AFTER just two years, a green-minded group in Bingley is blooming and has picked up awards and a £50,000 grant towards regenerating a neglected park.

The Friends of Prince of Wales' Park was formed in early 2013 by a handful of local people with the shared aim of restoring the site beside Lady Lane to its former glory

And as the park on the edge of Eldwick marks its 150th anniversary this summer, the number of Friends has risen to more than 100.

At least a dozen volunteers form work parties to carry out improvements every weekend.

Indeed, such is their dedication that local clothing firm Damart donated thermal underwear to them last winter in recognition of their hard work in all weathers.

Later, the group received a Bingley Community Award from Bradford Council for "Special Neighbourhood Impact " and also a prestigious Duke of York Community Initiative Award.

And significantly the Friends' plans earned them a huge £50,000 grant from waste group WREN.

"This follows over 6,000 hours of work inside the park since we began last year and gives us impetus as we approach our 150th anniversary in June 2015," said membership secretary Jeff Nutter.

"All of these mean we are able to accelerate the regeneration of the Prince of Wales Park," Mr Nutter said.

The fledgling Friends of Prince of Wales’ Park was formed in following an article on the 20-acre space by local historian Allan Mirfield, who is now its chairman.

“Basically I wrote a piece on the history of the park and on the back of that I was contacted by two people, Ruth Lehman and Susan Stead and we decided to set up something ourselves,” Mr Mirfield said.

"The plan was to open up all the highways and byways in the park - lots of which had disappeared.

"But we've also discovered lots of other things such as two aqueducts and the old stone 'roundhouse' shelter which was hidden by brambles.

"Numbers have grown and nobody's dropped out of the work parties.

"The whole thing has been a brilliant success and also we've all got fitter and thinner," Mr Mirfield said.

"I've lost about a stone and a half in weight, but it's not all about shovels and pick-axes.

"We've done lots of bulb planting, helped by children from Lady Lane and Eldwick primary schools and we're really looking forward to those coming up in the Spring," he said.

Getting children and families back into the park is one of the key goals and special Snowmen Trails were laid this year which lead to a decorated Christmas tree where youngsters can leave thankyou notes for Santa.

One special project is already scheduled for the coming year, Mr Mirfield said.

"The money will come in this year and one thing to do is restore the well-known water fountain plus lots of other jobs to keep us busy," he said.

Bingley ward councillor David Heseltine is a regular volunteer at the park.

He said: "It's a great example of the community coming together and the team has done a fantastic job in raising money.

"There's a good band of volunteers and I'm proud to be part of it," he said.


THE 1861 Enclosure of Gilstead Moor included the former Brown Hill quarry and moorland with several springs.

Eight acres were set aside for the labouring poor and this sloping terrain was to become The People’s Park.

Further land was added by public subscription, much of which came from ordinary folk putting contributions in tins at their place of work.

It was said that £1,000 would be needed to build the park and there were some generous donations from wealthy mill owners and gentry. The first sod was turned by Mr Ferrand in 1863 and, that very day was the wedding of the then Prince of Wales (to become Edward VII). 

Labouring took place for two more years before the Prince of Wales Park was opened. 

Trees planted included 50 sent by the Prince from Sandringham in 1866. 

In 1869 a trust was set up by the Bingley Improvement Commissioners, having acquired management of the park, the trustees setting out rules for the park, which included a ban on intoxicating liquor, religious or political activity. 

Two notable edifices were installed, the Drinking Fountain from The Total Abstainers of Bingley in 1866, and The John Nicholson Plinth in 1870 to commemorate the late Airedale poet, again, both funded by public subscription. 

In 1888 the 18th century Bingley Market Hall and Stocks were moved to the park from central Bingley to make way for the new Post Office. 

It was returned to Bingley Jubilee Gardens in 1984. 

Old maps show the progressive development of the park through time, from 1893 to 1933, which have been useful in rediscovering hidden features and paths. 

Bingley Urban District Council took responsibility for the park from 1894 to 1974, followed by Bradford Council.