A BOOK exploring the proud heritage of Mary Stevens Park has gone on sale following a special launch event at the Norton park.

‘Beauty For Everyone: The Story of Mary Stevens Park’ has been written by the Mary Stevens Park History Group, with local historians Roy Peacock and Stephen Howard compiling much of the work.

Beginning with a look at the early years of the glass industry in the 1600s, the book looks at how the park has played an important part in local life for several centuries and features a number of rarely seen images of the area.

A number of local volunteers contributed to the work by providing photographs, testimonials, memories and research.

The book is part of a programme of improvements and investments at the park following a £2.6m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to Dudley Council and The Friends of Mary Stevens Park.

Recent improvements to the park include work to the park gates, war memorial, bandstand and Heath Pool as well as the creation of a new cafe and toilet facilities. A heritage ranger has also been appointed to deliver a programme of activities at the park.

Councillor Hilary Bills, cabinet member for environment, who launched the book alongside Roy and Stephen, said: “It is an honour to meet with the many local historians and volunteers who have made the vision for this fascinating book into a reality.

“The book provides a great insight into local history and also highlights the significant role that green spaces such as Mary Stevens Park continue to play in people’s lives.”

The book also serves as a tribute to Stourbridge benefactor Ernest Stevens – 60 years on from his death in 1957 – who donated the park to the community.

Roy said: “The most important thing to remember is that Ernest Stevens gave this park to the people of Stourbridge.

“He bought it with the sole purpose of giving it away, so the community could enjoy it. If the council would’ve bought it, they would have turned it into housing – they had plans to do that.

“Stevens would always put children first. As soon as he bought the park, the first thing he put in it was a paddling pool and a sand pit.”

He added: “Stourbridge has a lot to thank Ernest Stevens for.”

People can purchase a copy of the book for £7.99 from Mary Stevens Coffee Lounge and Oldswinford Coffee Lounge No92, while free copies have also been made available for local schools.