The People's Park

The People's Park was the gift of Sir Francis Crossley to the people of Halifax.

The Park was designed by Joseph Paxton and Edward Milner. It stands across the road from the Crossley's Belle Vue home It covers an area of 12½ acres which were previously 5 fields. It was built at a cost of £50,000.

It opened on Friday, 14th August 1857. The day was declared a public holiday for the town. Mrs Sunderland sang at the opening ceremony. At the ceremony, Crossley was given a book containing the address which he mentions in his will

And whereas amongst my books will be found a volume, which I very much prize, containing an address presented to me on the occasion of the opening of the People's Park, at Halifax, and having the signatures of upwards of eight thousand of the townsmen and townswomen of Halifax aforesaid, appended thereto. Now I hereby expressly commend the same volume to the special care and conservancy of my dear wife and son, Savile Brinton Crossley, and of such others of my descendants as may from time to time be entitled to the possession thereof, being assured that they will take such means as will best secure the delivery down of that volume as an heirloom in my family to the latest possible generation, so that the same may belong to the male head of my personal branch of the family of Crossley for the time being

William Heaton was the first park keeper.

The idea for the Park was conceived during a visit which Crossley and his wife made in 1855 to the White Mountains in the USA – they felt that the workers of Halifax should be able to enjoy such open spaces and proposed ...

to arrange art and nature so that they shall be within the walk of every working man in Halifax; that he shall go to take his stroll there after he has done his hard day's toil, and be able to get home without being tired

Crossley attempted without success to find a more central location for the Park – including land at Clare Hall and at the Shay.

On 13th August 1858, after being open for 1 year, the Park was transferred to Halifax Corporation.

Two large cannons captured at the Battle of Sebastopol [1855] in the Crimean War were placed in the Park in 18??. These were sold for scrap in 1947.

In March 1872, shortly after Crossley's death, Halifax Town Council resolved that a granite pillar or slab should be erected in the Park, on which should be recorded the date of its opening, and also the time when the late Sir Francis Crossley presented 6,000 guineas for its endowment.

The Old Men's Parliament which stood in the Park was demolished in the 1960s.

In 1997, the Council received a £1,000,000 grant from the National Lottery, and other sums from English Heritage and Calderdale College, to restore the Park.

The refurbished Park was opened by Mayor Patrick Phillips on 20th September 2002, and Lord and Lady Somerleyton were guests at the ceremony.

The Park is popular with the local Asian community, and the council are attempting to encourage others to use the facility.

The Park and the buildings in Park Road are listed

The Park is a registered charity – Number 523627 – and the Trustees are Calderdale MBC

Conditions of Use

Crossley gave the land for use as a Park forever under the following conditions

  1. That the Park be open to the public during the whole year, Sundays included, from morning until evening

  2. That the hours of opening and closing vary with the season, but that it never ba opened for the public before six o'clock in the morning, nor be kept open after dusk in the evening, but that it be opened as soon after six o'clock in the morning as the sun rises

  3. That it be used only as a promenade

  4. That no games such as cricket, bowls, or hockey, etc be allowed, nor bathing [this condition afterwards altered to give the Corporation power to erect baths]

  5. That bands of music be allowed except on Sundays [under certain regulations] but not dancing

  6. That refreshments be not sold within the Park

  7. That the Corporation spend annually not less than £315 in maintaining the buildings, bridges, statues, trees, shrubs, walks, seats, and in providing an adequate staff of gardeners and keepers

  8. If the Corporation fail to maintain the Park, as specified in rule seven, it shall revert to Frank Crossley, or to his heirs

  9. No buildings shall be erected except such summer houses, lodges, and like structures, as may from time to time be found necessary

  10. The Park shall not be used for any political or other meeting, nor yet for the celebration of the anniversaries of clubs or other societies

  11. No charge shall ever be made for admission to the Park, nor any use made of it for private or municipal pecuniary advantage

  12. That the Corporation make and enforce such regulations as shall protect the trees, walks, etc, from injury

Features of the Park

When you visit People's Park, look out for ...

See Carpet mosaics and Halifax Park & Improvement Act [1858]

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 15:13 / 15th May 2021 / 9447

Page Ref: MMP86

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