A History of Littlemoor Park – Submitted by Sheila Thornton and Hazel Pearson

A HISTORY OF LITTLEMOOR PARK

Littlemoor Castle 1

Littlemoor Castle 2

This Park was formerly owned by the Foster family and a fine mansion once stood in the grounds, known to locals as” Littlemoor Castle”, and as the photographs show, it does resemble one.

The house contained 40 bedrooms and a fully tiled swimming pool in the basement. The Park covered 30 acres. There was an organ in the billiard room, and a banana tree in the conservatory. Black Dyke Band used to play on the lawn and Edward Elgar stayed there overnight to listen to the band. There was also a pond with sticklebacks and the odd trout. Skaters came when the pond was frozen.

Here is an extract from The Halifax Courier 4.7.1891

Mr Herbert Foster’s New House – Mr Herbert A Foster (at present on a Yachting tour), is having erected at Queensbury a very handsome mansion. The building is rich in massive stone work, and much resembles a castle, a fine tower rising well above the rest of the pile. The principal rooms are of noble proportions, and in one portion of the basement, a swimming bath is being formed all lined with white glazed bricks. The mansion will be fitted with electric light and the extensive grounds will be landscaped.

The Architects are Messrs. Healey and Healey, of Bradford.

The area at that time consisted of a small piece of common land (the only one in Queensbury),called “The Moor”, and other buildings on the site were, the Lodge, The Coach House (used as a Fire Station during 1939-1945 war. The Laundry, 22 houses, 3 farms and an engineering workshop.

1911 Census

Littlemoor Castle had listed:-

Herbert Anderton Foster age 57

Frances Edith Agnes Foster Age 27 (born London)

Herbert Frederick Brudenell Foster Age 2

Emma Louise Morgan Age 47 (ladies maid)

Bertha Oldfield Age 38 (housekeeper)

Annie Waterman Age 38 (Nurse0

Ethel Hilda Sellers Age 28 (kitchen maid)

Florence May Brown Age 19  “

Sarah Joyner age 29 (Housemaid)

Alice Pares age 23         “

Alice Fletcher Age 21   “

Fred Brooman Age 23 (Footman)

Charles Gibson Rowlinson Age 16 (Hall Boy)

Annie Elizabeth Williamson Age 32 (Dressmaker)

The Coach House had listed:-

George Shaw Age 57 (Coachman)

Elizabeth Shaw Age 62

John Age 36

Mary Age 32

The Lodge

Fanny Barden Age 32 (Headmistress)

Clara Barden Age 40 (sister)

Sutcliffe Fold

Martin Rawson Age 34 (Head Gardener)

Alice Parr Age 53 aunt (Housekeeper)

Ernest James Lane Age 23 (second Gardener)

Matthew Bosomworth (Butler)

Bessie Gertrude Bosomworth Age 33

Elizabeth Kathleen Bosomworth Age 1

44 to 46 Littlemoor

Margaret Graham Age 70 Widow

Caroline Graham Age 35 (laundress to the castle)

Sarah Ann Matson Age 47      “

The Fosters left the House in 1936 and it was given to Bradford Council

Extract from the Central Register of Charities.

Deed of gift dated 17th September 1936

Objects – For the purposes of a public park and recreation ground for the benefit and use of the inhabitants of Queensbury and the public and to be associated with the silver jubilee of his late Majesty King George the fifth and in the memory of the said Herbert Anderton Foster.

In the Telegraph and Argus dated 12th October 1937 an article headed Farewell to Queensbury Castle tells of Scrap Merchants, antiquaries and general dealers from all over the country invading Littlemoor Castle with their sale catalogues.

They came to buy from 400 lots of fine fixtures and fittings among these were a 10 column radiator 13shillings, an oak frame sash 5shillings. Grates, hand carved, finely wrought in iron and canopied, aroused interest and competition. An Italian Marble mantelpiece was sold and mahogany seats in Utrecht Velvet, the stone staircase, oak panels copper baths and lifts were sold.

Although businessmen dominated the crowd, with them were old grey men with beards and shawled women, some former Castle workpeople. Ezra Bateman was there, he knew the castle well. “It was all done up with the best of everything” he said “The best materials. Now they are selling it. It’s a pity.”

Littlemoor Castle, given to Queensbury some time ago, is to be extensively altered in the next 18 months. The big grounds will become a park and what is left of the castle after some demolition work may become a bandstand.

This postcard shows what was left.

Littlemoor Castle 3

The base was used by a model racing car group for many years, but children were drawn to the basement tunnels that were left and in 1993 a boy was injured when exploring the cellars he fell down a hole and had to be rescued by his pal.

Parents were worried and the Council decided to demolish and make safe the foundations.

 Littlemoor Castle 4

Picture shows cellars before demolition

In 1993 Bradford Council spent £25,000 reinstating paths and providing benches, cutting back and planting trees.

 In 2000 a tree planting scheme was put on hold after fierce resistance from residents. Half of Littlemoor’s open space was fenced off ready for planting as part of The Forest of Bradford scheme to plant 10.000 trees in the district.

The plan was revised and a smaller area was planted.

Currently the Park has a nature trail and the large open space is used by adults and children for various activities and is well used by people walking their dogs.

Extracts taken from Queensbury History Society Archives.

Sheila Thornton and Hazel Pearson

13 thoughts on “A History of Littlemoor Park – Submitted by Sheila Thornton and Hazel Pearson

  1. My wife says the park gives her the creeps , anyone else feel it ?

    She reckons evil things have taken place there but I don’t get it.

    The hanging tree as I call it is a bit spooky though !

    • Steve,

      The Queensbury Community Programme Walking Group were in the park yesterday evening, no one mentioned anything about it feeling creepy.

      Stuart

    • My daughter (3 years old) mentioned there’s a tall man with white hair that she sees, she’s seen him afew times but he doesn’t speak he just looks at us, freaked me out!! I love the park but can be creepy when alone

  2. I lived in Littlemoor Park from birth (1948) until 1959 when we moved up into the village. I was part of a big family which lived in what had been the coach house , during WW 11 it had been a fire station and then subsequently the large barn was used as a Queensbury council recycling depot, back in the 50s Queensbury and Shelf UDC were recycling waste cardboard and paper!
    The park was very well kept in those days by our neighbour Mr Wilson. E was the gardener employed by the council.
    The basements of the “castle” were almost intact, the windows being walled up. We, as kids managed to find ways in to explore the various rooms and tunnels. A bit scary for us kids.
    We climbed most of the trees, had dens everywhere. We collected birds eggs and played cowboys and Indians . What happy days we had. Every day was filled with sunshine and adventure. We went fishing for Sticklebacks down at the pond, and went swimming in the nearby clay pit.
    Never was it creepy nor evil. Although it has changed considerably since our time in the park, it is still a great place. Wild flowers and birds abound, great place to walk your dog.
    I believe the building was demolished because the timber used in the construction was of inferior quality and was rotting. Probably the reason the estate was donated to the village because of prohibitive repair costs.
    Happy memories. Jeff Langford.

  3. I used to race rc cars in the late 1970s what great times we had at littlemoor park .How i wish the track was still there. Will try to post photographs of the model car track .Best regards Tony (from Hull )

  4. My 90-year old father, James Lane, who is the sole surviving child of Ernest James Lane (identified on the above 1911 census as ‘second gardener’ living in ‘The Lodge’ aged 23) is currently piecing together a detailed account of Ernest’s life. He is not particularly ‘Internet savvy’ so he has requested I contact you on his behalf.

    My father has a large, quality photograph of Ernest taken at Electric Light Studios, Gt Horton (he was previously living in Leicester). In the photograph he looks about 20 years old, and significantly younger than in photographs of when he was 23/24. If that estimate of his age is accurate, it indicates that he was working for Mr Herbert & Mrs Francis Foster far earlier than we previously thought – as early as 1906.

    My father wondered if you had any access to employee records from the house which indicated when he might have started working there and when his employ was terminated.

    With many thanks and best wishes,

    Justin Lane

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