I’ve lived in the Preston area for over 40 years but never been into Haslam Park. That was rectified this weekend, my friend Mike was researching a short walk for his walking group and thought the park and adjoining canals would be suitable.
The Preston City Council website says –
Formerly open pastureland, Haslam Park was donated to the Borough by Mary Haslam in 1910. She commissioned the parks design and construction in memory of her father, John Haslam, who was the owner of a cotton mill on Parker Street, Preston. Miss Haslam’s main ambition for the park was to ensure that ample space was made for the children, and to this end she donated additional money for the development of the park. From this generous donation landscape designer (or garden architect as he preferred) Thomas H Mawson was contacted. From his designs the park was finished and opened in 1912.
The historic features from this design include wrought iron entrance gates (these were restored in 1999 with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund), an avenue of lime trees, cast iron drinking fountain (this no longer works) and the lake and cascade from the Lancaster canal, still a popular part of the park. Also included in the original design was an arboretum and grass lands to encourage wildlife and flowers.
In 1915, Mawson amended his plans to include swimming baths, but due to the lack of funds and the First World War the plans were shelved. The baths were constructed in 1932 when Mr J Ward donated money for the baths and an aviary. Sadly both of these features no longer exist with the baths closing in 1987 and subsequently demolished.
We set off down that lime tree avenue past the drinking fountain and onto the Lancaster Canal. This was a quiet stretch with not much boat activity, in fact none at all. Walking past the ‘new’ town of Cottam we realised development was still proceeding at a pace, pity the local roads.
Canal towpath, quiet lanes and a golf course saw us onto the Ribble Link, a new navigation linking the Lancaster Canal to the River Ribble and hence into the national network. It was opened in July 2002 but has had several closures due to flood damage and the need for dredging. I wonder how much use it gets.
At the basin connecting to the Lancaster Canal there are steep locks and a strange statue.
We completed a 4 mile or so circuit just as the rain started again. A short walk a short post.