A view across Redruth Playing Field towards the play equipment situated at one end of the field.
Redruth Playing Field – not far from the Gweal an Tops centre – was established as a public open space in 1947. The land here was purchased by Mrs Jose, who earlier in her life lived at 41 East End, Redruth, and donated the ground for development as a play-space in memory of her husband, Frank, and their son Richard, who died in the First World War.
Richard’s parents – Francis and Mary Ann Jose (nee Dawe), married in Redruth in 1888. Francis, known as Frank, was a cattle dealer, and Mary came from a family that owned a fruit and grocery shop at 79 East End, Redruth. The couple had two children – Florence (born in 1892) and Richard (born 1894) – and continued to live in Redruth – in several different properties on East End -until at least 1911. On the 1911 census, both children are unmarried and living with their parents: Florence is working as a school teacher, and Richard is assisting his father with his cattle dealing.
Redruth War Memorial, Victoria Park
Florence married Percy Trethowan (from Redruth) in August 1914, and Richard enlisted in Redruth to fight in WW1 probably soon after this. Sadly, Richard was not to return to his home - on the 6th October 1917, he was killed while deployed in the Third Battle of Ypres, with the Devonshire Regiment, aged 23. His resting place is not known, though he is commemorated on the Redruth War Memorial and the Tyne Cot Memorial, in Belgium, and mentioned on the headstone of his parents in St Day Road cemetery, just up the hill from the playing field donated in his memory.
Percy Trethowan, the husband of Florence, lost a younger brother, Leonard, in World War One; he died in April 1918, and he is also commemorated on the War Memorial in Redruth’s Victoria Park. 1
Richard’s father, Frank, died in Redruth aged 76 in early December 1943, and it’s possible that soon after this his mother, Mary, moved to live in Paignton. It is from here that she arranged the purchase and donation of the Playing Field, though she was not well enough to attend the opening on 23rd May 1947 when, the West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser reported:
‘a large gathering’ of children and teachers, and representatives from the Redruth Council
(to whom the field had been gifted) and the National Playing Fields Association (who
provided a grant for play equipment) came together to celebrate the opening of
‘one of the best playing fields in the district’. 2
In addition to the play equipment, an air-raid shelter at the entrance to the field was converted in to a shelter and provided with seating. Here, the plaque commemorating the gift of the field by Mrs Frank Jose was originally situated; the shelter has now gone, and the plaque in set in to the flowerbed just outside the park - see right.
Mary Ann Jose passed away (in Paignton) two years after the playing field was open, and is laid to rest with her husband at the nearby St Day Road cemetery.
Their generous donation of land to the people of Redruth has provided a lasting recreation area enjoyed for generations, and which continues to give opportunity for outdoor play in an increasingly-urban environment.