The creation of Howard Park.

This article was based on contemporary newspaper reports

Howard Park
Howard Park.

A meeting of a council sub-committee on 4 November 1886 was held for the purpose of taking forward the offer from Councillor Herbert Rhodes (see The Rhodes family of Tintwistle and Mersey Bank) of £2,000 as a nucleus for the provision of swimming baths or a public hall and free library in celebration of Queen Victoria's Jubilee. The meeting heard that Daniel Wood of Moorfield House (see Wood and Hill-Wood families) wished to endow a hospital, to be called “The Woods' Hospital”, and that his brother and sister in law Samuel and Anne Kershaw Wood of Talbot House wished to fund the erection of baths for the town providing arrangements could be made for a site and for water. It was decided that Lord Howard should be asked if he would provide land for a site for the hospital and baths as a free gift, and also for a supply of water for the baths without affecting the town's existing water supply.

The Glossop-dale Chronicle and North Derbyshire Reporter of 13 November 1886 reported: No time is being lost in carrying into effect the behests of the gentlemen and lady, who, in their generosity, have determined to supply a hospital, baths, and park for the benefit of the toilers in our borough. Their offers have been met with a praiseworthy response on the part of Lord Howard, who has, with marked kindness placed a plot of land 12 acres in extent at the disposal of the public, the site being of oblong shape running from the south in Talbot Road to north in North Road. At the lower extremity is to be located the baths, and in the upper portion is to be erected the hospital, and the park surrounding the whole. It will be admitted that the scheme is admirably designed, for the situation will not only be suitable but will occupy a very commanding position viewed from the entrance to the town by railway, at the same time forming a very effective improvement to the locality.

It was further reported that the park entrance would be off Talbot-road, to the west of the reservoir near the house at the corner of North Road, formerly owned by Mr. Phillips. The reservoir, of course, became the pond at the southern end of the park. The site was bounded on the north by the upper footpath in North road, a little below the lower of the two reservoirs on the top of the hill. On the west it was bounded by Barber’s Clough, and included the wooded dell and watercourse known by that name. On the east it was bounded by a triangular plot of land then in the occupation of Mr. James Hadfield, farmer, Old Glossop, that plot lying between the proposed site of the park and North Road. The park was to have a band stand erected on it, so that bands might on occasions play selections of music.

In a letter published in the Glossop-dale Chronicle and North Derbyshire Reporter of 27 November 1886, Thomas Michael Ellison, Town Clerk (see Ellisons of Glossop Hall), clarified that the gift of the park (and of the baths) would be vested in and under the management of trustees, rather than being a gift to the Town Council.

A meeting of the Highways Committee on 1 December 1886 heard that it would be necessary to divert two public footpaths running through the site of the proposed park. Lord Howard had made it a condition of giving the land and the council wished to avoid problems which had arisen at a similar site in Oldham where such footpaths running through a park had resulted in trouble being caused by people remaining in the park after dark. One path ran from Hill Top to Old Glossop and the other from The Ashes to The Heath, intersecting in what would become the centre of the new park. The 1879 map shows the routes of the original paths with the 1897 map showing where they met the new road round the park at three points.

1879 map
1879 map
                1897 map
1897 map

The Glossop-dale Chronicle and North Derbyshire Reporter of 29 January 1887 reported that the new park, to be known as Victoria Park, was in process of being laid out. The design was that of Mr. Milner, of the Crystal Palace, Sydenham, and the practical work was being carried out by his representative, Mr. Martin. The reservoir at the southern extremity of the park had been drained (the numerous fish, belonging to Lord Howard being moved to other quarters) so that the area of the pond could be considerably extended. The men employed to undertake the work were chiefly Glossop residents and previously unemployed.

The matter of diverting the footpaths was one which exercised the members of Glossop Town Council (never fond of spending money) on several occasions. At a meeting of the Highways Committee on 9 February 1887, the question of the costs of legal formalities (probably between £30 and £40) was raised. Francis Hawke (Lord Howard's agent) had suggested that the Corporation might bear the cost as the Council was the representative of the public who would benefit from new footpaths replacing badly kept existing ones. He had done so in the knowledge that the donors of the park would willingly pay the expenses if there were any difficulty in the Council doing so (which there was).
There was also opposition (especially from Councillors James and William Sargentson of Hadfield Ward) to the insertion in the deed conveying the site of the Woods' Hospital from Lord Howard to the Corporation of a clause whereby the Council agreed to pay half the cost of repairing the road adjoining the park (needed for access to the hospital and baths), the other half being paid by the Park and Baths Committee. Objections were based on maintenance of the road to villa properties, which Lord Howard intended to build, falling upon the rates. The situation was finally resolved in December 1887 when it was established that Lord Howard had undertaken to widen the road and keep in repair the added width when residences were built.

The Glossop-dale Chronicle and North Derbyshire Reporter of 18 June 1887 reported: The Victoria Park, under the active exertions of Mr. Martin and a staff of workmen about 70 in number, is rapidly approaching completion, and there is little doubt that by the 30th July, when the ceremony of the laying of the memorial stones of the public buildings on its site will take place, all will be practically finished with the exception of the planting of additional trees, which are necessarily deferred till a later period of the year. The drainage, pathways, flower-beds, and shrubberies, are all laid out, and the natural stream of water running through the park has been damned up in several places, with the result that a number of pretty waterfalls are formed at various points in its course. The stream terminates in the reservoir adjoining Dinting New Road, which now forms an ornamental basin, with an island in the centre, on which are planted several bamboo trees. These trees are a novelty in this part of Derbyshire, and the planting of them is an experiment, as there is a doubt if the climatic conditions of Glossop will be favourable to their growth. The foundations of the new public baths, and also of the Woods Hospital, are constructed, and apparently all is ready for the ceremony of laying the memorial stones.
The laying of the foundations and the official opening of the park took place on 30 July 1887 but, as the park still needed considerable work to finish it off, opening to the public was delayed.

Howard Park rockery
Howard Park rockery.

The Glossop-dale Chronicle and North Derbyshire Reporter of 28 April 1888 reported, under the heading "The Victoria Park and Baths" - A large number of trees and shrubs have been imported for plantation in the Victoria Park, which promises to be one of the prettiest sylvan nooks to be found within a very wide radius in the approaching summer. The baths are also being rapidly proceeded with now that the weather has become favourable for building operations.

An announcement in the Glossop-dale Chronicle and North Derbyshire Reporter of 2 June 1888 stated: The Howard Park. This park, which has been given by Lord Howard of Glossop, although not yet quite completed, will be opened to the public free of charge on Saturday, June 6th, at 3 p.m. A band will be in attendance. The Park will be opened dally afterwards from 10 a.m. until dusk on Weekdays, and from 12:30 until dusk on Sundays.
The newspaper further reported: The Howard Park - As will be seen from our Advertisement columns, the pretty little park on Dinting road, Glossop, the land for which was given by Lord Howard and the laying out thereof done at the expense of the late Mr. S. Wood, and Mrs. S. Wood, is to be opened on June 16th next. Hitherto the enclosure has been known as the Victoria Park but at a meeting of the trustees on Wednesday last, it was formally arranged to give it the title of Howard Park. Mr. David Downs, son of Mr. John Downs, a respected loom manager for many years at Howardtown Mills, has, we understand, been appointed park gardener. He served his apprenticeship with Mr. W. Irving, of Hawkshead Gardens, and is in every respect a young man of much promise in horticultural matters. The baths are not yet completed. We understand the management of this institution has been entrusted to Mr. W. Higginbottom, who, for a period of 30 years, has been a much esteemed servant of Messrs. Wood Brothers, at the Howardtown Mills, he for a great portion of the time having filled the position of manager in the spinning department.

A great deal of sadness was caused in Glossop when both Daniel Wood (on 7 February 1888) and Samuel Wood (on 8 April 1888) both died before the park, and the hospital, could be completed. A movement was started in the town to create a Memorial to the brothers. It was suggested that the memorial be erected in Norfolk Square, on the grounds that it would be accessible to and seen by more people, but it was ecentually decided to erect it in the new park.

Woods' Memorial
Woods' Memorial.

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Last updated: 23 July 2022