Map sign, Roundhay Park
|Type||Parkland, woodland, gardens|
|Location||Leeds, West Yorkshire, England|
|Area||700 acres (2.8 km2)|
|Operated by||Leeds City Council|
|Status||Open all year|
Roundhay Park in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, is one of the biggest city parks in Europe. It covers more than 700 acres (2.8 km2) of parkland, lakes, woodland and gardens which are owned by Leeds City Council. The park is one of the most popular attractions in Leeds, nearly a million people visit each year. It is situated on the north-east edge of the city, bordered by the suburb of Roundhay to the west, Oakwood to the south and the A6120 outer ring road to the north.
In the 11th century William the Conqueror granted the lands on which the park stands to Ilbert De Lacy for his support in the Harrying of the North in the winter 1069-70. De Lacy, who founded Pontefract Castle, was a knight from Normandy. During the 13th century, the area was used as a hunting park for the De Lacys who were the Lords of Bowland on the Yorkshire-Lancaster border. Ownership of Roundhay passed through succession to John of Gaunt and then to his son, Henry IV. In the 16th century Henry VIII gave the park (though not the manor) to Thomas Darcy. Through succession and marriage, it was acquired by Charles Stourton, XV Baron Stourton (1702-1753) in the 18th century.
In 1803, Charles Stourton's nephew, another Charles Stourton, XVII Baron Stourton (1752-1816), sold the estate to Thomas Nicholson and Samuel Elam. Nicholson took the northern part which became Roundhay Park. Thomas Nicholson's land had the remains of quarries and coal mines. He disguised these former industrial areas by flooding them to the Upper Lake and the Waterloo Lake. The work was spread over 10 years at a cost of £15,000. What became known as the Mansion House was built between 1811 and 1826 with a view over the Upper Lake. Nicholson constructed a castle folly. The Nicholson family was responsible for building the Church of St John, almshouses and a school on the south side of the park.
After Thomas Nicholson's death in 1821, the estate passed to his half-brother Stephen. In 1858, his nephew William Nicholson Nicholson inherited the land on the death of his uncle. In 1871 Roundhay Park was put up for sale. The Mayor of Leeds, John Barran, recommended its acquisition by Leeds as a park. As the council was not permitted to spend more than £40,000 on such large tracts of land, it was purchased for £139,000 by a group including Barran. Leeds City Council subsequently reimbursed them after obtaining an Act of Parliament, though it did not clear the relevant House of Lords committee until 1872.
Leeds architect, George Corson, won the competition for landscaping Roundhay Park. Some parts of the estate were then sold for building plots to offset the cost to the council and Barran. Prince Arthur officially re-opened the park in 1872 in front of 100,000 people. In 1891 the first public electric tram with overhead power (trolley system) in Britain was inaugurated linking Oakwood near to Roundhay Park with Sheepscar for access to the horse and steam trams to Leeds city centre. 3 miles (4.8 km) away. What appears to be a tram terminus was a bus terminus and is now a car park but some resited tram poles remaining.
A record crowd of 80,000 watched a rugby league sevens match between England and Australia in the park in 1933, won 29-11 by Australia. At the south end of Waterloo Lake is a dam, in 1907 an open-air swimming pool was constructed below it, it was known as a lido and was particularly popular in the 1950s but was closed and filled in during the 1980s. The area is now a car park, still signposted 'Lido'.
In June 2005, two teenagers drowned in Waterloo Lake: a memorial stone on the lakeside footpath recalls their memory. In January 2007, the Lakeside Café was extensively damaged by fire. Following complete renovation including a new roof, it has reopened.
Canal Gardens, separated by Street Lane from the main area of the park, contains Tropical World, a series of temperature-controlled glasshouses representing different climates from around the world. It holds the largest collection of tropical plants in the UK after Kew Gardens. The main building, Coronation House, is named from the original 1911 building, the year of the coronation of George V. The present construction was built in 1939 and modernised in 1983, re-opening as Tropical World. In July 2008 it was renamed The Arnold and Marjorie Ziff Tropical World. Arnold Ziff gave £30,000 towards its launch.
Tropical World has a butterfly house and aquariums. Exhibits include birds and some reptiles living free inside, and many other animals in enclosures including a group of meerkats. Its nocturnal house is home to creatures such as bats which are active at night. In 2015 following further refurbishment and alterations an Aztec zone opened in area transformed into an Amazon themed zone occupied by piranhas and salamanders.
There are gardens for blind people with scented plants and braille inscriptions.
Thomas Nicholson had planned to make a third lake in a hollow which is now the Arena, but he died before doing so. In 1894, it was converted into a sports arena with cycle track, providing work for unemployed people in Leeds. It is overlooked by a mound known as Hill 60, which was so named to commemorate Leeds soldiers who died in First World War battles around Hill 60 near Ypres. It can hold over 100,000 people. This was the location of large concerts by The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Simple Minds, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Madonna, Level 42, Genesis, Robbie Williams, U2 & Cast, among others. In the summer, it is used as a cricket pitch.
A folly built in 1811 by local master builder George Nettleton to give the appearance of a castle gate. It originally had a wooden roof and an upper room, and was used as a summerhouse, a sewing room for the Nicholson girls, and for social functions such as dinners.
So called because it was the gathering place for troops in the First World War. Huge playing fields next to the park which have hosted many large-scale annual events such as Leeds Mela, and the Love Parade. Aviation pioneer Robert Blackburn conducted test flights of his aircraft in 1909 and in 1919 established a small airport here, with flights to London and Amsterdam. There is a golf course and tennis courts, as well as the use of Soldiers' Field and the Arena for sports events.
This grade II listeddrinking fountain in the shape of a classical rotunda was presented to the Borough of Leeds by John Barran in 1882. Its water outlets have been removed. Its sculpture was executed by John Wormald Appleyard.
The smaller of the two lakes, featuring fountains, an island and a waterfall that leads down to Waterloo lake via a ravine. It is 5 acres (2.0 ha) in extent, but only 3 to 4 feet (0.91 to 1.22 m) deep. The Upper Lake is on much higher ground than Waterloo Lake. The Lake was once abundant with White-Clawed Crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) but soon started to die out, Crayfish were reintroduced and can now once again be found in the upper lake.
Constructed by soldiers who had returned from the Napoleonic wars and thus named after the Battle of Waterloo. They were unemployed, so Thomas Nicholson provided work and income to landscape a former quarry. It took two years to build, has an average depth of 60 feet (18 m) deep and covers 33 acres (0.13 km2).
It was originally used for boating, and for a period there were trips around it in a steamboat called the Maid of Athens (which was sunk in the lake at the end of its useful life). In 1900 this was replaced by an electric launch, the Mary Gordon, which operated until 1923. A cafe was constructed above the boathouse. The lake is now used for fishing, but not boating. The lower part ends in a dam which included a sluice and waterfall from at least 1893. By 1921, the waterfall fed a bathing pool at the bottom of the dam, but both features have since been removed, and the overflow from the lake is now by a weir at the western end of the dam.
Great Heads Beck flows southward into Waterloo Lake, which it enters at its northern end.
The Mansion House is a large stone two- and three-storey house in Greek Revival style with a view over the Upper Lake, built from 1811 to 1826. It was built for Thomas Nicholson and his wife Elizabeth, who took up residence in 1816. It had three carriage houses and stabling for 17 horses. It was bought by the City of Leeds in 1871, and the sale document noted that the principal rooms on the ground floor were 13 feet high, and on the first floor were 17 bedrooms and 2 water-closets.
It was leased out by the Council as a hotel and restaurant, being a popular place for weddings, receptions and dances until its closure in 2004 for renovation, with a view to conversion into Council offices. This caused some controversy and opposition. In November 2007 the rear wings of the building were opened again after an £8 million refurbishment as an Education and Visitor Centre and offices for park staff. In August 2009 Leeds based Dine catering reopened the cafe and function rooms, after substantial refurbishment.
The park has regularly been used as a concert venue, click show in the table below
|Date||Tours / Event Name||Band||Attendance||Reference|
|25 July 1982||The Rolling Stones European Tour 1982||The Rolling Stones with The J. Geils Band and Joe Jackson supporting||120,000+|||
|29 August 1983||Gary Glitter|||
|7 July 1985||Born in the U.S.A. Tour||Bruce Springsteen||80,000|||
|28 June 1987||Invisible Touch Tour||Genesis with Paul Young supporting|||
|15 August 1987||Who's That Girl World Tour||Madonna with Hue and Cry supporting||73,000|||
|29 August 1988||Bad World Tour||Michael Jackson||90,000|||
|23 July 1989||Street Fighting Years Tour||Simple Minds with All About Eve and Martin Stephenson and the Daintees supporting||80000|||
|31 July 1992||We Can't Dance Tour||Genesis with Lisa Stansfield supporting|||
|16 August 1992||Dangerous World Tour||Michael Jackson||90,000|||
|14 August 1993||Zoo TV Tour||U2 with Marxman and Stereo MCs supporting||120000+|||
|7-10 July 1994||Heineken Music Festival||Various including Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Saw Doctors, The Stranglers, The Wedding Present, Chumbawamba, Kingmaker, Elastica, Back to the Planet, Buzzcocks, Mike + The Mechanics, The Pogues. Oysterband||Heineken Music Festival |
|20-23 July 1995||Heineken Music Festival||Various including Siouxsie and the Banshees, Aswad, Tom Robinson, Squeeze, Michelle Shocked, The Chieftains, Pop Will Eat Itself, John Otway, Pulp, Sleeper, Kirsty MacColl, Bitty McLean, Menswear, Marion, Powder, Salad, Shane MacGowan and The Popes, Aswad, Goats Don't Shave|||
|28 August 1997||PopMart Tour||U2 with Cast supporting|
|8 July 2000||Love Parade||Various including Carl Cox, Danny Rampling, Dave Pearce, David Morales, Sasha, Timo Maas||300,000|||
|8-9 September 2006||Close Encounters Tour||Robbie Williams with Orson and Basement Jaxx supporting||138,000|||
|17 September 2016||On Roundhay||Various including James, Primal Scream, Wolf Alice, Max Jury, The Haggis Horns|||
|16-17 August 2019||÷ Tour||Ed Sheeran with The Darkness and Lewis Capaldi supporting||150,000|||
privately published, but available from Leeds Civic Trust