Bernard Oakley Memorial Garden and Pleasure Grounds Colman Hill Cradley

Bernard Oakley Memorial Garden and Pleasure Grounds Colman Hill Cradley Opening Ceremony Brochure from 1953 Halesowen Borough Council Sandwell Dudley West Midlands

Pete Donnelly used to live on Colman Hill in Cradley. The Parks opening ceremony brochure from 1953 found in the Peter Donnelly Archives. 

Bernard Oakley was a local lad who got killed in war..... the park was gifted to the neighbourhood by his father and mother in dedication to their Son..

THE MAIN ENTRANCE GATES, COLMAN HILL, CRADLEY The Garden and Grounds which comprise three acres one rood nine perches are situate between Colman Hill and Highfield Crescent Cradley in the Borough of Halesowen. The land is sloping towards Colman Hill and has a southerly aspect. New iron ornamental gates with York stone pillars have been erected at the main entrance in Colman Hill, the double gate bearing the inscription " The Bernard Oakley Memorial Gardens." On the stone pillar on the left hand side of the double gate is a bronze plate with the following inscription on it : " These Gardens and Pleasure Grounds were laid out and presented on June 27th, 1953 to the Borough of Halesowen by Mr. and Mrs. James Oakley in memory of their son, Bernard J. Oakley, who died on active service in Holland October 16th, 1944." On the pillar on the right hand side another bronze plate contains the words. " Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."—John 15-13. From these, a shrubbed drive leads to a car park, Dutch garden, and conveniences, then, turning to the left, to an open air stage facing up the slope to the northern part of the grounds where on the summit a shelter has been erected facing south towards the Clent and Walton Hills. Immediately in front of the shelter a walled terrace laid out with a lily pond and rose gardens has been constructed. The land on the opposite or east side has been reserved for a children's playground which already contains swings. Access can also be obtained from Highfield Crescent by means of a drive and gate on the north side of the Grounds. 

Bernard Oakley

Bernard Oakley

Bernard Oakley

Bernard Oakley

Bernard Oakley


Peter Donnelly 1932 - 2005 by Dr Carl Chinn MBE

Peter Donnelly was born in Birmingham, educated at Corpus Christi junior school, Stechford and later at the holy rosary, Saltley. While at the Holy Rosary he took and passed a drawing examination for Moseley school of art at which he spent several years tuning his artistic talent.

On leaving the art school he joined Birmingham printers, Sam Currier & Son in brook street, St Pauls square, as an apprentice commercial artist. After completing his apprenticeship he left Sam Currier and worked at various printers and advertising agencies gaining valuable experience before starting with his working associate Bob Burns (typographer). Donnelly Burns Graphic Design studio was in Chapel Street, Lye before moving to larger premises in Cradley heath then Harborne.

Before starting the business Peter entered and won the Sunday Telegraph national photographic competition. He submitted an essay of photographs illustrating the demise of the Birmingham and Black Country canals with fellow photographer Norman fletcher. To Peter and Norman, Midlands photographers and photographic societies seemingly had ignored the once great industrial arena that surrounded their everyday lives.

What an arena! what powerful exiting subjects for the camera; neglected canals, weed and web woven towpaths, old worn out narrow boats – redundant and half submerged in silted murky brown waters; steam trains rattling, hissing and bumping their waggons into line and the rail men who worked the line at that time.

Old foundries, run down factories and scrapyards – the industrial flotsam of a once great manufacturing region. Many six o’clock early morning starts were walked and many miles covered by peter and his camera.

Now over 50 years later, photographs taken during those early excursions are being published - looking back at the time, long before the surge of change and reconstruction 1962 - 1965