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Potteries Orienteering Club

West Midlands Orienteering Association

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First published in The Potter February 2005
Text © Copyright John Heaton 2005

Festival Park and Grange Park

Geography

This area in the early 80’s was part of an area of derelict industrial wasteland between Burslem and Etruria. The council reclamation programme restored the northern half, Grange Park. The 1986 National Garden Festival brought about the restoration of the southern half, Festival Park.

Grange Park is mainly flat open land with small areas of woodland. To the west of this plateau the land dips sharply to the Trent and Mersey canal and to a small area of still derelict land (off the edge of the map) that contains the short and disused Burslem canal branch. Plans to restore this area have been recently reported. To the south the land dips to a Industrial area used as a Calor gas bottling plant. Both these slope areas are rough open and offer the only real orienteering challenge in this section. Festival Park is a privately owned area of public access area sandwiched between a retail park and a commerce/entertainment zone. The area comprises two 25-30m hills with a viaduct linking them towering about 12m above the pass between the hills. About 80% of this part of the area is classed as slow run or walk woodland. The area is covered with a complex system of paths connecting small open areas which require careful navigation and necessitated producing the map at 1:5000 scale. There are a number of rock features spread across the area and at the northern end there is a mock O.S. pillar in the fashion of those in the high mountain areas constructed of pieces of rock. It is shown on new O.S. maps, suggesting that it is genuine.

Event History

The area was first mapped by Dave Peel late in 2001. Two local events have been held there, both planned by myself, in 2002 and 2003. The first was held in a near gale when the club tent was set up in the gap between the two hills (not the best place in a strong wind) and it took three of us to hold it down in the gusts. The second was held on a Thursday evening in May 2003.

Local History

Studying the 1890 O.S. maps I can see that the south west part of our map was formerly part of the grounds of Etruria Hall which is still standing and is used as frontage for the large hotel on the site. The map shows on the south east section an "Old Racecourse " which at that time was the site of an old mine called Racecourse Pit which mined coal and ironstone. The northern part of our map was the site of Sandbach Colliery and for that time old brickworks and clay pits. There are also a number of cottages with the name Grange in their title from which the name of this section was taken. Very little must have changed after the mines and the small houses went in the early C20th until the restoration work began in the 80’s.

John Heaton