The land for Eastville Park was purchased by Bristol City Council from Sir Greville Smyth on the 6th of February, 1889. The price was £30,878. A small additional area was purchased in 1894 for £1,227. Many municipal parks were created around this time in all the large cities of Britain. This was in response to the deeply-felt need of the people to offer some relief from the appalling squalor and overcrowding that had developed in the previous hundred years and more.
In Bristol, this need had been articulated in a pamphlet published anonymously in 1871. The pamphlet was entitled ‘A Cry from the Poor: a letter from Sixteen Working Men to the sixteen aldermen of the city’. The authors of this pamphlet drew attention to the need for a ‘people’s park’ in the working class area of the city. They pointed out that the existing public parks, at Brandon Hill and on the Clifton Downs, were convenient for well-off people who lived nearby, but were of less benefit to the working people in other areas of the city.
Eastville Park was the largest of several open spaces purchased and opened to the public in the 1880s and 1890s by the Bristol City Council. Paths were laid out and trees were planted, and work began on an artificial lake. Initial landscaping work was completed in 1910, and the park has continued to play an important role as the population of the city has increased. The boathouse by the lake has had to be re-built twice after being destroyed by fire in 1913 and 1923, and the swimming pool has been unused since being hit by a bomb in World War 2. Many of the trees planted in the 1890s have now reached maturity and greatly add to the attraction of the park.