Planning Baxter Park


Baxter Park opening


Sir David’s statue rescued


Workers escape to the Park


Baxter Park strike action


War visits the Park


Regeneration and reopening


Planning Baxter Park


Sir David Baxter Before commencing to the business of the day; allow me to offer you, in the name of the Misses Baxter and in my own name, our warmest thanks for this great demonstration. When I look to this platform and behold the great assemblage of the rank, beauty, and fashion – and the vast multitude in front and around, I am surely entitled to say that it is the greatest demonstration that has ever taken place in this part of the country; and I think I may further say that I accept is as an abundant proof that the gift to be presented this day meets with the entire approval of all classes. I have looked forward to the approach of this day with no small degree of anxiety. Not that I have had any fear that the arrangement for the opening of the park would not be such as to command the approbation of all, because I had full confidence in the ability and art of the gentlemen who have so kindly undertaken these duties; nor that I had any doubt of the manner in which the noblemen and gentlemen who are to take part in the proceedings of the platform would perform the duties assigned to them. I must say, however, that I have felt anxiety as to the performance of those duties which devolve on me on this interesting occasion. But seeing that I am honoured on my right by the support of the Right Hon. The Earl of Dalhousie, the Lord-Lieutenant of this great industrial county, a nobleman who is always ready to support and countenance everything which shall be for the benefit the public – a nobleman to whom and to whose ancestors the town of Dundee is under so many obligations: and on the left by one of the greatest statesmen in our age – Earl Russell – (cheers) – a nobleman who deserves will of his country, who has been the advocate and supporter of civil and religious liberty, and who has ever been the means by which our country has been raised to that position among the countries of the world in which is now stands – (applause). I am sure, gentlemen, we are all very much indebted to Earl Russell for coming amongst us to-day at considerable inconvenience to himself; but I think that while he has done us very great honour, he will be exceedingly satisfied at seeing an array of Scotchmen and Scotch lasses, such as I believe he has never seen before – (laughter and applause). I think he cannot go back to London without being very much impressed with the scene he has this day witnessed. But, ladies and gentlemen, if I have felt anxiety as to the part which devolves on me, I have at the same time felt very much pleasure in its being my duty as well as privilege to hand over this park with all its buildings to trustees for the benefit of the public of Dundee – (loud cheers). In providing and laying out this Park we have been much impressed with the belied that nothing can be more advantageous in a great mercantile town in particular, than a large space of open ground of easy access, affording the means of healthy recreation and exercise, where the whole population can resort at hours convenient for their several occupations. It is out most anxious wish that every facility should be afforded to the working classes in particular of reaping the full advantages of the park; and with this view we have endeavoured to make it as attractive as possible – (cheers). At the present there is a lamentable deficiency in Dundee of such places of resort; consequently the great body of the people have no where to go but to the heated street and contaminated air of a densely crowded town, where, I grieve to say, they are exposed to many temptations and dangers. I repeat that it is our most earnest desire that the people should resort to the park, where they will have the advantage of breathing pure air, and every facility for healthful and invigorating exercise. The more sedate and contemplative portion will have ample scope in surveying the surrounding scenery from the height in the park, rich in sea, river, and mountain views, eminently fitted to lead their minds from Nature up to Nature’s God, and we have the greatest confidence that by God’s grace the park will be a means of effecting great improvement in the character and disposition of all classes. I feel it is due to those gentlemen who have planned the park, and carried the plans into execution, that I should mention their names and approbation. It is well known to most of you that Sir Joseph Paxton drew the plans, and his son-in-law, Mr Stokes, the plan of the pavilion. These have been so universally admired, that I feel it is unnecessary to say anything of them, further than that Sir Joseph’s great talents are obvious. Mr Kidd was architect of the lodges, the enclosing walls and the gates. Mr Richmond superintendent the laying out of the ground. To both of these gentlemen I may only say they have done their respective works to my entire satisfaction – (cheers). Now, my lords, ladies, and gentlemen, I have the greatest pleasure, in the names of Miss Eleanor and Miss Mary Anne Baxter, and in my own name, of handing over the keys and title-deeds of this park to you, my Lord Dalhousie, to be kept in custody of the trustees for the benefit of the public of Dundee in all time coming. We have in the trustees endeavoured to represent all classes in the community so far as we could do so, and I believe it will be found a very popular body. I have no doubt that they will do every thing in their power to manage the park so that every individual in the community may have the full benefit of it; and therefore, my Lord, I deliver over these dispositions and keys to you – (cheers). There is another small matter than I have to bring to you. Now that you are in the possession of this park it is also necessary that there should be some provision made for maintaining and keeping it up in all time coming. It would not be agreeable for me to see an annual assessment laid upon the inhabitants of Dundee for support of this park – (hear, hear). I believe most of you are quite satisfied that the burdens of the people, the municipal taxes, are large enough already – (laughter). I have, therefore, to inform you that I have paid over to the Trustees the sum of £10,000 – (loud applause) – to be by them laid out at interest. This principal sum will produce an annual revenue of £400. I do not say that this £400 is quite sufficient for maintaining the park; but I believe it will be found to be very nearly so. I am not very careful about the matter; for I would rather the sum £100 too little than £100 too much. If it is £100 too little, it is greatly to the advantage of the people that they should, in the proper season, hold fetes in the park, for which a small sum should be charged for admission. By this means they would raise a sum of money to supplement the £400; whereas, if the sum is more than sufficient, it would be sure to be spent, probably not to good purposes – (laughter and applause). I have, therefore, gentlemen, much pleasure in handing over this park to your care – (loud and prolonged cheering).