Rectory Park given a new lease of life

Tim Duke and community archaeologist Kev Cale on the timber bridge.
Tim Duke and community archaeologist Kev Cale on the timber bridge.

Historic Rectory Park has been given a new lease of life thanks to a £30,000 boost.

Public access to the lower part of the park in Thornhill has been greatly improved, allowing more people than ever to enjoy a piece of Dewsbury’s heritage.

The park contains the remains of Thornhill Hall, which was built more than 500 years ago and destroyed during the English Civil War.

The ruins are Grade II listed and the moat and surrounding grounds is a scheduled monument.

Much of the lower park was inaccessible to wheelchair users and people with buggies due to wet, muddy ground.

The grant from the SITA Trust has paid for a small replacement pedestrian footbridge over the medieval moat of the former Thornhill Hall.

This included raising the height of the bridge to enable level access to it from both banks, for the particular benefit of the disabled, infirm and people with wheelchairs and pushchairs.

It also paid for a new gently sloping footpath to the footbridge landing and refurbishment of remaining steps, which were badly degraded. Visitors previously had to walk through mud to reach the bridge.

Footpath improvements have also been carried out from the Hall Lane pedestrian entrance to the park, along the west side of the moat to the start of the new pathway down to the bridge.

The previous path was largely unsurfaced and uneven and became extremely muddy in wet weather.

Tim Duke, the chairman of Friends of Rectory Park, said: “We would like to thank SITA Trust for their generous funding for the new bridge and associated works in Rectory Park.

“The new bridge and access path has opened up the island and its wealth of history to a whole new audience and is already being used by people in wheelchairs and on mobility scooters.

“The improvements have given a new lease of life to the lower park opening it up to the local residents once again and helping us to achieve our regeneration goals for the park as a whole.”

Leader of Kirklees Council Coun David Sheard said: “The scheme has already made a big difference to facilities in and around Thornhill Rectory Park.

“It has demonstrated how we will need to work in the future, by seeking new sources of finance to enhance the council’s services.”

The SITA Trust is an independent funding body set up in 1997 to provide funding through the Landfill Communities Fund.