History

Friends of Leyland Park

History

We would like to give massive thanks to Jack and Joan Topping of Hindley

History Society for all their fantastic help sourcing the Historical content

of our site.

Leyland Park is one of the oldest parks in the Wigan Borough, second only to Mesnes Park In Wigan town centre. It was opened on the 21st June 1887 with a great deal of pomp and ceremony on the same day as Hindley library on Market street. The opening was purposefully planned on this date to co-incide with the national celebration of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.

The name derives from the park's generous benefactor John Leyland, who spent the most part of his life in his beloved hometown of Hindley. Part of the grounds actually lie on land belonging to the Grange Estate, Leyland's family home which can still be seen on the parks boundary. the remainder of the park lies on land acquired from the de Trafford family (another prominent Hindley family) who owned the Strangeways Estate. The following extracts from one of John Leyland's personal diaries give an insight into the deal:

 

Page 695 - 25th May 1874. Went to Croston with the purpose of asking Mr de Trafford if he would sell a portion of the Strangeways Estate in Hindley which I wish to purchase andpresent to the people of Hindley for a park or recreation ground. the portion of the estate wanted lies between the south boundary of the Grange estate and the occupation leading to the Lowe Hall and is 14 statute acres in extent.

Page 696 - 20th June 1874. Mr de Trafford is willing to sell the land and i have arranged for the purchase of it, subject however to the Strangeways Hall Coal Comapny and Messrs Paerson & Knowles surrendering certain surface priveleges they posess by virtue of their coal leases.

Page 721 - 14th August 1875. Completed at Preston purchase of land from Mr Randophus de Trafford which i intend giving to teh public as a park

When John Leyland died in 1883, he made his lifelong friend Nathaniel Eckersley the heir to his property. Who at the opening ceremony gave reference to his friend: "It was a long cherished wish of our late friend to make this spot into a public park..... Mr Leyland did not live to realise his wishes: he left me heir to his property and I also inherited his desire to provide for you these public recreation grounds.

 

To the right you can see an original layout of the park's grounds and although it has much changed during it's existence, you can still make out some of the path way divisions which exist today.

 

In the bottom right of the image you may just be able to make out the Lodge, known by many as the gate house, which stood by the main gate. and although the Lodge has long since been demolished the position still marks the main entrance into the grounds.

 

Over the years the park has seen massive changes. It always gained great affection and credit for being a calm, green space and an oasis of colour amidst an otherwise industrial, coal mining landscape. The article below from the 23rd July 1952 shows off some of the parks former beauty and 'uniqueness' in having semi-tropical plants within it's grounds.

 

Amongst some of the side bar images it is possible to make out the amount of foliage, greenery and colour once synonomous with Leyland Park

 

You may wonder why we felt it necessary to include a history page into our website as we are trying to make future improvements. Well, It is important to remember how the park came into being and that it belongs to the people of Hindley. We need to take ownership of our local spaces. We need to respect and improve them wherever we possibly can. It is also important to remember the park's former glory as something to aspire to, which brings us up to present day.

 

The park is currently owned and managed by Wigan Council . After years of reduced funding to our borough's open spaces, Leyland Park was starting to look a little 'tired'.

 

In 2008, local Councillor Jim Churton, and Peter Harmer discussed the possibility of setting up a Friends group for Leyland Park, and subsequently the group was born, attracting a number of willing volunteers and another Councillor, Jim Talbot into it's ranks.

 

Now we have a friends group intent on bringing some former glory back to the park and perhaps more importantly, rebuilding the sense of community.

 

And for the future...Let's see if we can make a real difference!!!