Peel Park, Bradford

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Peel Park
View of a path in Peel Park near the Bolton Road entrance
Footpath near Bolton Road entrance
Type Urban park
Location Undercliffe, Bradford, West Yorkshire
Coordinates 53°48′32″N 1°44′31″W / 53.809°N 1.742°W / 53.809; -1.742Coordinates: 53°48′32″N 1°44′31″W / 53.809°N 1.742°W / 53.809; -1.742
Area 22.6 ha (56 acres)
Created 1853 (1853)
Operated by City of Bradford, Parks and Landscape Services
Status open all year round

Peel Park is a 22.6-hectare (56-acre) urban public park in the Bolton and Undercliffe area of Bradford, England, located about 0.75 miles (1.2 km) north-east of the city centre, and named after Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850). Peel Park was Bradford's first public park[1][2] and is on the English Heritage and National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens online databases. The park is a Green Flag Award winner and has been for a number of years.[3]


A public meeting took place in St George's Hall, Bradford on 13 August 1850 to discuss the creation of a park as a memorial to Sir Robert Peel who had died that year.[4] Together with a government donation of £1,500, funding was raised from Sir Robert Milligan, Sir Titus Salt, Forbes and Company and by numerous other private subscriptions to purchase 26 ha (64 acres) of land that was subsequently named Peel Park Estate, and some 22.6 ha (56 acres) of this land was developed as Peel Park.[1][2][4] The park was opened in 1853[1] and a series of galas were held in the park to raise funds to pay off the remaining debt for the purchase of the land and its layout as a park—this took some 12 years.[4] In 1870 the park was conveyed to the Municipal Borough of Bradford,[2] and is now owned by the City of Bradford. Money was then raised for local hospitals by the galas until 1936 when the last gala was held.[4]

Bradford Centenary Memorial

In the 1900s the park lake had a large ornamental fountain and a footbridge crossing the lake.[2] Slightly higher and to the east of the lake, separated by low cascade was a second smaller lake remodelled from a fish pond.[2] To the north east of the lake was a fossilised tree and to the north west of the lake a conservatory—but all these have gone.[2]

In 1902 a ornamental bandstand was erected midway along The Terrace but today this location is occupied by the statue of Sir Robert Peel.[2] Another lost feature is the two cannons captured by the British in the Crimean War.[3] The park had a total of four drinking fountains but two have been lost.[3] The park had its own plant nursery south of the north western entrance at Bolton Road with computer controlled greenhouses but this property was sold off for commercial use reducing the park's 22.6 ha. In 1997 Bradford City's centenary year, 100 trees were planted in the park and this is commemorated by a stone plaque on a boulder near the southern entrance.[2]


Entrances and lodges[edit]

The southern Cliffe Road entrance has ornate gates and a lodge* (1861)[5] but larger and more impressive are the main gates and lodge* (1862) at the northern Bolton Road entrance.[6] There are two grade II listed two-storey Italianate lodges, one at the park gates on Bolton Road and a smaller lodge to a similar design at the Cliffe Road entrance.[3]

The Terrace[edit]

The main linear path through the park is The Terrace extending east west on which can be found a number of statues.[7] One such is a statue of Sir Robert Peel* dressed in a mid 19th century frock coat and mounted on a cylindrical ashlar sandstone plinth.[2][7][8]

The Peel statue was the first public statue erected in Bradford and was originally located in what was Peel Square on Leeds Road, but re-erected post 1926 in Peel Park after Kassapian's Warehouse on Leeds Road was demolished.[2][7] The sculptor was W. Behnes and the statue was cast in lead by the Robinson Scott Company of Pimlico.[3][8] To the west of the Peel statue is a life-size statue of a Roman matron representing Autumn* (1869) and to the east a statue of Roman matron representing Spring* (1877) both given by the Bradford Band of Hope Union.[2][9] All three statues are grade II listed.[3] At the western end of The Terrace is the Viewing Platform (1853-93) giving views over the Bradford valley and Manningham. The platform was largely rebuilt in 1990 due to its poor condition.[3] A cast iron bridge (1857) takes the eastern end of The Terrace over the carriage drive.[2] The cast iron bridge beams are embossed with the words "RAILWAY-FOUNDRY. BRADFORD. 1857."

Drinking fountains[edit]

At the eastern end of the park on East Drive is a drinking fountain* erected in the town in 1861 by the Bradford Band of Hope Union and later moved to Peel Park as a result of road improvements.[2][10] Uphill from the drinking fountain in the far north-eastern corner of the park is an 'Events Area' where the Bradford Mela takes place.

North of the southern entrance is an ornate stone drinking fountain* (1861) in memory of Alderman Thomas Beaumont.[2][7][11] The piers of this monument are recorded as having red granite corner shafts[11] however, these are no longer evident.

By the side of the bridge taking The Terrace over a carriageway is a wall drinking fountain (1859) with red granite surround put there by Charles P Melly a Liverpool cotton merchant and philanthropist.

Close to the site of the abutments of the bridge that crossed the lake embedded in a wall by the southern edge of the lake is an ornate grade II listed stone doorway* (1703–05). This was originally from the demolished Bradford Hall on Kirkgate, relocated here pre 1926.[2][3][12]

*listed building


Close to the Bolton Road entrance, adjacent to formal gardens is a 'distorted figure-of-eight' shaped lake with two islands and numerous water fowl. The island in the east of the lake is so large relatively that the lake takes on a serpentine appearance.


For young children there are two fenced-in and equipped play areas—one to the east of the lake and the other close to the southern entrance.[2] In the western end of the park is a sports field and BMX track.[13]

The recently redeveloped BMX racing track is floodlit, and open to the public outside club times.[14]

South of the Viewing Platform is the skateboard/BMX/rollerblade area, a five a side football court, tennis court, car park, toilets and changing rooms, cafe, pavilion and three bowling greens.[7][15]


Peel Park is open at any time all year round[15] and can be accessed from the main Cliffe Road and Bolton Road entrances and also from Park Cliffe Road and Lister Lane.[15] Although there are some steep paths and steps in the park, the pathways and carriageways will give wheelchair access to most of the park. Authorised vehicles can use the free-to-use car park accessible from the southern entrance gate.[15]


The Bradford Mela[edit]

Bradford Mela is a large scale celebration principally of South Asian culture[16] and was the first such event in Europe.[17][18] It takes place in the events area in the far north east of the park.

Mela from Sanskrit means 'a gathering' or 'to meet' and in the UK Melas provide an opportunity for communities to come together to celebrate and share their cultures.[18][19] The Mela used to take place over two days on a weekend where there is free admission to the park, and total visitor numbers are expected to exceed 100,000.[18][20] At the Mela there will typically be children's activities, face painting, exhibitions, funfair rides, interactive sports, visual arts, street theatre, music and dance on stage, singers, crafts, costume making, stalls selling food, a bio dome, and marquees.[21]

The first Bradford Mela was in 1988, held in fields at the back of the University[19] and is the largest such event in the UK and Europe.[20][22] After 1988 the Mela was held in Lister Park, Bradford until 1997 excepting for 1994 when it was held in Bowling Park.[19] Since 1998 the Mela has been held in Peel Park except for 2007 and 2012 when it was cancelled due to bad weather and ground conditions.[19][23] Recently, the Mela was reduced to a single day, and has now moved to Bradford City Park where it is part of the Bradford Festival.

Cyclo-Cross championships[edit]

The park has hosted events in the Cyclo-Cross National Trophy competition.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Peel Park, Undercliffe, Bradford, England". Parks and Gardens UK. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England – West Yorkshire – Peel Park" (PDF). Bradford Parks & Landscape Service. May 2001. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Welcome to Peel Park (Peel Park notice board), Bradford District Council 
  4. ^ a b c d West Yorkshire Archive Service (20 November 2009). "Catablogue – Collecting archives for West Yorkshire". Take flight!. Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "Cliffe Road Lodge, Gate Piers and Gates to Peel Park". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  6. ^ "Bolton Road Lodge, Gate Piers and Gates to Peel Park". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Walks in Parks and Woodlands" (PDF). City of Bradford Metropolitan Council – Parks and Landscape Service. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  8. ^ a b "Statue of Sir Robert Peel in Exhedra". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  9. ^ "Statues of Autumn and Spring". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  10. ^ "Drinking Fountain on East Drive". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  11. ^ a b "Beaumont Memorial Fountain to North of Cliffe Road Lodge". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  12. ^ "Former Doorway Re-erected on South Side of Lower Lake, with the Adjoining Section of Wall". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  13. ^ "Bradford Bandits BMX Racing Club at Peel Park". Visit Bradford. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  14. ^ "Peel Park BMX Track". Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  15. ^ a b c d "Peel Park". Bradford Parks & Landscape Service. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  16. ^ "Bradford Mela memories!". BBC. 15 June 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  17. ^ "Bradford Mela 2010". Bradford Mela. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  18. ^ a b c "FAQ". Bradford Mela. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  19. ^ a b c d "History". Bradford Mela. 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  20. ^ a b "Bradford Mela 2011". Activ Bradford. Retrieved 21 March 2011. ; "Bradford Mela". Activ Bradford. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  21. ^ "Bradford Mela at Peel Park". Visit Bradford. Retrieved 31 March 2011. ; "Arts in the spotlight as Bradford's famous Mela returns". BBC. 11 June 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  22. ^ "Bradford Mela". Activ Bradford. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  23. ^ "Welcome to Bradford Mela 2007". 9th Wave. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  24. ^ "British Cycling / Cyclo-cross". Retrieved 21 March 2011. 

External links[edit]

Peel Park
The Bradford Mela
BMX and the Cyclo-Cross Championship