The ‘jewel in the crown’ of Walsall town is, perhaps, its famous Victorian park, The Arboretum, and the setting of that jewel is entered through the historic gateways of a fine old Victorian building – the main Arboretum Lodge, with its distinctive clock tower.
Once home of the legendary Walsall Illuminations festival of lights enjoyed annually by millions since its inauguration in 1952, Walsall Arboretum itself has its origins in another much more ancient activity in the town – limestone mining.
The area now occupied by the Arboretum was originally part of Rushall until 1876. Limestone had been quarried in the vicinity since at least the late 18th century, with the Persehouse family demolishing Reynolds Hall so that the very profitable quarrying could continue. However, operations had ceased by the 1840’s, leaving two great pits to fill up with water, both from the nearby stream and from springs and general drainage. The larger of the two pits, now lakes, was named Hatherton Lake by 1845, and the fine old row of houses now known as Victoria Terrace just to the north was in fact built as Hatherton Lake Villas by the early 1850’s.