SUMMARY OF HISTORIC INTEREST
A public park opened in 1879 and enlarged in 1887, 1899 and 1902.
Darwen Corporation acquired c 6ha (14a) of land from John Adamson in 1879 and Whitehall Park was opened the same year. Three further small plots of land (totalling c 0.6ha) were added between 1887 and 1902: in 1887 land was purchased from Mrs Vickers; in 1899 ground fronting on Cemetery Road was bought from J P Entwistle, extending the park to the north; and in 1902 the landholding was completed through a purchase of land from E Deakin. Whitehall Park is one of three registered parks in Darwen, the other two being Bold Venture Park and Sunnyhurst Woods.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Whitehall Park lies at the southern end of Darwen, adjacent to the town cemetery which lies to the north-east of the park and from which it is divided by a stone wall. To the south-east, also bordering the park, is a disused quarry, the western side of the park being defined by Whitehall Road. To the south is open farmland and moorland.
The park forms a long thin strip, 6.6ha in extent, which slopes steeply up from the town, the south end of the park giving on to the surrounding moorland. The site is divided into two parts by a walled public track running almost north/south across the park. The northern half consists of a long narrow strip of land, while the southern section forms the main body of the park.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The main entrance is at the northern end of the site, at the junction of Queen's Road and Cemetery Road. There are further entrances to the park from Queen's Road and Whitehall Road to the north, and from footpaths and the cemetery to the south and east.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
A path leads from the main entrance, to the south-east of which lie a bowling green and the children's play area, occupying the site of the former White Hall Mill. The path continues up a gentle slope through well-planted shrubberies, a side path leading in from the entrance, marked by a lych gate, on Whitehall Road. As it bends to the south, towards the top of this north section, the path passes the Catlow Drinking Fountain (c 1901, listed grade II), a wrought-iron canopied structure erected 'In commemoration of the Coronation, Messrs John Catlow & Sons'. Beyond the walled track which divides the park, the ground rises more steeply, the main feature of the site being a stream, broken into a series of falls and pools. In the main pool stands the cast-iron Lightbown Fountain presented to the park in 1886 by the Mayoress, Mrs Alderman T Lightbown.
Winding paths lead up through the wooded valley to levelled grass terraces, formerly the site of flower gardens, at the top (south) end of the park. From here there are fine views north of the fells at Longridge and of the Pennines. To the north-west of the terraces, in the south-west corner of the park, is the site of a bandstand (erected between 1894 and 1902, removed post 1956).
A depot area screened by a shrubbery lies on the western edge of the park, approximately half-way along the central track, south of the bisecting public right of way.
Borough of Darwen Souvenir (1902)
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1929 edition
OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1894
Description written: February 1999
Register Inspector: CB
Edited: April 1999