Playground of the north . . .

Sunny Vale  Gardens, Hipperholme, September 12, 1919
Sunny Vale Gardens, Hipperholme, September 12, 1919

According to the date on this postcard of Sunny Vale it is the 19th September 1919 and judging from the coats almost everyone is wearing it was not hot sunny day.

Sunny Vale had been open to the public for almost 40 years in 1919 and judging from the number of people on this photograph was still very popular even with the First World War having just come to an end.

The Bunce family gave out free tickets on a number of occasions during Sunny Vale’s long history.

These were notably to celebrate Queen Victoria’s 1897 Diamond Jubilee, coronations and other happy national events.

But they also gave them out during war time including not only the First World War but the Boer War (1898 – 1902) and during the Second World War.

Some readers may remember going to Sunny Vale for the 1935 King George V and Queen Mary’s Silver Jubilee.

If you did go you may have also been lucky enough to have received a Yorkshire Penny Bank account with an opening deposit of one shilling.

I once made some enquiries to ask if the account was closed would the account holder get the one shilling or five pence as it would be today. I was informed that no the one shilling was a token amount and the holder of the account had to have added to the one shilling before it could be officially closed and then what money was in the account could be handed over.

In this scene is the large Alexandra lake showing one of the two islands it had and quite a number of people out on rowing boats.

Unlike present day boating lakes where everyone has to row in the same direction, on this lake that rule does not seem to apply.

On the frontage of the wooden building on the right are the initials SVG – Sunny Vale Gardens leaving first time visitors in no doubt where they were.

It is several years now since my book about Sunny Vale was published and I well remember the publishing editor saying to me when I suggested this could be the next book.

‘Sunny Vale, surely there will be no one still alive that went there and even those that could remember it could will be dead by now’.

Little did he know – I think the book is now in its fourth or may be even its fifth reprint.

Sunny Vale is still talked about even by those who never went.

Why do these young people know about it, because their parents and grandparents and even great grandparents told them about it.

It was the Playground of the North and considered by many as second only to Belle Vue in Manchester.

Martin Nicholls is the secretary of the Ermine Street Project which is a not-for-profit social enterprise created to give those wishing to pursue a future in the moving image a springboard into their career.

Martin contacted me asking if our readers could help with their latest project ‘Finding the Pathfinders’. They are trying to trace a member of the Second World War Bomber Command, the person may not be alive now but to find his family would help the project to complete their research and story. Bomber Command veteran Mr Percy Canning with the help of his family and the project is trying to trace his old wartime crew mates. So far all the crew have been traced and spoken to or contact has been with their families, except for one.

The last member of the air crew they are trying to trace is Bomb Aimer Gordon Brown. It is believed that he came from Yorkshire and also played rugby. Following an appeal made on Look North someone did come forward and suggested Gordon Brown lived in Halifax and flew in Lancaster’s during the war and suggested his father owned a fireplace shop in Brighouse. After the war Gordon was promoted and may have stayed in on in the RAF. If anyone can help gentleman’s search for one of his crew please contact me 07854755756 or e-mail: and I will be pleased to send the information on.

For further information about this request please look at this internet link when the link opens click the You Tube link on the page near the bottom.

If Mr Brown is in Brighouse or has family here we need to know urgently because the film being produced goes out on September 11.