Yesterday I walked into Town from the office for a meeting and took the route through the adjacent park. It is the oldest in the town and was built by public subscription in 1854. It still has its Victorian surrounding wall and the black iron gates which are similar to the Lodge and gates where I work.
It has plenty of flower beds and walks, the largest bowling green in the north-west (might even be in the UK) a small museum, a bird house, a folly type ‘castle’ and a sort of wooden pavilion. The Victorians liked to make their parks educational and so there were also other interesting things displayed there such as the base of the medieval market cross. This had been sold at one point to a farmer in Upton who used it to mark the grave of his dog, it was then brought back into the park in Victorian times and then subsequently removed back to the market. There used to be stocks, and also a cannon from the siege of Sebastopol, but these were sadly melted down in the 2nd World War for spitfires.
The other curiosity brought to the park by the Victorians was the above boulder. I should have put something against the picture for scale but I can tell you that it is taller than me. It was found during building work on Oxford Road and dragged to the park by a team of eight horses. It must have been quite a sight as one stretch is up a steep hill. It is estimated to weigh 30 tons – at the time it was compared to three African elephants.
It is a huge glacial eratic and is composed of porphyritic felstone. Dr Sainter, a local Victorian antiquarian believed it to show striations or grooves which are produced by the friction of being dragged along the ice by the glacier – I have borrowed the engraving from his book, Scientific Rambles, but I can’t say I noticed them yesterday – I shall have to go out for another look. Certainly there is a flat side and a rounded side.
It reminds me very much of the huge boulders up at the Roaches, which seem to lie about the place like giant’s marbles. If you walk up Bosley Cloud and look across from the summit to the Roaches you can see this peculiar landscape which is like nothing else in the area.
If the boulder had been exposed on the surface in prehistory I think there would be all sorts of legends and myths attached to it. It would almost certainly have had a name. It doesn’t feel quite right to see it sat on a concrete plinth in a park, it should be out in the countryside somewhere, half submerged in the earth and sleeping in the undergrowth.