Public Parks Past & Present


History of Public Parks & Gardens

The West Riding was at the forefront of 19th Century Park development. Growing towns no longer had access to common land and the working class needed a recreational outlet. Pleasure resorts were developed in Harrogate, Ilkley and down south in Bath but it was in Bradford where early Park development really took hold.  During a temporary work shortage in the wool trade the Woolsorters set too to create a Park based on subscription for relaxation. They even received a £100 subscription from Queen Victoria towards the cost. In 1850 Peel Park was opened as the 20th park in England followed by Leeds Woodhouse Moor in 1857 and Bingley Prince of Wales Park in 1865.

Samuel Cunliffe Lister the owner of the biggest silk mill in the world known as Manningham Mill gave his name to Lister Park and Roundhay Park Leeds was opened 2 years later in 1872. After ‘The Great War’ the massed displays of flowers were progressively replaced by ‘cleansweep planting’ creating great swards of grass.  The trend away from horticulture began and the Parks movement came to represent less what was happening within society as funding became a competative sport. Nevertheless in 1926 (Joseph Bentley local Publishing)  visitor numbers to Peel park included 214,000 playing bowls, 28,000 boating and 100,046 visiting the conservatories.

Parks near you in the 21st Century

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Looking after your local park the Civic Trust claims to be the country’s leading urban environment charity. It manages the Green Flag Award scheme which is designed ‘to be an impetus to an ever-increasing improvement in the quality of our parks and green spaces. The declining quality of our city parks is undoubtedly a cause for concern in many places but there are also many examples of thriving, popular sites run by dedicated, enthusiastic people working closely with their local communities. Many parks that were run-down and neglected just a few years ago are now shining examples of outstanding green space management.’  The Green Flag Award was set up to recognise and reward these efforts.
Locally Yorkshire has won a high proportion of awards including:-

  • -Anglers Country Park, Wakefield Metropolitan District Council
  • -Central Park, Haworth, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
  • -Cholera Monument Grounds and Clay Wood, Sheffield City Council
  • -Cusworth Park, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council
  • -East Park, Kingston-upon-Hull City Council
  • -Ecclesall Woods, Sheffield City Council
  • -Elsecar Park and Local Reservoir Nature Reserve, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council
  • -Falsgrave Park, Scarborough Borough Council
  • -Firth Heritage Park, Sheffield City Council
  • -Friary Gardens, Richmondshire District Council
  • -Glen and Crescent Gardens, Scarborough Borough Council
  • -Glen Gardens, York City Council
  • -Golden Acre Park, Leeds City Council
  • -Harold Park, Bradford City Council
  • -Haw Park Wood, Wakefield Metropolitan District Council
  • -Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds City Council
  • -Lister Park, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
  • -Lotherton Hall Estate, Leeds City Council
  • -Manor Heath Park & Jungle Experience, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council
  • -Norfolk Heritage Park, Sheffield City Council
  • -Northend Park, East Riding of Yorkshire Council
  • -Oak Road, Kingston-upon-Hull City Council
  • -Oakwell Hall Country Park, Kirklees Metropolitan Council
  • -Ogden Water Country Park, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council
  • -Peace Gardens, Sheffield City Council
  • -Peel Park, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
  • -Pudsey Park, Leeds City Council
  • -Rother Valley Country Park, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
  • -Roundhay Park, Leeds City Council
  • -Rowntree Park, York City Council
  • -Sandall Beat Wood, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council
  • -Sheffield Botanical Gardens, Sheffield City Council
  • -Sheffield Winter Garden, Sheffield City Council

So take a trip to your local Park and imagine all the visitors who have derived pleasure or solace in the environment over the last century or so.

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