The 'green jewel' of South Leeds, extending to over 300 acres (128 hectares), Middleton Park is Wade’s largest land holding. It is a mixture of traditional parkland and ancient woodland, with fascinating remains of early coal mining and transport links. A very active Friends Group runs an extensive events programme through the year – including brass band concerts and outdoor theatre, guided walks and children’s craft and nature activities, together with an annual produce show.
The Park has undergone a significant amount of change and development in recent years, brought about by a close working relationship between Leeds City Council, the Friends of Middleton Park (FOMP) and Wade’s Charity. With a £2m investment by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Park now has a new visitor centre, bandstand and better paths, benches and interpretation of its natural and historic features.
Further change is planned. The municipal golf course closed at the end of 2014, and the City Council, together with FOMP and Wade’s are working together on plans to integrate and develop this area within the Park.
The first project completed is a new seating area and viewpoint, looking out over the historic parkland and former golf course. ‘Nick’s View’ has been built to form a focal point for one end of a new vista looking down towards the visitor centre and café, to encourage visitors to explore and enjoy this new area of open space.
The viewpoint, seating area and walnut trees are dedicated in memory of Nick Rose, former Chair of the Friends of Middleton Park and Wade’s Charity Trustee.
The Friends of Middleton Park were involved in the concept and design of the new seating area and pupils from Middleton St Mary’s school helped with the planting.
The project was jointly funded by Wade’s and Cobbett Environmental, a charity that funds projects focused on environmental improvements supporting a local community. It does this as part of the Landfill Communities Fund, which is a tax credit scheme enabling the development of a wide range of projects in the vicinity of landfill sites.
For more on the Park see:
Gott’s Park & Golf Course
Gott’s Park on Armley Ridge Road sits in a prominent position above the Aire Valley, with views along Kirkstall Vale to the Abbey and in the other direction to Leeds City Centre.
The Park takes its name from Benjamin Gott, the wealthy Leeds merchant, woollen manufacturer and civic leader. He bought Armley House and its parkland at the turn of 19th century. From here Benjamin Gott could look down on one of his factories – Armley Mills, now Leeds Industrial Museum.
Benjamin Gott employed the eminent landscape designer, Humphry Repton, to advise him on enhancing the park and house. The remodelling of the house in the fashionable Greek Revival style (the first use of this style in West Yorkshire) was completed around 1820 under the guidance of architect Sir Robert Smirke.
Armley House and its park were acquired by Wade’s Charity in January 1928, and leased to Leeds Corporation opening as a public park in July 1928.
In the early 1930s a municipal golf course was constructed in the Park, providing work for unemployed people in the locality.
In April 2015, members of Gotts Park Golf Club formed a Community Interest Company to take over running the course, following Leeds City Council’s decision to close it as a municipal course.
Armley House, a grade 2 listed building, is partially occupied by the Golf Clubhouse. Wade’s Charity Trustees have concerns about the condition of this important historic building, and is encouraging its tenants, Leeds City Council, to find a long term sustainable future for a fully restored house.
Public footpaths and newly established trails linking Gotts Park with Armley Park and the Industrial Museum at Armley Mills allow the public to enjoy the steeply wooded banks, down to the Leeds Liverpool Canal and a perimeter walk around the Park, with splendid views in all directions.
There have been exciting developments at Gotts & neighbouring Armley Park over the last two years.
In Autumn 2016, a group of local people came together to form a Friends Group, focused particularly on making the Parks a more attractive and safe place for children and families.
The Friends of Armley Park & Gotts Park's vision is to:
‘Make Armley Park and Gotts Park a more fun, interesting, playful, amenable, safe, active, inspiring, creative and community space for the people of Armley and surrounding areas.’
Find out more about their activities on the Friends’ Facebook page.
Wade’s Charity is working in partnership with Leeds City Council (LCC) Parks & Countryside Service, Gotts Park Golf Course Community Interest Company, and the Friends Group to:
- encourage more use of the Parks by local people for a range of healthy outdoor recreation activities
- develop interest and appreciation of the social and natural history of the area
- engage local people in caring for and improving the Parks
- enhance the Park environment and make it more attractive for all users.
Wade’s Charity is providing funding in partnership with the Council’s Parks & Countryside Service to bring a part-time Ranger to Gotts Park. Using Gott’s Park Mansion as her base, Claire Rogers is working with the Friends Group and Golf Club to run a range of events and practical volunteering activities in the two Parks. See the Wade’s Ranger Facebook page for more information.
In 2016/17 volunteers from the Golf Club gave the ground floor of the Mansion a facelift to make it more welcoming for all visitors to the Park.
With financial support from Cobbett Environmental and the City Council’s Wellbeing Fund, ugly partitions have been removed to open-up the entrance hall and create a more welcoming reception, refreshments, visitor information and events space. The public toilets have also been refurbished and a disabled toilet installed.
Cobbett Environmental is a charity that funds projects focused on environmental improvements supporting a local community. It does this as part of the Landfill Communities Fund, which is a tax credit scheme enabling the development of a wide range of projects in the vicinity of landfill sites.
Cobbett Environmental has given a second grant for projects in Gotts Park to create a community orchard, growing and events space in the former Rose Garden, improve footpaths and reinstall historic railings at Gotts Park Mansion terrace.
Leeds Beckett University, Headingley Campus looks out over this Park, which is well used by students and local residents. Beckett Park takes its name from the Beckett family prominent in banking and politics in 19th century Leeds. The family purchased Kirkstall Grange House, now occupied by Leeds Beckett University and adjoining parkland in 1834.
Wade’s Charity acquired the land in 1909 and leased it to the City Council to create a public park in 1911. Today the Park has tennis courts, a children’s play area, skateboard park, recently installed outdoor adult exercise equipment, and a cyclepath/footpath through the Park from Queenswood Road to Batcliffe Drive.
A newly formed community group, The Friends of Beckett Park, is working with Leeds City Council and Wade’s to plan new projects for the Park.
At Kirkstall, Wade’s land includes the Vesper Gate playing fields, together with the land on which the Kirkstall Abbey Park visitor car park and children’s play area are located.