In February 1898 Mr. Henry Knowles offered to transfer some of his
land to the public for ever; it was known as the Hall Leys.
Henry Knowles died later that year and at an Urban District
Council meeting in January 1899 it was confirmed that the Council
had bought the land for a public promenade;
on the motion of Mr. Job Smith it was resolved that it should
be fenced. It
was the first step in the purchase of land and development of
what is today known as the Hall Leys Park. In 1907 they negotiated
to buy a further 7¾ acres
of land next to the river promenade.
Here is an interesting picture of the Park, with the
trees along the river walk on the right looking relatively newly
planted. The landscaping in the rest of the park is also very new.
The long and wide straight Promenade on the right of this photograph,
called the Broad Walk, was the first part of the Park to be developed.
It ran from Crown Square down the side of the Orme's building,
which used to be next to the County Bridge but was demolished in
along to Knowleston Place and joined the Pic Tor Walk. By the
end of March 1904 "the Haw Lees" Promenade had "just
been planted with sixty odd trees" but
in May the same year the number was revised to a hundred trees.
The substantial tree planting scheme along the Broad Walk laid
the foundations of the modern park.
In 1910 the Urban District Council resolved to spend £1,000
on the development of the Hall Leys estate as a pleasure resort.
They already had cash in hand from the rates. One councillor, a
Mr Shenton, also felt the Pavilion buildings scheme was most essential.
The Pavilion can be seen on the left. Until the ceremony to lay the
first sod of the bowling green in early 1912 there had been no celebration
to open the park as sections of the grounds had been opened gradually
when each stage was finished. The park as we see it here had been
designed by the architect John Nuttall, a member of Matlock's Council,
alongside Mr. Turner the surveyor. The work itself was undertaken
by Mr. Henry Ballington, who was the Council's landscape gardener.
Tennis courts are marked out on the grass and a game appears to
be in progress. It is hard to be completely sure but it looks as
if the ladies on the left hand side of the picture are involved
in a doubles game, albeit a fairly sedate one, with the male figures
simply watching. Another person seems to be standing more or less
at the net so may be acting as an amateur umpire.
If you look carefully you will notice that a fence made of fairly
sturdy posts with what looks like wires or ropes connecting them
separates the Broad Walk from the rest of the park. The wires or
ropes were, in fact, old and unwanted tramway cables.
Using them for fencing was one the Council's solutions for disposing