Roundhay Park is the largest park within the suburb of Roundhay in North Leeds. The park is a home for two lakes, the Waterloo Lake and the Upper Lake and mansions named Roundhay Mansion, Roundhay Castle and Tropical World. It is one of Leeds' premier parks covering 700 acres of parkland, woodland, lakes, attractive gardens, and a mansion house.
The park offers immense opportunities for recreation including walking and jogging routes, football and cricket pitches, bowling greens, tennis courts, a golf course, a playground, a skate park and some beautiful hills purposely designed for sledding. Interestingly, the paths are accessible for wheelchairs and buggies. Keeping in view the comfort of public clean toilets are also constructed.
Roundhay Park History
In the thirteenth century Roundhay Park was a privately owned hunting ground. Thomas Nicholson bought the park in 1803 and in 1811 John Clarke redesigned Roundhay as a private park. At the same time Roundhay Mansion was constructed. Further, in 1871 the park was bought by Leeds City Council for public use. The decision was not appreciated by many as it was seen as a waste of money because the park was at a great distance from the Leeds City Centre. Thanks to the industrial revolution, the city expanded in later years and the elite residents of the city constructed their houses close to the park.
Roundhay Park Attractions
This park is a dwelling place for wonderful floral displays in the specialist gardens. It includes the Monet and Alhambra gardens along with four gardens that were previously exhibited in Chelsea Flower Show. The park owns clean lakes, streams and a landscaped canal with attractive fishes and birds of various species.
The idea behind the main Waterloo Lake was of the soldiers when they returned from the Napoleonic Wars after the Battle of Waterloo. The lake is 60 ft deep and 33 acres in area. It was actually used for boating purpose but now, it is only used for fishing.
The White Elephant
John Barran, the Mayor of Leeds at that time was mocked in public for buying a 'White Elephant'. Roundhay was at a distance at that time from the city center, and could only be reached through a single route of the old 'turnpike' road. The purchase of the park was regarded as a reckless waste of money and the critics published the printed booklet named after 'The Big White Elephant.'
Open Air Swimming Pool
An open-air swimming pool ‘lido’ was constructed in June 1907 on Wetherby Road side of the park below the Waterloo Lake. It was constructed by unemployed citizens under a budget of £1,600. In its heydays in the 1950s and 1960s roughly 100,000 people visited the 'swimming baths' per year. The baths finally closed in the ’70s and the car park has been allotted.
Park and Gardens
The Park is a home for National Plant Collections, Canal Gardens, the Monet and Alhambra Gardens and Tropical World that attracts tourists all year round. Newly opened Friends Garden opened in 2005 and located alongside Canal Gardens.