Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the meeting at 1030 a.m. and advised of four apologies. He extended a warm welcome to new member Vic Welborn and guest/prospective new member Rob Allison. The audience was then treated to two short but entertaining recollections about, first the actor Warren Mitchell, and secondly a follow-up from last week relating to Sir Robin Day.
We are indebted to our Speaker Mr Terry Michael Williams, who for a second time, has come to our rescue as a replacement Speaker with today’s offering being “A Pictorial History of New Park”.
A teacher by profession he commenced by advising how a pupil enquiry set him on the road to researching New Park history. This eventually led to him becoming responsible for New Park Heritage Centre covering 157 years of history in that area of Harrogate.
New Park’s origins began in 1500’s Harrogate with the discovery of spa spring wells—Tewit Well being the first discovered. Subsequent wells were found which led to the formation of the two villages in High Harrogate and Low Harrogate and the advent of tourism.
In the 1840’s the Harrogate Improvement Committee decided to have a Gas Company established at Rattle Crag linking the two villages and July 4th 1845 saw the birth of the area of New Park with its growth from the Little Wonder Coaching Inn and Knox stimulated by said Gas Company. We saw how the Little Wonder Inn was, over the years, extended in three stages. Terry advised that the boundaries of New Park were essentially Yewdale Avenue (West), Eastville Terrace (North), Knox Avenue (East) and Jennyfield Drive (South). With the establishment of the gas works coal was brought by steam traction locomotives from Starbeck and the community which developed in a dirty industrial area was both hardworking and community minded with a sense of social togetherness. In 1882 the Electric Works were built on the site which is now a gym (formerly the Academy).
The first three streets built in New Park were Park Row, Park Street and Prospect Terrace. The growing community needed a school and New Park School opened in 1897 with 75 children ranging from 5 years to 14 years. As the community continued expanding the school was extended in 1910/11.
In 1907 the Gas Company installed a narrow gauge railway, having observed the one operating in Masham, which was built to reduce road wear and tear and would be cheaper to run.
The talk was illustrated with many socially poignant photographs that reinforced the industrial heritage of this part of Harrogate and the morning was informative and entertaining. Sadly the hour soon passed with still a considerable piece of this story to be told and questions and comments from members reinforced the view that a further return visit would be appreciated to conclude the New Park history.
The Vote of Thanks on behalf of the forty-one attendees was given by Neil Ramshaw.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY