Origins of our great Scott Park

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IN this column I have made many references to Burnley's fine public parks. Few towns the size of Burnley are fortunate enough to have as many as four Green Flag parks.

The Green Flag is the industry standard by which good public parks are recognised. This is not only for floral arrangements, woodland plantings and other features (Italian garden at Thompson Park or the sensory garden at Queens Park), but for what other services are provided in our parks.

The privately-run miniature railway and the boating lake in Thompson Park, the teenzone and the annual community festival in Queens Park and the services provided by our enthusiastic and knowledgeable park rangers across all our parks – all contribute to the service provided.

It is clear the people of Burnley are very appreciative of the borough's parks' service. "Satisfaction rates" are high – the highest in this part of the world – but this does not mean we should not strive for improvements in the future.

Memorial Park, Padiham, is to be the subject of a Heritage Lottery bid for substantial improvements, Ightenhill Park is gradually being brought up to Green Flag standard and, in the next month or so, expect to see a new bandstand at Queens Park to replace the one that was burnt down by vandals a few years ago.

The park I want to concentrate on today is Scott Park. It is Burnley's second oldest park, opening as you can see on August 8th, 1895. Scott Park is named after Alderman John Hargreaves Scott, who was a watchmaker with premises at 18 Manchester Road, although he lived in retirement at Oakbank, on what is now Todmorden Road.

It is not often appreciated that Mr Scott was a member of the family of James Hargreaves, the inventor of the Spinning Jenny. James is often associated with Blackburn, but in actual fact, he came from Stanhill, near Oswald-twistle, and it was there that he produced the Spinning Jenny in 1766.

James had little to thank Blackburn for because the manufacturers there virtually stole the invention from him and, to add insult to injury, the town's spinners demonstrated their disapproval of the new machine by organising violent protests against its introduction.

A later James Hargreaves, probably the son or the nephew of the inventor, returned to Blackburn, where he ran a successful but short-lived textile engineering firm in the latter years of the 18th Century. After this the Hargreaves' family moved to other towns and John Hargreaves Scott found himself in Burnley, where he ran his watchmaking business for many years before, on retirement, he sold it to David Dickinson.

However, today John, who died in 1881, is remembered for the park which is named after him. In his will, John appointed trustees charged with the task of securing a project that would benefit the people of Burnley, but it was not until 1892 that Burnley Corporation acquired the Hood House Estate and the trustees agreed that the creation of a public park there would conform to John's wishes.

The property was situated off what is now Manchester Road and, essentially, it consisted of the large Hood House, other buildings and the property around them amounting to 18 acres.There were already gardens and woodland, some of which was retained when the park was constructed.

In fact, the park occupies an almost ideal site – on sloping ground with its own stream – in what was then a developing part of the town. It is not surprising that some of Burnley's very best Victorian and Edwardian residential areas are in this vicinity.

The Briercliffe Society collection contains many postcards of Scott Park. Two of them were posted in 1908. The first is signed "H.A." and was sent to a Mr Redshaw in Sheffield. The message includes: "This is one of the parks at Burnley, a very pretty park".

The other card, from someone called Cissie, reads: "Dear Molly, I write these few lines to you to say I went through this park on Tuesday. It is a beautiful park in summer".

The card I have chosen to print is much later and it is interesting not only because it shows a fine view of Scott Park, but also because, although there is a 2d stamp with a portrait of George VI, the stamp has franked over it, in capitals, the words "THE QUEEN". I cannot read the actual date, but the year is clear enough, 1953.

Scott Park is a very good example of a local park. It serves the community of the area in which it is situated, as do most parks. Confirmation of this can be made by looking at the card. Someone is sitting on the bench under the tree, extreme right, a young family with pram can be seen, centre left, and extreme left, it looks as if grandma is taking her young charges for a walk.

This, together with the provision of sports' facilities for young and old, is what parks are about and Scott Park has been doing this for 112 years.

The postcard is published by permission of the Briercliffe Society.