As well as a trip down memory lane – my dad used to take me there when I was a child – my visit to West Park (see video below) was also very interesting from an historical perspective.
Numerous parks in the towns and cities of the UK opened during the Victorian period, as the quality of life began an about turn for many ordinary people.
It’s a journey that’s still ongoing in the present, but nevertheless, all steps in the right direction.
Many individuals played – and continue to do so today – a positive role in the improvement of society.
One of them was Charles Pelham Villiers. Representing Wolverhampton, followed by Wolverhampton South as the town divided into two constituencies, his sixty-plus years in the House of Commons (1835 – 1898) means that he is the nation’s longest-serving MP.
In addition, he also holds the distinction of being the oldest person to be elected as an MP, as he was first past the post at the age of ninety-three.
Originally a Liberal, he then joined the Liberal Unionist party, the latter merging with the Conservative party to form the modern day Conservative & Unionist Party, to give them their full title
Although an aristocrat, with a privileged background and education, Villiers used his position to fight the corner of the ‘ordinary’ man.
Particularly remembered for his work towards repealing the corn laws, he was also involved with fighting slavery around the world, after the British abolished it in the early decades of the nineteenth century.
If you’re from the area, next time you’re in West Park, visit the stature of Charles Pelham Villiers. Perhaps pause and reflect on the work and life of one of Wolverhampton’s own.