Location: Rose Bank Gardens near the town centre.
Description: Water features and various proposals for enhancing this public park.
In 1918 Charles Dyson Perrins generously gave Rose Bank house with its four acres of garden to the town as a public amenity. The house was used intermittently until it became so neglected that it was demolished in 1959. The gardens have fared a little better, but by and large have been under-used and have never quite fulfilled their potential.
In March 1923, an urban district council committee was formed to look into the possibility of developing Rose Bank house and having a winter gardens and pump room there. This may explain why, in the 1920s, architect Arthur Troyte Griffith, who is best remembered for being a very dear friend of Edward Elgar's, drew plans for a new spa in Rose Bank Gardens. The water would probably have come from the Rushey Valley because the council owned the water rights there. The proposal came to nothing, though in the early 21st century a similar proposal was made by a Central European spa company.
It was considered a standing disgrace that in a town that called itself a watering place the only place people could go for a drink of water was to St Ann's Well. A 500 pounds donation had been given for the development of Rose Bank Gardens, so in June 1924 the Streets Committee recommended that a new covered drinking fountain should be erected there. It would receive its water from the Rushey Valley, partly because the council already took water from the valley and also because, after analysis, the water was found to be just as good as that at St Ann's Well. A fountain would cost a massive 500 pounds, and piping the water from the Rushey Valley a further 300 pounds; anyway the council rejected the idea in favour of new winter gardens and pump room and a fountain could be put in the pump room. The council later bought the Assembly Rooms in Grange Road and turned them into winter gardens.
The minutes of Malvern Urban District Council for 29 July 1924 noted that a dogs' trough was to be placed near the bus terminus by Rose Bank Wall. In the same month an iron trough was laid in the pavement. It provided water perfectly, as one lifelong resident recalled in 2010. As a very young boy he waited with his mother every morning at the bus stop to take the bus to school. On one occasion he inadvertently stepped back into the trough, and his exasperated parent had to haul him home to change his soggy socks. There is now no trace of the dog trough.
Rose Bank Gardens Well - For many years a mysterious arch beneath a red brick wall puzzled local historians. It is located in the centre of the park opposite Tudor House about 50 feet back from the road. Thanks to Brian Iles who explored the site further and located a well there around the year 2010, it was realised that this was a forgotten water source. The well is 25'0'' deep with about 14'0'' of water in the bottom. The 1885 map shows a pump alongside the well. Some landscaping and the addition of an iron hand pump have made the site an attractive feature. It made its debut in 2014 when it was decorated for the May Day Well Decorating celebrations. The formal unveiling came in July 2014 when Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, Prof. Michael Clarke did the honours in a short ceremony.
In the bank opposite Warwick House on the Wells Road there is an unexplained vent pipe and walled up chamber. Within living memory a white tiled chamber four foot square and about eight foot high was walled up opposite Warwick House. Inspection of the Malvern stone wall makes it easy to detect the newer cement work. The vent pipe exists in the flower bed above.
The strategic importance of Rosebank Gardens was recognised in 2011 with the inauguration of the Route to the Hills scheme by Malvern Hills District Council. The intention is to utilise the northern end of the gardens with the 99 steps as part of a tourism path to and from the hills. The adjacent Mount Pleasant Hotel and grounds are working alongside the MHDC project with their own Gateway to the Hills scheme to establish a new visitor centre in conjuction with the Friends of Malvern Springs and Wells.
1. The mysterious walled up chamber.
2. An unexplained concealed arch in the gardens; is this a spout?
3. In 2012 two impressive squabbling birds were installed to watch over the 99 steps and the Gateway notice board. They were quickly nicknamed 'springs' and 'wells'.
4. The Troyte Griffith proposal for a spa. (courtesy Malvern Museum/David Habershon).
5. Rose Bank Gardens Well in May 2014.