Mr. Henry F. Beaumont (1833–1913), of the Whitley Beaumont estate and Crosland Hall, South Crosland, had initially offered in May 1879 an area of land around 30 acres in the Crosland Moor area for conversion into Huddersfield’s first public park.1
25, John William Street, Huddersfield, May 17th, 1879.
To Joseph Batley, Esq., Town Clerk.
I am directed by Henry Fredk. Beaumont, Esq. of Whitley Beaumont, to ask you whether or not the Corporation of Huddersfield are willing to accept from him the gift of a portion of Crosland Moor, containing an area of not less than 30 acres, for the purpose of a public park and recreation ground. Mr. Beaumont would offer the land in its present state, without contributing anything towards laying it out as a park, and would probably ask the Corporation to surround such park with a public road, where such public road does not now exist. If such a gift is acceptable to the Corporation, I will, on receiving your intimation to that effect, make you a more definite offer, and Mr. Beaumont will meet the Mayor and such committee or deputation as may be desirable upon the ground. Before receiving your reply it does not appear necessary to enter into details, and I shall, therefore, be glad to hear from you as soon as possible, whether or not Mr. Beaumont’s offer is entertained by the Corporation.
I am, dear sir, yours, respectfully,
The Huddersfield Chronicle provided much coverage of the offer and stated that, “May we not confidently assert that Huddersfield, for the first time since Doomsday, has had the gift of thirty acres of land?”
Although the Huddersfield Corporation were keen to take up the offer, and indeed toured the proposed site in early June, it was felt the location was too remote and inaccessible.2 The area of Dungeon Wood, a steep-sided wood which ran along the western side of Meltham Road towards Big Valley, had previously been mooted as a possible location for a park as early as 1866. By mid-July, the Corporation had persuaded Beaumont to donate that instead.3
At a meeting held on 8 August 1879, the mayor proposed that Beaumont’s offer be accepted:
MR. BEAUMONT’S OFFER OF A PARK FOR HUDDERSFIELD.
ACCEPTANCE BY THE CORPORATION.
A committee of the whole Council was held last evening, under the presidency of the Mayor, when the offer of H.F. Beaumont, Esq., J.P., of Whitley Beaumont, of a Park at Dungeon Wood, Lockwood, was brought forward, on the report of the special sub-committee appointed to consider the offer. Upon the motion of the Mayor, seconded by the ex-Mayor, It was almost unanimously resolved to accept Mr. Beaumont’s offer. The land which will be thus acquired by the Corporation covers 25½ acres, of which five will be required for roads. The whole of Dungeon Wood will be taken in from the commencement of Starling End to the end of Butter Nab. It is proposed to bound the upper side of the new Park with a road ten yards wide, which will extend from Starling End to Butternab. Butternab Lane will be widened from six to ten yards, from its junction with Woodside Road to its termination at Batternab. Other roads will be constructed upon the property effecting junctions with Dryclough Lane and Moorend Road. A portion of the site is in the township of South Crosland and the rest is in Lockwood. With the exception of four fields the whole of the site is woodland, and from the terrace overlooking the Meltham branch line of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway a magnificent view may be obtained. The entire coat to the Corporation of making the roads. &c., stipulated for will be £4,153, which it is estimated will be covered by an annual rate of one-sixth of a penny in the pound, spread over the whole co the borough.
We cordially congratulate the inhabitants of Huddersfield upon the acquisition of a Park, and doubt not that they will duly appreciate the generosity of the donor, as well as approve of the stops taken by their municipal representatives.— Huddersfield Chronicle (09/Aug/1879)
By November that year, a Deed of Conveyance had been signed and a ceremonial handover took place on Saturday 29 May 1880 in which Mrs. Beaumont cut the first sod of earth. A council meeting which occurred previously on Wednesday 19 May 1880 had confirmed that the park would be named the “Beaumont Park” and a rather flowery opinion piece in the Chronicle (21/May/1880) lamented that apparent delays between Beaumont’s offer and the handover, although the newspaper’s claim that the park could have been ready and opened for the summer of 1880 was certainly naïve!4
As soon as Beaumont made his initial offer, the Town Council had appointed a subcommittee to liaise with him and to progress the project. With the handover ceremony complete, the Beaumont Park Committee was formed (by a resolution passed by the council on 16 June) to oversee the planning and development of Dungeon Wood.
A meeting of the committee took place on 22 June 1880 and the minutes recorded that the members were “the Mayor, Aldermen Woodhead, Brigg, Denham, Crossland, J. Vickerman, J. Haigh, W. Hirst, Marriott, Sykes, and Schofield (S)”, with the Mayor presiding. It was reported that Mr. Beaumont’s estate agent, Mr. Dunderdale, had a recent large-scale survey of Dungeon Wood in his possession and the committee resolved to obtain a copy so that they could begin planning roads, paths and fences.
As the work progressed over the following months and years, concerns began to increase over the total cost of the park to the town and this became a contentious issue between some of the councillors at the Town Council meetings. Councillor Chrispin, in particular, was an outspoken critic of what he regarded as the excesses of the Beaumont Park Committee and their inability to reign in the costs of developing the park. However, the Chronicle did later note that the expenditure to date on Greenhead Park had exceeded £32,000.5
The Huddersfield Chronicle regularly summarised the meetings and the following gives an overview of the issues and progress, along with other notable events. The date shown is that of the meeting or event.
The area that had been previously cleared and laid out for the sod cutting ceremony was used again on the morning of Sunday 26 September 1880 for the commencement of the annual Honley Feast.6 The temporary stand housed around 250 vocalists and 50 musicians, and it was estimated some 5,000 people attended the event. The event began at 7:15am with the singing of the hymn “Come Let Us Join Our Cheerful Songs” and was followed by a selection of choruses from Handel’s “Messiah”. Afterwards, the choir and musicians were given refreshments in Lockwood Town Hall.7
Plans were considered for how existing roads would be affected by the park, particularly Hanson Lane and Moor End Road.
The Districts, Highways and Improvements Committee accepted a proposal to name the road which was to be built at the top of the park, “Beaumont Park Road”.
Plans for an entrance at Dryclough were abandoned and a new site was chosen for the main entrance gate and lodge house.8 The committee visited Butternab Road to view progress. It was agreed that they would advertise for “competitive designs” for the layout of the park.
The Borough Surveyor reported that the building of Beaumont Park Road was nearing completion and that the project to widen Butternab Road was progressing well.
The Borough Surveyor reported that he felt all the roads for the park would be completed by June.
It was reported workmen had begun fixing the balustrade along the Butternab Road frontage. The Borough Surveyor stated that he was nearly ready to submit his layout for the park.
A deputation from the Huddersfield Naturalists’ Society attended and applied for “some part of the Park to be reserved for the society as a section for the culture of aquatic and other plants”. This was agreed and suitable spaces were marked on the map.
A small group, including the Mayor and Borough Surveyor, were deputised to visit a park in Rotherham which was reported to be “composed to a certain extent of rocks”.
Finally, it was agreed to approach the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company to see if the land above the northern entrance to Butternab Tunnel could be used as part of the Park.
It was resolved that “the fence forming the boundary the boundary of the park along the lower or deferred line of road from Butternab to the tunnel be a dry stone wall with lined tops instead of palisading.”
The Borough Surveyor reported that good progress had been made on laying out the park and that 36 men were currently employed on the work.
The Executive Subcommittee paid a visit to the park and inspected work on the new entrance lodge before walking over to the Butternab end of the park where they found that work laying out the artificial lake was progressing well. The Borough Surveyor submitted a plan for the proposed band pavilion and it was approved.
The Borough Accountant submitted a statement of expenditure which showed the amount spent to date was £9,418 11s. 1d. An article in the Chronicle (29/Jul/1882) raised concerns that so much had been spent yet very little of the appeared to have been in layout of the various paths and areas for the public.
The Borough Surveyor reported good progress and that the roof was currently being added to the entrance lodge. The number of men employed was now 40.
Having been granted space in the park, the Huddersfield Naturalists’ Society met at Victoria Hall to discuss how they should proceed with the proposed botanic garden.
The committee met at the park where they were pleased with the progress at the Butternab entrance. It was reported that Messrs. R. Whiteley and Nephew had tendered for the construction of the band stand at a cost of £139.9
The District Surveyor reported that he had purchased 250 rhododendron trees at cost of just over 82 shillings from Mr. Lister Kershaw.10 It was also reported that the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company had agreed to lease the land above Butternab Tunnel to the Huddersfield Corporate at a cost of £1 per year.
95 men were now employed to work on the park.
A new tramway from Huddersfield to Lockwood was opened on 11 January 1883. Rather than terminate at Lockwood Bar, the line ran a further half mile along Meltham Road to a terminus at Dungeon Cottages, where a route up to a lower park entrance was planned. Although this proved popular and meant that a Meltham Branch Line station in Dungeon Wood was superfluous, a decision was taken in 1901 to dismantle the extension and site the terminus back in Lockwood.
It was resolved to purchase 20 extras seats for the park, along with iron vases.
122 men where now employed in the park.
13/Oct/1883: The Official Opening
The official opening ceremony for Beaumont Park was conducted by the youngest son of Queen Victoria, HRH Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, and his wife Princess Helene, Duchess of Albany.11
A formal procession of around 4,000 people, which stretched for a mile and half, travelled from Huddersfield to the park, although the combination of cars, elaborate floats, horses, marching bands and people walking meant that parts of the parade moved at different speeds. Soon the carefully planned procession had descended into chaos, much to the delight of the thousands of spectators lining the route.
The most detailed newspaper description of the event was printed in the Huddersfield Chronicle (15/Oct/1883).
The release of the Borough Fund Accounts gives the Chronicle the opportunity to show the annual breakdown of costs for Beaumont Park.
At the monthly meeting of the Town Council, Councillor Crispin raised concerns at the amount of money thus far spent on Beaumont Park — £22,495 8s. 6d. — and the negative publicity this was generating, given that only two-thirds of the work was complete. After much debating, it was finally agreed that a sum of £2,500 would be made available to finish the work.
It also was noted that the spend equated to over £1,000 per acre of park. In today’s terms, that equates to over £100,000 per acre with a total cost in excess of £2,000,000.
It was reported that Mr. Gilbert D. Winter had made a gift of two swans for the lake in the park, and that they had been received since the last meeting and were doing well.12
It was resolved that the balustrade “which had been constructed near the lake, and overlooking the railway tunnel” be extended to prevent accidents.
The Borough Surveyor was instructed to procure 20,000 primroses and 5,000 daffodils for planting in the park and to erect signs prohibiting dogs from entering the park unless they were under control.
45 men were working on the site.
It was agreed to purchase a roller and lawn mower for the park and a resolution banning the sale of refreshments in the park on Sundays was passed.
In a separate Town Council meeting, letters of condolence to Queen Victoria and to the Duchess of Albany on the event of the death of HRH Prince Leopold, who had opened the park only a few months before, were drafted and approved.
69 men were now employed at the park and their average weekly wages amounted to £71.
It was resolved to obtain tenders for 50 more seats and benches for the park and a letter from the Huddersfield Temperance Brass Band offering to play in the park during the summer evenings was considered.
The committee met at the Town Hall and proceeded by special tram car to the stop at Dungeon Wood. From there, they walked up the path to entrance next to the Meltham Branch Line bridge. They found considerable progress had been made and the work was of a satisfactory nature.
They than considered a proposal to build a refreshment room in the park and it was proposed the Borough Surveyor draw up a plan for their approval.
Concerns were raised at the number of “rabbits and other ground game” in the park and the damage they were doing. It was proposed that a “gun be purchased and a licence procured for the purpose of killing the ground game”.
The committee also agreed to the purchase of music stands for the band stand and that glasshouses be erected for the propagating of plants.
Initial plans for the refreshment rooms were approved and the Borough Surveyor was asked to complete them and estimate the costs.
57 men were now working in the park.
The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company had consented to greenhouses being built on a strip of their land, at a cost of 5 shillings a year. However, the company had also complained that water was flowing from the park onto their railway line and the Borough Surveyor was asked to investigate.
The site for the refreshment rooms was agreed and it was resolved that they should cost no more than £800.
Six tenders had been submitted for the concrete work required to “complete the roof and floors” of the refreshment rooms. They were considered and John Cooke of Folly Hall was awarded the job.13
A discussion took place around the issue of asking the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company to consider building a station “at a place convenient to the park”.14
Once again the issue of the cost of Beaumont Park was raised at a Town Council meeting. Previously, it had been agreed that a limit of £2,500 was to be placed on completing the park and later the sum of £800 had been approved for the refreshment rooms. However, it was reported that a further £4,234 had been spent to date, although this figure was later contested.
Councillor Chrispin was particularly critical of what he saw as being the excesses of the Beaumont Park Committee and the heated debate appears to have tried the patience of the Mayor.
It was agreed that park gardener be allowed the sum of £4 a year to purchase seeds.
Tenders were accepted for various jobs required to finish the refreshment rooms.
Arrangements were made for live music in the park every Thursday evening and a request for a pay rise from the park superintendent, Andrew Paterson, was turned down.
The refreshment rooms — now dubbed “The Castle” — inspected and found satisfactory, although it was proposed that a lightning conductor should be fitted to the building.
It was noted that members of the public had been damaging plants and flowers in the park and that notices should be posted to discourage such behaviour.
A gift of two swans from the Central Wards Committee were accepted with thanks.
A tender from Mr. F. Maffin for the erection of a propagating house and potting shed (“not including heating apparatus”) was accepted.15
The park superintendent, Andrew Paterson, had again applied for a pay rise and this time it was accepted. His salary was increased from 25 to 30 shillings a week and he was allowed to continue to live rent-free at the park’s entrance lodge.
The tender of Mr. C.H. Carney “for the supply and fixing of the iron gates for the entrance to the park near Meltham Road” was accepted.
These are presumably the gates which still exist at the park’s lower entrance:
It was recommended that the Town Clerk write to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company to inform them that water was dripping from the railway bridge onto the path near the Meltham Road park entrance. It was also suggested that the company may wish to plant flowers on the railway embankment to make it more attractive to park visitors.
A tender from Messrs. H. Cross and Son for the painting the iron palisading gates in the park was approved
Finally, it was resolved that a fence should be placed around the tree planted by the Duchess of Albany at the park’s opening ceremony and a “brass plate or painted board” be fixed to indicate the importance of said tree.
Purchase of six iron plates detailing the bye-laws for the park were approved, to be fixed in suitable locations.
It was agreed that the Town Clerk should write to Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company and to Mr. H.F. Beaumont “as to the desirability of planting with trees the railway embankment abutting Meltham Road, and the land on each side of the roadway leading from Meltham Road to the park entrance”.
This was seemingly agreed by the parties involved, as the route is indeed lined by trees:
The estimate for the annual cost of running the park, submitted by the Borough Accountant, was agreed and the Finance Committee was requested to include the sum of £550 in their budget for the next financial year.
The tender of Mr. H.B. Kendall for “painting and varnishing seats” in the park was approved.16
The committee approved a plan to lay a pipe to provide a drinking water fountain near the children’s playground.
The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company was once again approached regarding the planting of trees near the Meltham Road entrance and a previous decision to plant the railway embankment with shrubs was changed to the planting of seeds instead.
The park superintendent, Andrew Paterson, received a pay increase from 30 to 35 shillings a week.
Decisions were also made to approach the railway company with the suggestion of building a station at the western end of the park and to engage bands to play one evening a week during the summer months. The Payments Committee later agreed to that, on the proviso that not more than £30 should be spent per annum on live music in each park.
It was later reported that the railway company replied on 15 July to say that they were considering the suggestion.
At a Town Council meeting, it was apparently decided that the Beaumont Park Committee should be combined with the Greenhead Park Committee to form a general committee responsible for the town’s parks and this appears to be the last reference in the Chronicle to the Beaumont Park Committee.
In one final swan song (apologies for the pun!), it was noted at the same meeting that two swans from Greenhead Park were to be transferred to Beaumont Park and that one of the swans from the latter should be sold.
Andrew Paterson, who is mentioned above, was born around 1836 in Scotland. His wife, Margaret, was born in Durham and they married sometime around 1869. She died between the 1901 and 1911 Censuses.
Andrew’s name was recorded by local newspapers as both “Patterson” and “Pattison” and the 1871 Census names him as “Abraham Patterson” — at that time, he was a domestic gardener at Dog Kennels (this is a house situated on Dog Kennel Bank Lane, Almondbury, where it is believed the hunting dogs of Longley Hall were looked after).
They had one daughter, Mary Ellen Paterson, who was born around 1871 in Kirkheaton and was living with her father as a spinster in the lodge at the park when then the 1911 Census was taken. Mary Ellen worked as a dressmaker. It is currently unknown what happened to Mary Ellen after her father’s death.
Sources and Further Reading:
- Discovering Old Huddersfield: Part Four (2000), pages 92-105.
- Mr. Dunderdale’s letter is reproduced from the Huddersfield Chronicle (22/May/1879). According to an article printed the day before, the area of land was named as the South Crosland part of the Whitley Beaumont estate.
- That area is now partly taken up by the Crosland Moor Airfield, which was built in the mid-1940s.
- The Huddersfield Chronicle (27/May/1879) contained a letter to the editor from someone who signed themselves as “Wood Ranger” which extolled the virtues of Dungeon Wood as a location rather than the more remote Crosland Moor. Letters from other readers during the following weeks proposed various other sites around Huddersfield as being superior to Crosland Moor.
- The same article was highly critical of the lacklustre May Day events at Greenhead Park, Huddersfield, when compared to the event held at Peel Park in Bradford which had raised over £1,400 for local charities.
- “Scraps and Hints” in Huddersfield Chronicle (28/Nov/1882)
- The Honley Feast was a local week-long holiday for textile workers, similar to the better-known Wakes Week.
- The old Lockwood Town Hall on Swan Lane is now home to the local institution that is Dixon’s Milk Ices.
- An entrance to the park exists at the end of Dryclough Road, but the main entrance is further down Beaumont Park Road, towards Butternab Road.
- This was Robert Whiteley (1814-1885) of West Hill, Huddersfield. The 1881 Census names him as a 67-year-old “Master Building & Joiner” employing 37 men and 29 boys.
- Lister Kershaw (1825–1891) was a “nurseryman, seedsman and landscape gardener” who ran a large nursery at 10 Briggate, Brighouse. Kershaw’s Garden Centre recently celebrated 150 years of trading.
- Prince Leopold died 5 months later from a cerebral haemorrhage.
- This seems to have been bank agent Gilbert Douglas Winter (1852–1909), son of Thomas and Mary Jane Winter, who was born in Lincolnshire but lived in Huddersfield for a short period around in the mid-1880s and early 1890s. He eventually became a bank manager in Guisborough, North Yorkshire. He married Edith Mary Coates on 1 June 1886 at St. George, Hanover Square, London, and was buried 6 October 1909 in Coatham, North Yorkshire, aged 57.
- This was most likely the 47-year-old “John Cook” listed in the 1881 Census as a “Civil Engineer & Surveyor” living at Water House, Huddersfield Road, North Bierley. He was born in Monkwearmouth, Durham, and appears to have moved to Huddersfield just prior to the census. His eldest son, James, was a joiner.
- An article published in the Chronicle on 23 June argued that a railway station in the park was a necessity.
- This was likely Almondbury joiner Fred Maffin (1854–1901), son of weaver Henry and Maria Maffin, born 17 March 1854 and baptised at All Hallows, Almondbury, 4 June 1854. He married Alice Goddard (daughter of warper James Goddard) at All Hallows on 22 May 1880. At the time of his death, aged 47, he was living at 15 Squirrel Ditch, Almondbury, and was buried at All Hallows on 24 December 1901. His will, proved 22 March 1902, left an estate worth £1,344 13s. 3d.
- This was painter and decorator Henry Beaumont Kendall (1866–1925) of Almondbury, son of decorator Sam and Mary Kendal. He married Annie Roebuck in 1897 and the 1911 Census lists them as living at 72 West Parade, Huddersfield, with their 12-year-old son, Leslie Roebuck Kendall.