Robin Longbottom examines the history of a town park, whose use was once governed by a stringent list of rules and regulations

ON Tuesday, July 23, 1907, there was an evening of dance in Lund Park, Keighley.

The music was provided by the Cowling Temperance Prize Band, which performed at the park's bandstand, a structure conveniently surrounded by hard standing suitable for dancing. The dances included sequence – such as the Lancers, the Veleta and the Military Two Step – and dances for couples such as the Schottische and the Viennese waltz, all popular dances of the day.

Lund Park had been opened in 1891, but the decision to create a park there was not without controversy.

Some Keighley council members objected to its location on the grounds that it would be of benefit to non-ratepayers who lived nearby in the parishes of Oakworth and Bingley, which at that time extended to the River Worth at Ingrow. However, the objections were overcome when the landowner, James Lund of Malsis Hall, near Glusburn, generously offered to give 14 acres to the town.

The park was opened to the public on July 21, 1891. The day began with a grand luncheon for 200 guests given by the mayor, Ira Ickringill, at Holy Croft School, which was nearby. After lunch the party proceeded to the park entrance where the gates were officially opened by Mrs Lund with a golden key.

Work to create the park had taken nearly two years. It had a grand gated entrance on Malsis Road that led to a wide promenade between an avenue of trees. To the left of the entrance were three small lakes, one dominated by a magnificent fountain that had been donated by James Lund. Half way along the avenue, to the left, was a drinking fountain and to the right, a short distance from the avenue, was a large pavilion, or shelter, and beyond the pavilion was the bandstand.

At the far end of the park were several greenhouses where plants for the numerous flowerbeds were grown. There were also two public toilets discreetly located at the far side.

A resident park keeper, who was lodged in a small cottage at the western end, managed the day-to-day running of the park and was backed up by an extensive list of rules and regulations that controlled how the park should be used. These included many restrictions. No dogs or other domestic or farm animals were allowed in, no vendors or hawkers, bicycles were not allowed and in what may well have been Keighley’s first public smoking ban, smoking was prohibited in any of the park buildings.

Birds and animals were also protected – "No person shall capture any bird, or take or disturb any birds nest...or ill-treat any animal, waterfowl or fish". The throwing of stones and missiles was prohibited as were games, unless authorised. Other rules also restricted its use, such as “no person shall, within the park, beat, shake or clean any carpet, rug or mat" or use it as a "drying or bleaching ground".

Some rules were eventually relaxed and in the 1920s tennis courts, two bowling greens and a putting green were created. During the Second World War the gates and railings that surrounded the park were removed for the war effort, and opened the park to future damage and vandalism.

Eventually the small lakes were filled in and James Lund’s grand fountain was removed. The greenhouses gradually fell out of use and there was no longer a resident park keeper. The extensive flowerbeds gradually gave way to more grassed areas and the bandstand was demolished.

The once-grand Victorian park is now a large green space and is today open to dog walkers, cyclists and other recreational activities, although the drying of clothes and beating of carpets may still be prohibited!