Oakworth - West Yorkshire

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The Friends Group

The Friends of Oakworth (Holden) Park

Our group was established in April 2004. Mavis Curtis and Allan Rhodes had the idea to set up a group of interested people who would like to maintain and improve the beauty of the park and the unique stone grottos built by Isaac Holden.

We successfully ran our now famous 'Hallowe'en Party' event in 2004 where we decorated and illuminated the grottoes and invited parents and children to dress up in Hallowe'en costumes. This event was very popular and achieved one of our primary aims: To encourage more people into using their own local park. We also held many working parties where we cleared undergrowth and opened up new paths and generally tidied the park up. In particular the grottoes were revealed again by the sterling work of Glenys and Bill Heaton, who just about single handedly removed almost all of the overgrowing ivy. We also obtained some CNet funding for gardening tools in this year and in December held a stall in Holden Hall at the Christmas Fair, to raise funds and publicise the group.

In 2005 we ran a 'Picnic in the Park' event as well as the Hallowe'en Party with similar successful outcomes and this gave us the impetus to consider taking on some conservation projects, over and above the running of our own monthly working parties. Our first major project was the restoration of the two mosaic floor sections in the entrances to the main grottoes. (see the 'Mosiac Floors' link on the left). We used grant funding to restore the mosaics and had a new mosaic panel created along with teaching sessions in Oakworth Primary School. This panel is on display in the Summerhouse in the park.

In 2006 we had a stall at Oakworth Gala and we ran just the Hallowe'en event as the mosaic floor project took up a lot of time. We also had a stall at the Christmas Fair again.

In 2007 we held something different as this year was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir Isaac Holden, so we held a festival to celebrate this on his birthday on 7th May and invited members of his family along. Initially we expected just a couple of Holden family members to attend but we were very surprised to see over twenty people! The present Baronet, Sir Phillip Holden gave a speech and kindly opened the event and over a thousand local people attended on the day and the event was a resounding success. The Hallowe'en event sadly did not take place this year due to a lack of members and very poor local support to help with decoration of the grottoes.

We commenced a grant application for funding from the National Lottery 'People's Millions' scheme, to restore part of the original network of woodland paths. Two of our members appeared on TV with a public vote, we came second to a project in Huddersfield and failed in our funding bid. Not to worry as we were approached by Yorventure and made a grant application for Landfill Tax funding which was successful. Work commenced on the paths in late 2007 and they were finished in December 2007. The project was completed with the installation of three new picnic tables in spring 2008. We had restored over one kilometre of Sir Isaac's original Victorian path network!

In 2008 we held the Picnic in the Park' event and also the Hallowe'en Party. Quite a lot of people turned up to help this time and both events were another success. Work started on a grant application to turn the Summerhouse into a visitor centre.