[Yellow Ribbon] R. A. Jones

[R.A. Jones] With development continuing, the importance of retaining public open spaces and protecting the town's heritage was not lost on several influential people.

Arguably the most important of them was the wealthy High Street jeweller and one-time councillor, R.A. Jones. Over a period of eight years from 1913-21 Jones gave three substantial tracts of land - the Jones Memorial Ground, Priory Park and the Victory Sports Ground - to the town for public use to compliment other smaller gifts that he had been providing since the 1890s (clocks, public seats, sports trophies, etc.).

The Jones Memorial Ground (1913), in memory of his wife, was given as playing fields for the town's elementary school children.

Prittlewell Priory and the surrounding 30 acres of parkland (1917) were given to the town for a museum and public park. Due to the war, the park was not formally opened until 1920, when the official opening ceremony was carried out by the Duke of York (later King George VI). The Priory was restored and opened as a museum two years later. The opening ceremony was performed by Sir C. Hercules Reid (President of the Society of Antiquaries), in the company of the Mayor (Sir John Francis) and numerous other dignitaries.

The Victory Sports Ground (1921) was given in memory of sportsmen from the Borough who had fought and died in the First World War.

In recognition of his outstanding generosity, Jones was made a Freeman of the Borough and given the MBE. When he died in 1925, he was buried beneath a cross in the cloister garth of the Priory which he had donated. His son, Edward Cecil Jones, who also served as a councillor and gave much of his own personal fortune to the town, was buried beside him when he died in 1967.

From A History of Southend, by Ian Yearsley

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