Nature Cure – Bradford Parks and Woodland

Another lockdown may loom but the Bradford District is blessed with some beautiful countryside, moorland walks and has parks and woodlands to stroll and commune with the natural world. Take a look at this excellent site listing all the grounds available in our area. https://bradforddistrictparks.org/parks/

Each has its own history and development, click on the links provided to find out more about your own local area. There are photographs, useful location maps and information about new environmental policies and change as well as funding bids. Did you know that 6 of our parks have green flag awards and that 10 are listed on English Heritage’s Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England including: Bowling Park, Lister Park, Peel Park and Horton Park?

The need for public parks began in the nineteenth century and the park movement was inspired by the need to get people taking ‘rational recreation’. Many people worked long hours in the mills in Bradford and the Temperance movement was keen to advance the healthy living option of fresh air and exercise as opposed to the pub.  With all the hours that people worked, there was little time for travelling to the most fun areas regionally or to the seaside so the development of local parks was a benefit to all. Birkenhead Park in Merseyside is generally thought to be the first publicly funded civic park. It was opened in April 1847 and was designed by Joseph Paxton of Crystal Palace fame. The following gives a short history of the public park:

https://historicengland.org.uk/whats-new/debate/recent/public-parks/the-victorian-legacy/

The history of private and public gardens has also influenced plants and garden design in public parks and vice versa. The following links can help you to  trace influential developments and follow the plant hunters as they discovered plants such as the fern and find out about the origins of flowers and shrubs such as the rose and the rhododendron and new species. Don’t forget that Bradford’s own Lister Park has its own botanical garden as well as the Mughal garden and that Cliffe Castle in Keighley has just undergone restoration of its formal and ornamental gardens and glasshouses and has an aviary as well as parkland.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/gardens-through-the-ages

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/learn/histories/gardens-through-time/

https://www.kew.org/read-and-watch/adventure-and-discovery-around-the-world-with-plant-hunters

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-42239463

If you want to know more about current plant science and current studies, Kew also has online films and reports. https://www.kew.org/read-and-watch and the Natural History museum site will help you to trace the natural history of the garden in their “try at home” sections: https://www.nhm.ac.uk/our-science.html

Gina Birdsall, Keighley Local Studies

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