Topic: Orlando Street (TDN 2/11/2019)

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Orlando Street 

It was Charles Whitcombe who declared all Stratford’s streets should be named after the works of Shakespeare. Orlando is a much-loved character in the comedy ‘As You Like It’.

Orlando Street is divided into two parts by Windsor Park. While much of the street is residential, the section closest to town has changed appearance over the years as houses were removed and commercial buildings erected. Dominating the other side of this stretch of Orlando Street is Victoria Park and the grandstand. It hasn’t always been as we see it today either.

Rugby has been played at the park since the late 1890s, but the sports field was for many years rudimentary. People complained that the ground was bumpy, there was a slope and heavy rain caused flooding. Games were eventually played elsewhere.

In 1922, significant work was done to enhance the park. The New Zealand Rugby Union contributed a £500 loan to improve the playing fields. The rugby ground lay east-to-west then, so a grandstand was built beside the lake. A white fence enclosed the ground and tall trees grew around the perimeter. Such were the improvements, the Taranaki Rugby Union immediately allocated representative games there.

With regular club rugby at the park once again, Stratford businesses happily noted there were more people in town on Saturday afternoons.

Years later the alignment of the field was changed, improving the facility for rugby and cricket. In the late 1990s a new stand was built with its back to Orlando Street. The fence and perimeter trees have gone.

In Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ there’s a famous speech with the opening line “All the world’s a stage.” Orlando would have been pleased that Victoria Park is still Stratford’s sporting stage.

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Orlando Street (TDN 2/11/2019)