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Potteries Orienteering Club

West Midlands Orienteering Association

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First published in The Potter July 2009
Text © Copyright John Heaton 2009

Hanley Park

Hanley Park is one of the five city heritage parks. It was opened in 1897 and was one of the very early designs of Thomas Mawson, an influential landscape architect.

Location

The park is off College Road in Shelton, which is mid way between Stoke and Hanley. Unlike all the other Six Towns no park was built in Stoke.

Layout

It is possible to walk outside the perimeter of the park entirely on pavement, a distance of 1·9 km. There are 10 pedestrian access points around the boundary. The Caldon Canal bisects the park and in recent years the fences have been removed to make the section of the canal an integral part of the Park. The towpath has recently been refurbished by British Waterways. A car park is located on the North side off The Parkway. A second smaller car park is on the south side off Avenue Road. Both are within boundaries of the park. Hanley Park has been recently updated; £2.8 million has been spent through the Greening for Growth programme. The park now has a Sports Zone and several new children's play areas. The lake has been improved and there is a decked board walk around part of the north shore. Modern art features have been installed on the islands and four fountains; there is also lighting, restored historical features and refurbished toilets. The south side of the park is dominated by a lake (250m × 100m). Most of the outside edge of the park is made up of patches of open runnable woodland on wide broken earth ramps large enough to be mapped as index contours. The park is covered by a network of wide tarmac tracks (OCAD tells me the total length is 12·5 km) and a very much smaller length of narrow tracks and dirt footpaths. Most of the wooded areas in the central area of the park are also open. As you would expect it offers no technical orienteering, however there is a multitude of features with numbers or lettering on them. On an evening walk I located almost 40 plus over 80 lampposts. This makes it very suitable for a ‘Street O’ type of event.

Event History

I was surprised to find out when I dug out the old Hanley Park file that the area was used for orienteering as long ago as 1976. At least 2 very low key Training/CATI (a common term used in that period meaning Come-And-Try-It) events were held around that time. A very basic black and white 1:5000 map with 4 symbols (pond, fence, path, building) was used. In 1985 Carol Sparke produced a new colour map at 1:7500. Over the next four years four Local events were held on the area. Included in this were two summer evening events in 1986 as part of a Police series of activities to occupy children during the school holidays. The documents also show that another similar event (not listed in the file) was held the year before on the black and white map. After 18th June 1988 no events were put on. In 1985 a permanent course wasalso created – it was opened on 24th November 1985. I recall listening to it being featured on Radio Stoke as I travelled to Shugborough to take part in my first ever orienteering event. However its use tailed away and it did not get maintained. Early in 2009 I began thinking of producing a new map of the area. The map was completed by myself by the end of May. The event was then quickly slotted into this year's calendar on the 16th August [2009] instead of Birchenwood.

Hanley Power Station

Next to Hanley Park on Ridgeway Road, where two residential tower blocks can be seen, is the site of Hanley Power Station. This power station supplied the town with all its power from 1894. After the Federation in 1910 power was also supplied to Newcastle. Much of this load was taken off Hanley power station after construction of Meaford power station in the 1930s, when it was linked to supply power to the National Grid. How much Hanley Power Station was used after that and when it was closed, I cannot find out. It was demolished in 1975.

John Heaton