DEDICATED TO THE PUBLIC TODAY
Sir Stafford and Lady Howard's Noble Gift
September 21st, 1912 — a day that will for all time be memorable in the history of Llanelly, marking as it does the dedication to the public of a magnificent gift by Sir Stafford and Lady Howard.
The generous donors some many months ago purchased from the Buckley Estate, the beautiful grounds at Bryncaerau as well as the mansion, and today these were presented to the town for a period of 999 years.
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As might have been expected, the ceremony of dedication aroused general interest, all classes of the community, which stands to gain so much from the munificence of Sir Stafford and Lady Howard, being represented.
THE PARK DESCRIBED
A Transformation Scene
A wonderful change (writes a Star representative) has been wrought at Bryncaerau during the last nine months.
The old name conveys to one a picture of drear desolation, of decayed walks and ruined grounds.
Now however, its gloominess no longer saddens us. The work of transformation has progressed to such a degree that our hearts are gladdened by contemplation of the smiling broad expanse of Parc Howard –
"With seats beneath the shade
"For talking age and whispering lovers made!"
The deserted walks and shapeless bowers have been renovated: all is now quite prim and neat.
Entering by the main entrance on the Felinfoel Road, we immediately catch a glimpse of the Mansion House through the trees.
The dense undergrowth no longer spoils our view. The drive takes a graceful sweep towards the front of the House, or Castle as we were wont to call it.
To the left stands the bandstand with the dancing green. Here we should imagine our toiling train from labour free will congregate, and seek renown in dancing circles by holding out to tire each other down.
The terracing tennis courts, still further away on the Old Road side, will soon be the scene of many exciting encounters; then on the very summit, as it were, the bowling green will attract our aged toilers, who must perforce beshrew more active games.
Beyond this, the ground slopes away to Pentrepoeth, and artistically it has been laid out with winding walks.
If we turn our attention again to the right of the main drive we catch a glimpse of the silvery surface of the miniature lake. This not long ago was choked with sedges, but now its glassy surface reflects the overhanging foliage with the centre-piece of the sky blue.
Round about seats have been conveniently arranged where tired dames with their attendant cavaliers may rest in blissful retirement, the friend of life's decline. Then away towards Felinfoel stretch the playing grounds where the rising generation will be free to frolic and gambol to their hearts' content.
Bordering the road are shaded walks where we may shelter from the piercing rays of the sun (when it comes).
Entering the Mansion House itself, we find the photographs of the generous donors of the park mantling the fireplace of the spacious hall. Then on each side of those hang brass plates engraven in commemoration of the granting, renovating and opening of the grounds as a place of recreation for the public of the Urban District of Llanelly.
On the first floor is the Museum and picture gallery, where already a fine collection of paintings adorn the walls.
Ascending to the flat roof of the tower we are rewarded with what is probably the finest view to be had from any point of vantage in the district. On a clear day Tenby is easily discernible; while a fine bird's eye view of the town and district all around is to be had.
Now that the Park has been handed over to the inhabitants of the town it behoves us to show our gratitude to our benefactors in the most practical way that we possibly can, and that is by making the fullest and best use of so handsome a gift and by keeping it in such a state as to reflect credit on our town.
THE OPENING CEREMONY
Great Popular Demonstration
The opening ceremony took place this afternoon under the most favourable conditions.
The weather — the most important factor in all out-of-door functions — was brilliantly fine, and as might have been expected there was a large and representative gathering to take part in the inauguration of an enterprise which places Llanelly in possession of a delightful open-air resort.
The Town Hall Square — the civic centre of the town — was the gathering point of one of the most representative gatherings that has ever assembled in Llanelly.
Here an imposing procession was formed which included in its ranks members of the public bodies of the town and district.
Place of honour was given to the Town Band which under the direction of Mr James Samuel, discussed a stirring programme.
The members of the Fire Brigade in their resplendent uniforms made a brave show, and were followed by the Boy Scouts and the Boys Brigade — movements in which Sir Stafford and Lady Howard have taken a deep practical interest.
Then came the generous donors, accompanied by Lady Stepney, making up a trio of beaming happiness.
The members of the Urban Council headed by the Chairman, Mr Herbert Rees JP, the Vice-chairman, Mr Joseph Roberts, and the Clerk, Mr Henry W Spowart, were present in full force, also the High Sheriff (Mr W W Brodie), and the local Bench of Magistrates, and the local members of the County Council.
Representing the Buckley Estate were Capt. Buckley and Mr H Buckley Roderick.
Others who formed a part of the procession were the Harbour trust, Clergy and Ministers, Rural Councillors and Guardians, Council of Chamber of Commerce, Trades and Labour Council executive, Intermediate School Governors, Hospital staff and secretary (Mr D G Rees), Postmaster Mr W Phillips, and other public officials.
Arrived at the park gates, Mr Herbert Rees handed the key to Lady Howard, who then unlocked the gates and formally declared the park open.
A most interesting meeting then took place, presided over by Mr Herbert Rees, whose privilege it was to receive back from Lady Howard the key of the gates.
Mr Spowart was heard with close attention as he read the text of the resolution of thanks passed by the Council.
Amid great enthusiasm the Chairman then presented the resolution engraved on vellum to Sir Stafford and Lady Howard together with a ceremonial gold key.
On rising to respond, Sir Stafford Howard came in for a great ovation. Speaking under considerable emotion, Sir Stafford spoke in appreciative terms of the cordial relations that had always existed between the town and the Stepney family. The Vicar, in a few well-chosen words submitted a vote of thanks to the Council for laying out the grounds with such taste. The veteran, Dr Johns supported the vote, which was accorded with enthusiasm.
An army of school children then sang a number of songs in the most pleasing style, and a display of physical exercises was also given and much appreciated.
Subsequently, the guests were conveyed over the mansion, and the bands provided a charming programme of music until dusk.
SHARING OUR HAPPINESS
In presenting the key to the Chairman Lady Howard said: "We couldn't think of commemorating the anniversary of our marriage better than by sharing in this manner our own happiness with the people of Llanelly. It has been a great pleasure to us during the first year of our married life to anticipate the occurrences of this day of days."
SIR STAFFORD HOWARD'S SPEECH
"I can only express the hope," said Sir Stafford, "on behalf of Lady Howard and myself, that this park will be a real benefit to the people of Llanelly. If it does this we can declare honestly that it has brought to us the most lasting pleasure which can be brought to anyone on this earth – that of knowing that we have brought happiness to the hearts of some of our fellow creatures."
THE BOROUGH MEMBER
Mr Llewellyn Williams MP also spoke. "My hope is," he said, "that the people of Llanelly will look upon this gift as something of their own, which they should zealously guard and keep."