“Wanted – your memories of Hope Bank Pleasure Grounds”
Family Open Day – Saturday 29th October 1pm-4pm
We have been working with Holme Valley Sharing Memories group to create a range of artworks to support their open day inviting residents from the Holme Valley to share their memories of Hope Bank Pleasure Grounds near Honley.
The event will give people an opportunity to find out more about the history of Hope Bank and bring any objects and stories along that might be of interest. There will also be plenty of activities for younger members of the family including opportunities to dress up, drawing and puppet making.
Sharing Memories staff will be on hand to record anecdotes of interest and local film maker Gopal Dutta will be capturing people’s stories on camera.
The event is part of a project called ‘Pleasure Park Stories’, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Members of Sharing Memories, who are all in their 70s, 80s and 90s, have been uncovering the history of Hope Bank and talking to other groups in the area about their memories of the pleasure grounds.
Hope Bank Pleasure Grounds was the brainchild of John William Mellor, a farmer who bought the land in 1895 and set about transforming what he called a ‘howling wilderness’ into a pleasure park.
By 1906 there was a merry-go-round and a miniature steam train and visitors paid a penny to go in plus extra for the rides.
At its peak, in 1948, the attraction drew crowds of up to 50,000, nearly five times the then population of Honley itself.
In the first two decades of the 20th century it was home to huge dances and brass band contests, some of which were reported to be very acrimonious. Churches and working men’s clubs organised special ‘chara’ trips to the grounds from all over Yorkshire, and trains and trams were used to transport visitors to Hope Bank for their day’s amusement. In winter the grounds opened for skaters to use the frozen ponds.
The pleasure grounds included two boating lakes, ornamental gardens and flower beds, a novel bicycle railway, a zoo, tea rooms, donkey rides, miniature railway, indoor roller skating rink a shooting gallery and many more attractions, including a helter-skelter. Hope Bank finally closed in 1955 and Brook Motors, a factory which made electric motors, was built in its place.
Project Manager, Sally Brown, is keen to gather as many local anecdotes as possible:
“Because Hope Bank Pleasure Grounds was such a significant attraction in the area, of which virtually nothing remains, we want to capture the stories of people who remember visiting either Hope Bank or other pleasure grounds from their youth.
“Our group is based at Hope Bank Works so it seemed fitting to try and record the history of the place before it’s too late – many of the residents who have strong memories of Hope Bank are now in their late 80s and 90s.”
As part of the Open Day stories will be recorded and a short film will be made for next year’s Holmfirth Film Festival. There are also plans to do a performance of some of the memories captured and produce an education pack for local schools.
Sharing Memories uses the arts, memories and life experiences as a spring board for projects with older people, schools and the wider community. For further information about the group’s work go to www.sharingmemories.org.uk or call Sally Brown on 01484 968551