Then & Now: Alexandra Park, Pietermaritzburg
Pietermaritzburg - Comprising 86.5 hectares, Pietermaritzburg’s Alexandra Park was laid out in 1860 and opened in 1863.
The park was named after Princess Alexandra of Denmark when she married Albert Edward Prince of Wales. They would later become King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.
The centrepiece of the park is the cricket oval with its Jubilee Pavilion. A national monument, the Pavilion’s foundation stone was laid on June 22, 1897, and completed on May 24, 1898. The design of the Pavilion, in the Chinese style, is based on Queen’s Park cricket ground in Chesterfield, in the UK.
Sadly the bandstand built in 1892 to commemorate the service of Regiments at Fort Napier, which you can partially see in the old picture, is no longer present. The old picture is from a 1905 postcard.
Alexandra Park is one of the green belts which contributes to Pietermaritzburg’s reputation as “The Garden City” and is a key component of the city’s sporting and cultural life.
Today, known as The City Oval, Alexandra Park hosted its first first-class cricket match in 1894/95 against the Marylebone Cricket Club.
It is one of only three first-class cricket grounds in the world to have a tree within the boundary ropes and tradition has it that any cricketer that scores a century or takes a five-wicket haul in a match gets to plant a tree at the ground.
The 12 000-capacity ground today hosts the KwaZulu-Natal Inland men’s and women’s teams, and the Dolphins. It hosted two matches in the 2003 Cricket World Cup and in July 2015, hosted three youth ODIs between South Africa U-19 and Bangladesh U-19.
When our photographer Shelley Kjonstad visited the Oval this week, the Dolphins were involved in a pre-season training match.
The Independent on Saturday