Danson: A private development of the 1930s

Public Libraries and Parks

The period between the First and Second World Wars was one of rapid expansion for public libraries throughout the country. Yet even by the standards of the time the success of Welling Library was phenomenal. In a single year, 1931, the number of books lent by the library rose by 9718 to 31,298 an increase of 45 per cent. This compared to a rise of 18 per cent for the district as a whole.

Rising demand placed increasing pressure on space. The council tried to deal with this, firstly in 1927 by the rather brutal expedient of sacking the caretaker and adding his living quarters to the library. Then in 1930 the Public Libraries Committee agreed to an extension of the library costing £650. The new building opened in 1935.

One thing the new estate did not lack was a park. Lot 1, consisting of Danson Mansion and its immediate grounds, was bought by the council for £15,000 in 1924. Initially the council suggested that Christchurch ward should fund the purchase, but after some debate it was agreed that the charge should fall on the district as a whole.

The cost of converting the park to public use was estimated at £3500 and an application was made for a government loan for that amount, to be financed from the sale of National Savings Certificates in the District. The Park soon became a popular attraction in the area. The house was made into a museum. The grounds were laid out with tennis courts, cricket, football and hockey pitches, as well as a miniature golf course. Boats were available for hire for rowing and sailing on the lake, while an open-air swimming pool was opened in the park in 1936.