A public park opened in 1871 and designed by William Gay for Sir Titus Salt with buildings and structures by Lockwood & Mawson, as part of the model industrial town of Saltaire.
Saltaire was laid out by Lockwood & Mawson as a model town around Salts Mill for Sir Titus Salt (1803-76) during the years 1851-71. An undated map by Lockwood & Mawson shows the executed plan. The park was one of the last parts of the town to be completed and at the opening ceremony Salts Mill closed so that the workers could attend. Initially called the People's Park or Saltaire Park, it was given to Shipley Urban District Council by their newly elected chairman, James Roberts, who was also the manager of Salts Mill, c 1910. Following a quarrel with the Council he took it back and presented it to the City of Bradford in 1920 from which time it was called Roberts Park. The park remains (1999) in the ownership of the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Roberts Park is situated on the north side of Saltaire on land which slopes southwards down to the banks of the River Aire. The c 6ha site is bounded by Victoria Road on the east side, Higher Coach Road on the north side and a fence dividing it from housing and a recreation ground on the west side. The southern bank of the Aire and the precincts of a boathouse on the bank form the south boundary.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
There are two entrances into the park. The principal entrance, at the mid-point of the east side, has a stone lodge (Lockwood & Mawson c 1870, listed grade II). The other entrance is via a C20 cast-iron footbridge over the river, which is reached from a path running west from Victoria Road. The path divides, with one branch leading north-west to a boathouse and the other leading north to the footbridge, which replaced a road bridge.
The principal building of the park, which acts as a focus for the design, is a tea room designed by Lockwood & Mawson c 1870 (listed grade II). It is built into a terrace with the roof, which projects as a balustraded semicircle, acting as a viewing platform. Steps lead down on either side and large windows give views over a cricket ground to the south. The integration of the building into the park's design suggests that William Gay (1814-93) must have collaborated closely with the architects.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
The park is divided into three areas: gardens, sports fields and the river. The plan is articulated around an east/west axis with a terraced walk which runs from one end of the site to the other, terminating with shelters (both listed grade II). At the mid-point of the terrace is the projecting semicircular viewing platform formed by the roof of the tea room, which gives views over the town to the south. On the platform there is a statue of Sir Titus Salt (F Derwent Wood, listed grade II) which was erected in 1903 to commemorate the centenary of his birth.
To the north of the viewing platform is the site of a bandstand, which was demolished during the Second World War. North of this a shrubbery replaces an axial path leading north, shown on a late C19 plan by Lockwood & Mawson, which terminated with a shelter (listed grade II), which survives. The land north of the terrace, which occupies approximately one third of the park's area, is laid out with gardens and curving paths, edged with rocks in places. These are shown in similar form on the Lockwood & Mawson plan. In a book published in 1895 the educational nature of this part of the park was stressed; at that time all the plants were labelled, to facilitate the 'acquisition of botanical knowledge'.
To the south of the terrace there are sports grounds and a cricket pitch with a cricket pavilion overlooking it from the south-west corner of the site. The area was designed to accommodate various sports including croquet and archery as well as cricket.
On the southern edge of the site the River Aire was widened to provide facilities for boating and swimming. On the south bank there is a boathouse, probably of late C19 date.
Anon, Saltaire, Yorkshire, A Sketch History, (Sir Titus Salt, Bart, Sons & Co Ltd 1895), pp 24, 29
A Holroyd, Saltaire and its Founder, Sir Titus Salt, Bart (nd, late C19), pp 62(70
G F Chadwick, Park and Town (1966), pp 108(9
J Reynolds, Saltaire, (Bradford Art Galleries and Museums 1976)
W E Alderson, Salt and Saltaire (1986)
Saltaire Trail, (Bradford Metropolitan Council 1996), pp 1, 29, 32
Lockwood & Mawson, Plan Shewing the Town and Works of Saltaire, nd (late C19)
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1848
OS 25" to 1 mile: 1934 edition
Description written: February 1998
Amended: March 1999
Register Inspector: CEH
Edited: November 1999