Howard Park, opened in 1888, with its integral Baths and Hospital, was designed by Henry Ernest Milner, son of Edward Milner with whom he worked from 1870 until the latter's death in 1884.
In 1887 a number of proposals were made to celebrate the Jubilee of Queen Victoria and to benefit the people of Glossop. Among these was the announced intention of the Wood family, cotton industrialists and prominent employers in the town, to provide a hospital, baths, and public park. Land was offered for the project by Lord Howard of Glossop, which amounted to about 12 acres (5ha) and included a small reservoir. The enterprise was thus an unusual example of combined Victorian philanthropy from prominent local industrial and landed persons. The site was formerly agricultural, known as Barker's Clough, and divided into two parts by a gully known as Robin Hood's Gutter.
Mr and Mrs Samuel Wood donated the public baths and the cost of enclosing and landscaping the park, together with an endowment of c £20,000. The cost of laying out the park was c £6000 and included about 14,000 shrubs and plants. Mr Daniel Wood, brother of Samuel, bequeathed £25,000 for the building and endowment of Wood's Hospital.
The design and laying out of the park was carried out by Henry Ernest Milner, with supervision by one of his principal foremen, Mr Martin. H E Milner's scheme shows a strong paternal influence from Edward Milner (1819-84) (Chadwick 1966; Bakewell & Dist Hist Soc 1982), who was one of the most prominent assistants trained and employed by Joseph Paxton (1903-65), and thus continues the strong influence and legacy of Paxton in Derbyshire.
H E Milner refers to Howard Park in The Art and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1890), describing the need to integrate the three elements of hospital, baths, and park into a single design, and the methods used to take advantage of the natural ravine while unifying the park. Milner also acknowledges that an object in creating a park may be to increase the value of adjoining potential building land with the suggestion that this was the case at Glossop. Further evidence for this is the creation of Park Crescent as part of the design on two sides of the park adjoining farmland, so as to create a carriage drive around the park.
A Manchester architect, Mr Murgatroyd, designed the hospital, baths, and lodges at the two entrances. The contractor for the hospital and baths was Samuel Robinson of Hyde, Cheshire and the lodges were built by Mr Ingham of Glossop. A bandstand and commodious shelter (now gone) were by Mr Thomas Inman of Stretford.
Samuel and Daniel Wood died before the official opening of Howard Park, originally to have been named Victoria Park, in June 1888, and the associated ceremonies were thus subdued. Wood's Hospital opened in January 1889 and Wood's Baths in February of the same year.
By 1898 some residential development had taken place to the east and south-west of the park and further development has taken place in the C20, with private gardens now extending to the east boundary of the park and houses facing towards the park across Park Crescent to the west.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING Howard Park lies about 0.5km to the north-west of Glossop town centre. The c 5ha site, including the Baths and Hospital, rises from south to north. The area is now predominantly residential, with Wood's Baths sited at the south-west corner of the park and Wood's Hospital at the north-west corner. To the south the park is bounded by Dinting Road; to the east it abuts a triangular piece of land bounded by North Road to the east, this area being now in-filled with residential development. Milner's original concept of private gardens appearing to merge with the larger recreation ground has generally been maintained. This is particularly the case with Park Dene, whose grounds adjoin the lake at the south-east corner of the park; and to the east of the park where planting masks the boundary lines of late C20 housing which has replaced a Maternity Home. The west and north boundaries are formed by Park Crescent, with rising farmland to the north and mid to late C20 housing to the west. Railings remain along the boundary between the lake and Dinting Road, but if they were ever erected around Park Crescent they have now gone, leaving the road with the character of an unfenced country lane. Mature boundary planting rings most of the park but only a narrow strip of land separates the lake from Dinting Road so at this point water rather than planting forms the boundary. From the northern section of the park there are extensive views over Glossop and to moorlands to the south and east, punctuated by the tall chimney of the Baths. To the north there are glimpsed views to the rising ground leading up to Castlehill Wood to the north-west.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES The main entrance is from Dinting Road to the south, with the lodge and Baths to the south-west and the lake to the east of the principal path. A secondary entrance, also with a lodge, lies at the north-east corner of the park at the junction of North Road and Park Crescent. Both entrances have simple ironwork gates and fluted cylindrical gateposts with spiked ball detail. The lodges are both of one-and-a-half storeys in natural stone with timber detailing to gables in Vernacular Revival style. The open boundary to Park Crescent allows informal access at various points and there is access from the private gardens of houses adjoining the park to the east.
PRINCIPAL BUILDINGS Wood's Baths are a dominant feature at the main entrance, which provides access to them. The entrance, like the other park buildings by Murgatroyd, is in natural stone with a greenish slate roof. The Baths however are in an Italianate style with arched clerestory windows and with an imposing 30m high tower designed to remove smoke from the boiler and vapour from the Baths.
Wood's Hospital is a low, E-shaped building on high ground at the north-west corner of the park and provides both a closing and focal point as it comes into view from paths leading up towards it through the park. The stone gables facing into the park, with their decorative tile detailing and greenish slate roofs, have been somewhat infilled and extended with flat-roofed extensions to each end. The park was intended to serve the dual purpose of public amenity and convalescent ground. The Hospital is now run by an NHS Trust.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS Howard Park is laid out with inter-linked serpentine paths screened by landform and planting to present a variety of views and punctuated with a number of formal and informal features. The 1898 OS map suggests the original pattern of paths remains largely intact. A stream runs through the centre of the park, tamed to form a series of cascades with rockworks, pools, and runs of varying character. In parts the stream is culverted over, with the banks levelled down so as to unite the two sides of the site.
From the main entrance a single path, flanked by two stone lions, one set in a raised planting bed, leads north to the Wood Memorial Fountain, erected in 1889 by the inhabitants of Glossop in memory of Samuel and Daniel Wood. Behind the fountain lies a small cascade and here the path divides. To the west the path winds uphill to run roughly parallel with Park Crescent, with screen planting to the west and grassed mounds to the east controlling the views, to a central viewpoint marked by a fountain basin in front of Wood's Hospital. The fountain has been removed and only the basin remains, used as a planter. An early to mid C20 glasshouse between the fountain and Park Crescent has been removed, leaving an unplanted space open to the road. Also set at the side of the path in front of the Hospital is a stone boulder, unearthed during construction of the park. Beyond this feature lies the watercourse, with cascades over rockwork and pools on either side of the path.
The east path from the Wood Memorial led originally towards a circular levelled area with bandstand and shelter, now replaced by a small children's playground and seating. This area thus remains as a resting point from which to view the lower areas of the park.
Although the ground slopes quite steeply, the only set of steps within the park climb northwards from the playground to a path leading towards the entrance from North Road. The path is enclosed with belts of dense planting interspersed with areas of open grass. Paths in the central area of the park are treated in a similar way, giving a selection of routes along and over the various water sections and between densely planted areas. A feature of the principal paths is a half-round earthenware channel set on either side to carry away rainwater.
In the south-east the calm expanse of the small lake contrasts with the more intimate, enclosed areas and the noise of rushing water found elsewhere in the park. Milner added a small island to the existing reservoir and elongated its outline to the north-west where the stream enters.
The park is planted with a variety of shrubs and trees and the combination of deciduous and non-deciduous species, generally in dense groups, contrasts well with the sloping lawns and moving water, in accord with the original design as indicated on the 1898 OS map.
North Derbyshire and North Cheshire Advertiser, 22 June 1888 The Glossop Dale Chronicle, 23 June 1888 R Hamnett, Notes on the History of Glossop (originally published 1913-14 in the Glossop Chronicle; transcription copy held at Glossop Library), pp 127-30 G F Chadwick, The Park and The Town (1966), pp 106, 108 J Scott et al, Glossop Dale, Manor and Borough (1973), p 85 J Bakewell & Dist Hist Soc (Jan 1982), pp 88(95 Glossop Heritage, (Glossop Heritage Committee c 1985), p 35 J Hamner and D Winterbottom, The Book of Glossop (1991), pp 97-103 M Buxton-Knott, Reflections of Glossop (1995), p 46 M Buxton-Knott, More Reflections of Glossop 1950-1974 (1996), p 36
Maps OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1881 OS 25" to 1 mile: 2nd edition published 1898
Description written: November 2000
Amended: January 2001
Register Inspector: HMT
Edited: May 2001