What is the significance of Roberts Park?
In 1871 Salt added 14 acres of parkland designed by William Gay to enhance well-being and encourage sport among his workers. The area was landscaped to include a grand terrace for locals to ‘promenade’, a bandstand for outdoor concerts, a cricket pavilion and gardens filled with popular trees and plants.
Park rules were fairly punitive by modern standards (no children under 8 years without parents, no dogs, no touching the plants, no swearing or gambling), but this was a showpiece to be preserved and enjoyed by all.
Space was included for cricket, bowls, croquet and archery. Salt made efforts to widen and deepen the river in 1871 as it ran through the park, to accommodate bathing and boating (a popular pastime with locals). The pub on the riverbank still bears the name the ‘boathouse’ to mark this activity.
Building the park and improving access to Shipley Glen (via the Glen Tramway!) was intended to offset the lack of public space within the village itself. In 1920 Sir James Roberts gave the park to the local authority to be held in trust for permanent leisure use. A magnificent restoration, costing £4.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, was completed in 2010 by Bradford Council in co-operation with the Friends of Roberts Park.