Roundhay Park

Roundhay Park

In the 13th century Roundhay was a hunting park for the DeLacy family of Pontefract Castle.

In 1872, John Barran the Lord Mayor of Leeds bought the 3mile square (1920 acre) estate for the city. Barran was ridiculed for buying the estate and it was subsequently called a ‘White Elephant’. His critics said that the park was too far out of the city for the majority of the population to enjoy, and inaccessible because it had just one access road – an old ‘turnpike’ road dating from 1808.

The park was opened to the public by His Royal Highness Prince Arthur on the 19th of September 1872.

The park was seen as a reckless waste of Leeds ratepayer’s money – critics even published a booklet under the title: ‘The Big White Elephant’ in 1879.

In June 1907 an open air swimming pool ‘lido’ opened, at a cost of just over £1,600, it was built mainly by unemployed citizens.

During the 1950’s and 1960’s about 100,000 people a year visited the ‘swimming baths’ located near the edge of the lake.

The park covers over 700 acres of parkland, lakes and woodland, and includes scented gardens for the blind, National Plant Collections, Canal Gardens, the Monet and Alhambra Gardens, plus Tropical World (also known as Butterfly Gardens and Butterfly World) which attracts visitors all year round.

In 2005 the Friends Garden, located beside Canal Gardens and the Rainbow Garden was added. The park is a habitat for woodpeckers, common warblers in spring and summer, mute swans, visiting whooper swans, great-crested grebes and herons.

The Upper Lake is maintained as a wildlife sanctuary, and the larger Waterloo Lake is used for fishing.

The Park Arena is a natural amphitheatre and an incredible venue for many special events like festivals, sports days, major pop concerts and the annual spectacular bonfire cum firework displays on 5th November.

Facilities at the Park also include tennis courts, skateboard ramps, sports pitches, bowling greens, a sports arena, a golf course, and fishing. A lakeside cafe overlooks Waterloo Lake.

Roundhay Park is one of the largest parks in Europe and is thoroughly enjoyed by all the people of the city.