The park combines an upper area of traditional grass lawns with flower beds and a partly landscaped lower section which descends steeply through the rocky woodland known as Dungeon Wood.
History of the Park
During the 1860s, the Lockwood Local Board had considered purchasing a section of Dungeon Wood from the landowner, Henry F. Beaumont, with the intention of laying out a series of paths in order to create a small park for the people of Lockwood. However, the discussions came to nothing.
Although representatives of the corporation went to view the offered land in early June, they felt the location was too remote and the cost of landscaping it would be too high. Perhaps aware the Lockwood Local Board's earlier attempt, negotiations were made to try and persuade Beaumont that Dungeon Wood would make an ideal park and this was formally offered by mid-July.
The Town Council had formed the Beaumont Park Committee at a meeting on 16 June 1879 and this was tasked with overseeing the planning and development of the park. This group continued in its role until December 1891, when it was merged into a general committee to oversee all of the Corporation's parks.
At a Council meeting on 8 August 1879, the Mayor proposed that the offer of 25½ acres of land be accepted, which included four fields above Dungeon Wood. The lower section of the wood was bounded by the existing Meltham Branch Line, which ran along land owned by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company.
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 with a silver spade made by Messrs. Pearce and Co. of Cloth Hall Street. As the Beaumonts returned to Whitley Hall following an evening banquet at the Town Hall, their carriage was travelling through Aspley when the box containing the silver spade accidentally fell into the road. Luckily Seth Brooke, a foreman at Jere Kaye and Co. witnessed the incident and, recognising the coach, retrieved the box for safekeeping.
Initially it had been expected that the conversion of the land into a public park would be relatively straightforward, but the project took considerably longer than anticipated and the growing costs became a regularly bone of contention at Council meetings. By August 1883, it was reported the total cost to date had been £18,328 18s. 11d. and over 100 men were being employed setting out the park.
The Opening Ceremony
The park was officially opened on 13 October 1883 by the youngest son of Queen Victoria, HRH Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, and his wife Princess Helene, Duchess of Albany. Prior to the opening ceremony, the royal couple had visited the Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, which had been opened in July that year by the Duke of Somerset.
Following a luncheon at the Town Hall, the Duke and Duchess departed at 1:30pm and led a lengthy procession, which stretched the entire 1½ mile route from the Town Hall to the park entrance, via Lockwood and Swan Lane. According to the Huddersfield Chronicle's lengthy description of the entire day, almost the entire route had been festooned with banners and flags. On arriving at the park gates, the Mayor presented the Duke with a gold key which he used to open the park gates.
After the conclusion of a number of speeches, the Duchess of Albany planted a young sycamore sapling next to the park's ornamental lake, using a silver spade that was presented to her by the Mayor.
By the time of the opening ceremony, it was estimated that around two-thirds of the work had been completed, with most of the remaining work in the lower sections.
The Castle Refreshment Rooms
In mid-1884, a decision was taken by the Committee to construct a refreshment room and work was completed on this by July 1886. Built partly in the style of a castle, it was known as the Castle Refreshment Rooms, or just simply "The Castle".
The public had been able to access the lower reaches of the park since early 1883 via the tramway extension which ran from Lockwood to a terminus at Dungeon Cottages. In late 1888, improvements were made to this lower entrance with the installation of iron gates and the planting of trees alongside the path.
At the end of 1891, the Town Council decided to merge the Beaumont Park Committee with the Greenhead Park Committee in order to create a new body that would be responsible for all of the parks in the district.
During the Second World War, sections of the park's railings were removed in order to be melted down as scrap metal.
In the 1960s, the cost of repairs to the Castle Refreshment Rooms was such that the council took the decision to demolish it.
Within a couple of decades, the ornamental lake had been filled in and much of the park had been left to grow wild.
The Friends of Beaumont Park
Following the demolition of the park's pavilion in 1998, the Friends of Beaumont Park was formed as a pressure group with the aim of working with Kirklees Council with a view to restoring the park to its former glory.
Since then, a series of grants has allowed several major restoration projects to take place and the park is once again a popular recreational destination for the people of Huddersfield.
Notes and References
- "A Silver Spade Lost and Found" in Huddersfield Chronicle (01/Jun/1880).
- The silver spade was later loaned to the Surrey Art Loan Exhibition, held in Guildford in June 1884.