City park’s history is protected

Pictured L/R: Chris Welch, Brian Else and Ian Deighton of Friends of CHaT  in Thornes Park which has now been given Grade II status'PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE
Pictured L/R: Chris Welch, Brian Else and Ian Deighton of Friends of CHaT in Thornes Park which has now been given Grade II status'PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE

THE city’s Thornes Park, which has been enjoyed by families for centuries, will be preserved for future generations.

Thornes Park has been given Grade II status by English Heritage which has included it in its Register of Parks and Gardens.

It means the 60 hectare site between Horbury Road and Denby Dale Road is recognised as being of “specific historic interest”.

The Wakefield Council-owned area is made up of three parks - Clarence Park, Holmfield Park and Thornes Park, which is known locally as CHaT Parks.

The status was awarded thanks to local community group Friends of CHaT Park.

Group chairman Ian Deighton said: “We are very supportive of the decision to include the park on the National Register.

“It works towards one of the group’s aims which is the preservation of the unique historic, cultural and botanic aspects of the park so that the benefits left to us by past generations can be handed down intact to our children.”

English Heritage said it awarded the park its status to help its survival as “it is a good example of an urban municipal park of the late 19th and early 20th century where the layout survives almost intact”.

It also said its decision was prompted by fears concerning the possible redevelopment of Wakefield College buildings into homes back in 2008.

Although the status will not prevent building work, it means any planning issues have to be run past English Heritage before a decision can be made.

Jon Howard, director of estates for Wakefield College, said public concern had resulted in the college rethinking its decision to allow developers to build homes there.

Students will remain at the Thornes Park site as plans to relocate all learning to their Margaret Street college have been delayed.

Mr Howard said: “We see this grade II status as a good thing and we are happy to work with the friends group to create something which enhances the park.

“We are looking at all options at the moment.”

As well as the college, the park now includes the Holmfield Arms, children’s play area, Sports Centre with running track, miniature railway and a skate park.

The land dates back to 1778, when it was bought by Wakefield cloth merchant James Milnes and Thornes House was designed by John Carr.

In 1920 the Wakefield Corporation acquired the entire Thornes estate, including Holmfield and Clarence, and turned it into a public park.