Echoes of the past: Park remains last visible legacy from Firth family

editorial image

It was on July 31, 1911 that Lady Janet Firth gave Bailiff Bridge a drinking fountain for both people and passing horses.

Sadly the fountain, having been deemed a road safety hazard, was removed in 1962.

With the closure of the carpet mill, its demolition and the company passing into the history books, little else remains as a visible legacy from the Firth family. The one exception is the King George V Park in Wakefield Road at Lightcliffe. This was handed over to the Hipperholme Coronation Committee on May 4, 1911.

The park was created from what during the 1850s was a sand stone quarry, something that is quite clearly shown on the ordnance map of that year. This would answer the question as to why there is a depression in the centre of the park – it is subsidence after the old quarry was filled in rather than a purposely made rose garden feature.

The park was created and given as part of the local celebrations for the coronation of King George V and was named after the new King.

The park is still there but the dividing high hedge, which some readers may remember seeing during the 1960s and separated the front formal gardens from the play area at the back, has long since been removed. The old park shelter at the back also went and the second shelter and toilets which were on the right hand side of the park as you looked at it from Wakefield Road, they too were demolished because of continual vandalism.

No doubt many readers will remember being taken to the park as children to try out their new two wheeler bike in what would be a safe environment. More importantly it gave a softer landing than on the road or path at home in those first tentative days after receiving a new Christmas bicycle. The local church held events at the park – galas and small fetes and a Whitsuntide gatherings after the procession of witness in and around the local community. This week’s featured photograph captures probably most, if not all, the local children posing just before the work began to create the new park in 1910. The gate behind the children leads into Till Carr Lane.