quilter's selling price was Ã‚Â£45,000, taking Ã‚Â£25,000 in shares, and Ã‚Â£20,000 cash by instalments. The speculation did not appear to be very successful, and the property is now in private hands. The visitors to the Lower Grounds since 1864 have averaged 280,000 per annum".
Some more about the Lower Grounds, taken from a few different sources. The Aquarium at Aston Lower Grounds was opened July 10, 1879. The principal room has a length of 312 feet, the promenade being 24 feet wide by 20 feet high. The west side of this spacious apartment is fitted with a number of large show tanks, where many rare and choice specimens of marine animals and fishes may be exhibited. On a smaller scale there is an Aquarium at the "Crystal Palace" Garden, at Sutton Coldfield, and a curiosity in the shape of an "Aquarium Bar" may be seen at the establishment of Mr. Bailey, Moor Street.
This land laid out with the beautiful pleasure grounds laid out by Mr. H. G. Quilter, known as the Aston Lower Grounds, a third local theatre (The Holte) was established in April 1879. A handsome block of buildings (on the model of the Alexandra Palace, Muswell Hill,). Have been erected by the Lower Grounds Company, in the centre of the increasingly popular grounds. Comprising a large and complete aquarium, with a series of Fine Art Galleries over it, and (at right angle therewith), a great hall 220 feet long, by 90 feet wide, suitable either for concerts or theatrical performances. On three sides of this splendid hall are broad galleries, and at the further end is a handsome stage, suitable for either for modern comedy or the elaborate spectacular pieces. When the building is used for the theatrical performances the floor is raised, and about three fourths of the hall enclosed, leaving the portion nearest the entrance as a commodious vestibule or promenade.
By this means the theatre proper is shut of from noise and interruption, and the acoustic properties of the house are thereby greatly improved.
When Aston Villa moved there in 1897 the site was already a major focus for sport in the Midlands, having staged athletics, cycling and football since the 1870s. During that period it was just one element the Aston Lower Grounds, one of Victorian Britain's most important pleasure gardens, with its own zoo, skating rink, boating lake and mineral water manufacturing plant. The Byzantine-style aquarium later became the club offices.
As you can see from this map the polar bear house in part of the Lower Ground park, which as peter has said included a zoo so this house would have formed part of the attractions.
Note: if the Villa had played then they would have got there feet wet as the pitch is were the lake us shown.
Hope I am not covering the same map as Peter(cannot find it to compare).
JUST FOR A LITTLE MORE INFO ON THE MAP. IT IS O/S dated 1888, the pool that the villa pitch was to be built on, was know as DOVEHOUSE POOL. In the top right hand corner you can see the old Kynoch's Lion Works(AMMUNITION FACTORY).
1899 This is what you would pay for your products at the time. Match programme 1d, Cup tie football 9/3d, Scotch Whisky (8 years old 1 doz) 42/-,
Sample flask 1/- , Cricket boots 13/6d, Surrey driver bat 15/9d, Sports paper illus. 1d, Football shirt 2/3d, Football knickers 2/6d, Elliman's embrocation 1/11d
A Mr Griffin paid 1/4d for 2 doz minerals and 2/6d for 12 Syphons June 29th. On reflection this is better than Tescos! Henry C. Crawford was the manager of the Aston Grounds Co in those days where did he live on the 1901 census? Link up soon WAK
Fascinating Waka......thanks for posting these items and prices connected to the Lower Grounds at Aston. It was ok if you had some extra money to spend
and I imagine some who attended the Lower Grounds did.
The map was first posted on this forum a while back in JAN 2007 by a member Username ASTON.
After being asked by PM about the map he posted this:
"JUST FOR A LITTLE MORE INFO ON THE MAP. IT IS O/S dated 1888, the pool that the villa pitch was to be built on, was know as DOVEHOUSE POOL. In the top right hand corner you can see the old Kynoch's Lion Works(AMMUNITION FACTORY)".
I remember posting a couple of pictures about Aston Lower Grounds but I can not locate them for the life of me, (does that phrase show my age?). I found a post about the subject put on by Pedroct but I could not get this picture to load on that thread,and that is why I have put it on here.
The photo is, Exhibition time at Aston Lower Grounds in the very early 1890s.
Hi Pom well its nice to see some folks read my post I posted that map way back then ( ASTON now "THE BARON" ) It must have been great to have had a day out at the lower grounds back then They even had anm ice rink !