May 14, 2012

106TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE OPENING OF THE BOWLING GREENS

Filed under: Bowling Greens — Bill @ 10:30 pm

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The first of the bowling greens was opened a hundred and six years ago today. Below is a Yorkshire Evening Post drawing showing the entrance to the new bowling green as it appeared at the time of the opening in 1906:

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And here is a photograph showing the same entrance as it appears today. Not very much has changed.

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Accounts of the opening appeared in all the local papers. Here is the account that appeared in the Yorkshire Daily Observer on the 15th May 1906.

A LEEDS NEW MUNICIPAL BOWLING GREEN

The new municipal bowling green on Woodhouse Moor, Leeds, was opened last night by the Lord Mayor (Mr. E. Woodhouse), who was accompanied by Miss Woodhouse. The green, which is situated between the fountain and Moorland Road, is about 40 yds. square, and is surrounded by rustic railings and by shrubs. A rustic pavilion has been erected, and the whole has a very pleasing effect. The work of laying the green out was commenced in 1904, and provided occupation for fifty or sixty men for a considerable time. The charge to each player for using the green will be a penny an hour.

Mr H. B. James, (chairman of the Property Committee), presided at the opening ceremony, and said that they had there a bowling green which they believed to be the best in Leeds. The chairman caused some amusement by mentioning that it was the body known as the “Woodhouse Parliament” that had pressed the Corporation to lay out the green, which had been the means of providing work for a number of the unemployed at a time of great need.

The Lord Mayor, in performing the opening ceremony, mentioned that he was an old bowler himself. He referred to the fame of Yorkshire as a bowling county, and said he hoped the residents of the district would appreciate the green and use it. A vote of thanks was passed to the Lord Mayor, on the proposition of Alderman Hepton, seconded by Mr. W. Marston, and the chairman was also accorded a vote of thanks. Subsequently an exhibition game was played on the green by teams composed of well-known local bowlers.

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After the opening, the band of the Leeds Engineers played selections of music.

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February 12, 2012

THERE IS ONLY ONE WOODHOUSE MOOR

Filed under: General — Bill @ 7:39 pm

Letter sent today to the Yorkshire Evening Post:

Some people mistakenly refer to Woodhouse Moor as Hyde Park. This is very common amongst newcomers to the city who are unfamiliar with the area. Even the Yorkshire Evening Post in a recent article twice referred to the Moor as Hyde Park (“Park Life Runner ‘snaps’ views” – YEP 9.2.12). When mistakes like this appear in print, it encourages others to call the park “Hyde Park.” It legitimises a practice which, left unchecked, could ultimately lead to the loss of the name Woodhouse Moor, a name which evokes history and adds to the park’s character.

The name “Woodhouse Moor” dates back hundreds of years. The first part of the name is “Woodhouse” because the Moor was situated in the administrative area called Woodhouse which in former times included all of Hyde Park, North Hyde Park, Woodhouse, Little Woodhouse and Little London, i.e. all the land between the city centre and Headingley. The second part of the name is “Moor” because in those days Woodhouse Moor was a real moor covered in gorse. Like the other Leeds moors, it was common land, which meant that local people could use it for grazing their animals.

The name “Hyde Park” refers to the residential area to the north of Woodhouse Moor. One story is that the name originated in the early 1800s when a local farmer re-named his farm “Hyde Park Corner” to commemorate a visit he’d made to London. Another is that it dates from 1865 when the parish of St Augustine at Wrangthorn was formed. It’s said that following a walk along the new parish boundary, a parishioner remarked that the area looked just like Hyde Park in London, and the name stuck.

Over the years, local residents have successfully resisted numerous attempts to encroach on the Moor, and on each occasion, received invaluable assistance in the form of coverage in the Yorkshire Evening Post. Now we need the paper’s help again. By referring to the park only as Woodhouse Moor, the paper can ensure the continued use of that historic name, and prevent the disconnection of the park from its past. It would be a real shame if, after so many hundreds of years as Woodhouse Moor, the park were to be re-named now as a result of the carelessness of this generation. Whilst many cities have parks called Hyde Park, there is only one Woodhouse Moor.

November 30, 2011

PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS MEET ON MONUMENT MOOR TO PROTEST ABOUT CHANGES TO THEIR PENSIONS

Filed under: Rallies — Bill @ 7:06 pm

There have been political gatherings on Woodhouse Moor for at least two hundred years. The latest was a rally of public sector workers which took place there this morning. The workers were on the Moor to protest about changes the government has made to their pensions.

November 22, 2011

WHEN DARKNESS FALLS

Filed under: Lighting — Bill @ 10:38 pm

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Leeds Student newspaper recently published an article about an attack on a student who was crossing Woodhouse Moor in the dark. As a result of this article, Councillor Gerry Harper invited representatives from Leeds Student newspaper to attend a meeting to discuss the paper’s concerns about this attack and other recent attacks in the ward. The meeting was held earlier this evening at Leeds Civic Hall. It was attended by community representatives and was addressed by Inspector Ian O’Brien from West Yorkshire Police. Inspector O’Brien said that there are always a spate of attacks in this ward in the period around Bonfire Night and that there have been no more attacks this year than in previous years. However, as a result of the disquiet following the newspaper’s reports of the attacks, Inspector O’Brien said the police have allocated twice the normal level of police to robbery and burglary duties in this area. These extra police have been diverted from other areas. Four people have already been arrested who may be connected with the attacks. They are not local people. They come from Leeds 7. Inspector O’Brien said he believes those involved in the attack on Woodhouse Moor numbered only three or four individuals, although they were part of a larger group. He believes the other members of the group backed off when they saw what was being done to the student. He said he believes that the attackers were hooded, and not masked as reported by Leeds Student newspaper. The inspector said that Leeds Student newspaper would like to see (1) lighting on the paths on the Moor, and (2) two policemen to patrol the park all night from 5pm to 7am. The inspector said that the view of the police is that lighting the paths on the Moor would lead to an increase in the number of attacks that take place on the Moor. He said the increase would happen because lighting would attract extra foot traffic at night across the park, and would make those crossing the park more visible to would-be attackers. He said that his advice is for people to walk around the park at night, and not across it.

Ben Fisher from the student union executive said he also believes that lighting would encourage more people to cross the Moor at night, in the false belief that lighting makes it safe. Ben added that the lighting would make it easier for people crossing the Moor to be targeted and attacked.

No representative from Leeds Student newspaper attended the meeting.

Later this evening, at the Hyde Park and Woodhouse Forum, Parks and Countryside’s operations manager Kris Nenadic spoke about the problems involved with any scheme to light the Moor. He said that to be effective the lighting would have to cover the entire park and not just the paths. He added that they’re no longer able to suspend electric cable because of cable thefts, and so they’d have to lay the cable in trenches, and with all of the paths being tree-lined, this would cause substantial damage to the roots of half the trees on the park. He said they’d also have to cut back the branches of the trees to enable the lights to shine on the paths, and to enable CCTV to have access to the paths. He added that CCTV would be ineffective against hooded attackers as the hoods would prevent the attackers being identified. Mr Nenadic said that Parks and Countryside believe that lighting would lead to an increase in the number of attacks for the reasons already given.

Councillor Harper said it was important for everyone to take responsibility for their own safety and to avoid the park after dark. He said it only takes a few minutes extra to walk around the park and that this is what people should do in order to stay safe. He added that he would never dream of crossing the park after dark.

Councillor Akhtar agreed with Councillor Harper about the need to avoid the park after dark.

September 28, 2011

INDIAN SUMMER

Filed under: General — Bill @ 2:44 pm

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The Moor was looking really beautiful this afternoon, on what felt like the hottest day of the year so far.

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The flower beds next to the Victoria Memorialzxcvbn

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Students enjoying the sunshinezxcvbnmb

July 19, 2011

OUR THANKS TO PREMIER FARNELL FOR HELPING ON THE MOOR

Filed under: General — Bill @ 6:33 pm

Public spirited people from the company Premier Farnell cleaning and varnishing benches this afternoon in the area around the bowling greens.

They explained to me that their company allows them a day off every three months to do community work. Today it was our good fortune to have their help on the Moor. All the time I was there, they were working really hard scouring the benches with wire brushes and then varnishing them. While most of the staff were doing that, two ladies from the company were busy weeding a flower bed and tilling the soil.

Steve Clavering from Parks and Countryside coordinated everyone and supplied materials.

WOODHOUSE MOOR THIS AFTERNOON

Filed under: General — Bill @ 6:04 pm

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Hats off to Parks and Countryside for the hard work they do making the Moor look so good.

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June 20, 2011

JOHN EGAN’S PRESENTATION

Filed under: General — Bill @ 6:41 pm

Leader of the the Council Keith Wakefield presents Woodhouse Moor’s head gardener John Egan with a framed photograph in recognition of his hard work over many years caring for Woodhouse Moor and helping to keep it the best looking park in the city. On the left of the photograph is the Council’s Chief Executive Tom Riordan, and on the right, Sue Buckle from Friends of Woodhouse Moor.

June 8, 2011

JOHN EGAN RETIRES

Filed under: General — Bill @ 6:52 pm

Photo courtesy of Yorkshire Post Newspapers

John Egan retired today after 40 years with Parks and Countryside. This major event was covered in today’s Yorkshire Evening Post.

March 3, 2011

DEPUTATION TO INWAC 24.2.11

Filed under: Byelaws,LCC — Bill @ 8:39 pm

At this evening’s meeting of INWAC at St Chad’s Parish Centre, Sue Buckle made the following plea for funding for park wardens for Woodhouse Moor:

Byelaws and barbeques on Woodhouse Moor – an issue on which much has been said! However, I ask you, please, to listen without preconceptions as it’s an issue many people care about, passionately.

Byelaws exist so that everyone can enjoy parks safely, and leave a park green, unspoiled, and undamaged for the next people who come along, whether minutes, hours, days, or even months later.

Local authorities have a duty to enforce these byelaws.

In recent years, we’ve had problems on Woodhouse Moor, since the increased popularity of disposable barbeques. Although enjoying cooked food in fresh air doesn’t sound like a problem, unfortunately a “Barbeque Culture” can go with it which can lead to excessive alcohol consumption, with smashed bottles in the grass, leftover food to attract rats (and endanger dogs, in the case of chicken bones), with lasting damage to the environment. Smoke pollution can also be a problem to local residents, especially on sunny days.

As the most intensively used park in Leeds, serving an area with some of the highest population density in Leeds (and, indeed, the country) Woodhouse Moor has suffered along with all the people using it, whether walking across it to work or study, spending time there with children or dog, walking, running or just enjoying the peace and quiet of the green surroundings.

In 2009, when asked for park wardens to be provided, Councillor Procter said that if Parks and Countryside funded them, it would set a precedent for all Leeds parks.

So in February last year, INWAC voted £25,085 for two wardens to patrol Woodhouse Moor from April 1st to 30th September (This was part of the “designated barbeque area” proposal which was subsequently halted).

The result was wonderful! The system worked! Woodhouse Moor was a green park for everyone to enjoy – and so many people commented, over the Summer and since, how it was such a pleasure to see the park looking so beautiful.

It must be said that big thanks are especially due to Riz, who was on duty with the buggy for most of the Summer, and Kevin Barker, now retired, who did so much to make the scheme a success.

In June 2010, a report to the Executive Board said,

“The presence of Parks Watch officers is proving successful in preventing barbecue activity at Woodhouse Moor and enforcing the byelaws. If funding is sustained, then it is felt that enforcement activity could be a viable long term solution to address issues associated with barbecue use.”

That £25,085 actually saved money – as the previous year over £100,000 was spent on call-outs to the fire service to deal with fires on the Moor, which invariably had started as barbeques, and less was spent on litter picking as extra Parks and Countryside staff were not called away from gardening duties to pick up litter (There were also less injuries to Parks staff, previously caused when they had to clear up the remains of barbeques, such as hot metal trays, sharp skewers and grilles).

We are asking INWAC – please could you vote £25,085 to cover the cost of wardens again this year – and for the next two years.

Woodhouse Moor is special. It’s a big part of people’s lives. Walking in the park in the morning can lift the spirits, especially when the sun shines through the trees on the grass, and as now, on the spring flowers. If it’s a mess, it can really bring people down, even upset them.

Our park is a place which people can retreat to, away from the streets of terraced houses, or just to escape the pressure of life. It’s especially beautiful now – and thanks must go to our local MBE, John Egan, who’s up there before 7.30 every morning keeping it that way.

Sometimes an issue comes up which transcends party politics. The Royal Park School Building is one. It was so great at the January Executive Board seeing all the political parties voting together to give the community a chance of getting Royal Park.

Please let this be another of those times. Please vote now to allocate funding for park wardens to enforce the byelaws on Woodhouse Moor from April 1st to September 30th, because although it might seem extravagant to compare keeping Woodhouse Moor green to saving the planet, if you do allocate the funding, it will feel to the people of Hyde Park as if you’re doing just that!

Sue’s speech received thunderous applause from the audience, and a warm and positive response from councillors, who said that they would be in a position to vote funds once they have met on the 9th March to decide their funding priorities. The 9th March meeting will be followed shortly afterwards by a special meeting of INWAC at which votes on funding will be made.

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