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History of Locke Park
A great example of a Grade II listed Victorian Park, Locke Park is in Historic England’s Register of ‘Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest’. Locke Park is named after the renowned railway engineer Joseph Locke (1805-60), who was brought up in Barnsley.
The original park, then called People’s Park, was opened with some pomp and ceremony on 10th June 1862. Joseph Locke’s widow, Phoebe, had given High Stile Field to the town on 24 April 1861 to be a park in memory of her husband, one of Barnsley’s most prominent figures of the 19th century.
The layout of the early park which amounted to 17 acres of land, about 7 hectares, was organised by Joseph Locke’s former partner, John Edward Errington, who gave the task to Mr Edwards of the office of Locke & Errington, in London.
The North Lodge at the entrance to Locke Park was built at this time by John Moxon, stonemason and architect of Barnsley, and the walls were built by Mr Tattersall of Silkstone.
Joseph Locke is commemorated in the park by the bronze statue sculpted by Baron Carlo Marochetti.It was unveiled by Lord Alfred Paget on 18 January 1866.
Extending the park in Victorian times
In 1874, Phoebe Locke’s sister, Sarah McCreery, donated a further 21 acres (about 8.5 hectares) of land, in memory of her sister, who had died in 1866. This doubled the area of the park.
F W T Vernon Wentworth of Wentworth Castle made a further donation of 1.5 acres (about 0.5 hectares) of land at the junction of Keresforth Hall Road and Racecommon Lane. This made the total area of the park up to almost 40 acres (about 16 hectares).
The additions to the park, now called Locke Park, were officially opened on Tuesday 7 August 1877.
Locke Park Tower
Sarah McCreery also instigated the building of Locke Park Tower. She commissioned Richard Phené Spiers, the Paris trained architect of 12 Regent Street, London to design a tower combining a memorial and ‘pleasure observatory’, the land and tower costing over £11,000. Spiers was a leading architectural teacher in the later nineteenth century, being Master of Architecture at the Royal Academy Schools, and a respected scholar.
The work of excavating the tower foundations began in 1875; the contractors were Messrs Robinson and Son of Barnsley. A contemporary account describes the foundations as 9ft deep and 41 ft diameter, of solid concrete interlaced with rows of strong pit wire.
The tower of approximately 70ft (21m) had a weather vane at the apex of the lantern with Sarah McCreery’s monogram. The interior of the lantern was painted blue with stencil work of gold stars.
Locke Park Tower was formally opened on 20 October 1877.
The fountain opposite Locke’s statue was erected at the same time as the Tower as were the walls along West View and Racecommon Lane, and the West or South Lodge.
Spiers also oversaw the laying out of the additional park land which was undertaken by the landscape gardeners William Barron and Son of Elvaston Nurseries, near Derby. A sketch plan by Spiers, dated Feb 8th 1875, shows a layout of serpentine paths with a more formal symmetrical layout to the south-east corner incorporating the tower and flights of steps down to a terrace, providing an axial tendency to the overall design.
Extending the park further.
In December 1914 about 7 acres (about 3 hectares) of land east of Keresforth Hall Road and north of Beech Grove were purchased from the estate of Samuel Joshua Cooper, completing the outline of the present park and taking it up to 47 acres.