Historical Parks in Bradford – Final Critical Report

Bradford Heritage Clock

Bradford Heritage Clock

Historical Parks in Bradford
West Yorkshire – UK

Final Critical Report & Research overview

My name is Susanne Silveira and I have researched and visited the ten English Heritage Parks in Bradford District over the last 3 months. I have undertaken this project as part of my 2nd year Photography BA Hons degree, part of my Studio Practice 2-A project. It has been a remarkable journey. Each park has its uniqueness, charm and appeal to it. The Bradford District has thirty six public parks, over one hundred recreation grounds, more than one hundred and forty play areas and large areas of woodlands, managed by the Council’s Sport and Leisure Service*. Of these thirty six parks, ten are part of the English Heritage ** and of these ten parks, five have received The Green Flag Award*.

Today Photography is spread out and available to all, that the value of this media can be shaded. The photograph once was ‘a doorway onto a world waiting to be recorded’ (The Photograph by Graham Clarke, page II). We have now recorded and captured perhaps almost the entire world in our images. And while we should keep an adventurous and forward spirit, remembering our past is also ever so important. Treasuring its achievements, its prizes, its people.

To realise Bradford District’s care towards the community in relation to public green areas is to be certainly applauded and appreciated, along with the English Heritage, CABE (the government’s advisor on architecture, urban design and public space from 1999 to 2011) and the Green Flag Awards, to mention but a few, key figures in the preservation and promotion of these precious areas. (The Green Flag Award scheme recognises and rewards the best parks in the country and is run by environmental charities Keep Britain Tidy, The Conservation Volunteers and GreenSpace.) ***

I have visited each of these ten parks in order to present a photographic body of work that would not only acknowledge the people and values from the past, but also promote and appreciate the Park’s current values and use. These parks are amazingly cared for. Some could do with some more investment and attention, but mostly they are fantastically well kept.

The final presentation in itself is worthy of a stand out, due to the important story that it tells. In a correlation to history and time I have structured the final presentation in the format of a clock.

The main image in the centre is from Roberts Park in Saltaire, which includes Salt’s Mill in the background. This image gets the limelight attention as Roberts Park has not only received the Green Flag Award twice, but for Saltaire’s importance, being part of the World Heritage. The tones in sepia with the colours slightly coming through mark a transition from past to present.

The four major colourful images around the clock all celebrate parks awarded with the Green Flag award and Undercliffe Cemetery with its grade II* listing. On top the first image is from Lister Park (that has won the honour of the Green Flag award for 11 years in a row) with bright colours and also including the car and street lights, making this a very current record of this time and age. On the right we have St Ives estate with its amazing and fantastic woodland. St Ives estate is rich in history, worth looking into. The English Heritage listings summarize the work done since 1803 to current days. St Ives is portrayed twice, with a second image in tritons on the outer circle, showcasing one of the many chainsaw carvings by Rodney Holland present in the Park.**** Undercliffe Cemetery (the only park with a grade II* listing) is at the bottom, completing a half hour cycle. Only 5.5% of all listed building are grade II* (see English Heritage website). The cemetery was opened in 1854 and designed by William Gay. This is considered to be one of his finest work. Almost completing the cycle, we have another image from Roberts Park to the left. Roberts Park was first opened in 1871 and the photograph includes the statue of sir Titus Salts, made in celebration of the centenary of his birth and also the bandstand which was demolished during the Second World War.

In the outer circle I include eight images 6×4 inches, all in 3 different tones of brown (tritons). The size is a compositional strategy, to make the presentation appealing to the eyes and also comparing to some clock designs where the number for hours 12, 3, 6 and 9 are bigger than the other numbers. The brown like/sepia tones have been chosen to deliberately resemble an old photograph, which could have been taken a century ago. For the outer circle we have the older photographs, and on the main hour spots we have the current photographs in full colour. The ‘face’ of the watch brings them all together, not only in tones, where the natural colours come through; but also historically, due to the cite being not only an English Heritage but also a World Heritage.

In the outer circle we have St Ives sculpture made of wood facing inwardly and on the opposite side as a last image we have an angel sculpture from Undercliffe cemetery almost facing back, inviting the viewer to look around the clock one more time. We secondly have a photo of Lund Park, first opened to the public in 1891. Subsequently there is an image of Peel Park. Peel Park was the first public owned park in Bradford and was first opened to the public in the early 1850s. Thereafter there is a photograph of Central Park in Haworth. The park was first opened to the public in 1927.

Passing the half hour mark we have a photograph of Prince of Wales Park, a public park in Bingley first opened in 1865, then Horton Park, first opened to the public in 1878 and Bowling Park, first opened to the public in 1880. Horton Park, Bowling Parks and Lister Park have a fossilised tree stump and roots that were found in quarry operations in the stone quarries at Clayton. The clock circle is finalised by the angel sculpture from Undercliffe Cemetery introduced above.

This cycle and body of work represent a journey in time. The time of land and people’s history preserved to this day and also the development in the progress of artistic representation. From a time of paintings to a very much digital world. Showcasing photography as a media, representing first its conventional roots with colour and technical limitations to today’s digital colour and pos-production abundance; all coming together in a full cycle, celebrating Bradford’s Heritage.

Susanne Silveira
Studio Practice 2-A
Photography BA Hons – Year 2
Bradford College 2012/13

Note: All images were digital.
Historical data was extract from a public report supplied by the English Heritage website, containing each site’s list entry summary. See report enclosed, highlighted accordingly.

* Source: http://www.bradforddistrictparks.org/index.php
** Source: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/professional/protection/process/national-heritage-list-for-england/
*** Source: http://www.bradforddistrictparks.org/news/news_detail.php?ID=212
**** Source: http://yorkshire.greatbritishlife.co.uk/article/yorkshire-walks–st-ives-bingley-3788/