The history of Cliffe Castle Park from 1960
1960 - Sir Bracewell Smith adds a further £25,000 to the trust fund, as continuing problems of dry rot hamper the museum's development. Entertainment in the park during the summer months includes weekly concerts on Sundays at 3pm and 7:15pm. Stables and sheds at the rear of the house are cleared to create the car park.
1961 - It is reported that hundreds of people enjoy the August Bank Holiday in the park. Planting includes a mass of antirrhinum blooms, as well as salvias, hydrangeas, marigolds, and dahlias.
1962 - The public toilet block is constructed, the cafe is extended, and the bandstand is built. The first meeting of the Friends of Cliffe Castle is held. The front entrance area to the building is closed as further dry rot problems are dealt with. Beechcliffe House is demolished on account of the extent of dry rot infestation.
1963 - The old South Street toll gates are moved to Cliffe Castle Park from Victoria Park. Plans are drawn up for Skipton Road adjacent to Cliffe Castle Park to be linked through to Hard Ings with a new roundabout and road in a scheme that is more substantial than the original 1939 proposal. This requires boundary changes and a small loss of parkland, particularly in the vicinity of the roundabout.
1964 - A craft workshop extension is added to the museum. The North Eastern Gas Board amend the drawing of the 12 inch high pressure gas main passing through the park (the Aire Valley bulk supply main) to show it entering the park near the present roundabout.
1965 - Spring Gardens Lane is widened by moving boundaries on the opposite side of the road to Cliffe Castle. The work of Mr T. L. Ashton in the gardens of Cliffe Castle, and the work of Mr John Ogden, the Museum Director, is praised by the Chairman of the Library and Museums Committee when speaking to the Keighley Rotary Club.
1966 - Sir Bracewell Smith dies.
1968 - A new Old People's Centre is opened by Sir Guy Bracewell Smith on the site of Beechcliffe House.
1969 - The car park is often full on Sundays and Bank Holidays, with coaches taking up space. The Council considers how to provide more parking, with a site adjoining Beechcliffe old people's centre being an option. There is discussion about the need to extend the textile unit and the need for a lecture room.
1972 - A 'nature trail' that is mainly for children is created, with trees labelled by name, and a guide booklet.
1974 - A large extension on the site of the former Winter Gardens comprising a lecture hall/workroom and a display gallery are opened by Sir Guy Bracewell Smith. Creation of the Bradford Metropolitan District brings changes to the museum as Keighley Town council hold their last meeting.
1975 - Mr J. A. Hayton, Chief Engineer with Bradford Metropolitan District Council, is quoted as saying that there is a shortage of cash to maintain Cliffe Castle Park. He says that some planting may have to be changed to low maintenance shrubs or be grassed over.
1980s - The pool is in-filled and planted with heathers and rocks. The bottom may have been broken up.
1984 - Marie-Louise Roosevelt dies. A discrepancy about whether the lodge was included in Sir Bracewell Smith's purchase of the estate has the Trustees objecting to the proposed sale of the lodge.
1989 - Thoresby Hall, former home of Marie-Louse, and contents are sold off. Various artefacts are brought back to Cliffe Castle from where they came with the help of a public appeal, and with some items being borrowed.
1996 - The Elderly People's Centre on the Beechcliffe site, by now named the Bracewell Smith Centre, burns down. The insurance claim covers removal of the remains and grassing over of the site. It is reported that the association responsible for the centre had disbanded and hence had no interest in a replacement building. There continues to be conjecture today about the demise of the centre which some remember as a well used and missed resource.
2000 to Present
11 February: - At the Beechcliffe and Utley Neighbourhood Forum Keighley people were asked to join a new 'Friends' group to support long-term improvement efforts to Cliffe Castle Park and help care for and protect the parkland around the Museum. Bradford Council is preparing a feasibility study into a bid for Heritage Lottery funding. Cliffe Castle selected as a potential beneficiary and local residents were asked to draw-up a "wish list" for the proposed £4 million spend.
April: - Cliffe Castle Park Conservation Group formed. The voluntary body of members of the public and other interested parties and organisations aims to protect and improve Cliffe Castle Park, for the benefit of the environment, all those who use the Park and who reside in the surrounding area. The Group will also support Bradford Council's Heritage Lottery Fund bid.
June: - A display showing work being carried out in advance of a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund is exhibited in the Museum and then in Keighley Library. The display looks at how Bradford Council is carrying out an historical analysis of the park. People are invited to comment on the plans and pass on their memories of the park.
July: - The Conservation Group receives a 'Community Chest' grant as start up funding from Bradford Council's Keighley Area Coordinator's Office. Members of the Group attend Keighley's Aire Do in the Park and collect comments, suggestions and reminiscences from visitors to the event. There is also a special cake and refreshments for all as part of the Big Lunch.
October: - Information panels installed around the grounds of Cliffe Castle, as a discovery walking trail with details of the history of the building, the park and its plants and wildlife. The panels were developed by Debbie Hull, from the Council's Museums Service, in partnership with the Conservation Group, Renaissance Yorkshire and the Friends of Cliffe Castle.
December: - Bradford Council's bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund successfully passes first stage.
March: - The Conservation Group receives grants from Keighley Council's Oak Fund and Bradford Council's Keighley Area Committee to provide signage in the Park. 4 Finger Posts were erected around the grounds and a Map and Information Board on the wall of the Car Park.
May: - A notice board for the Park and Museum is officially 'opened' by Deputy Mayor elect George Metcalf during the Conservation Group's first AGM.
July: - Cliffe Castle Park Walks Leaflet published. This can be downloaded from Walks.
The year closes with the Conservation Group securing funding for the new play area by generous grants from Yorventure Landfill Communities Fund, through funds generated by Yorwaste Ltd, and from Wren Landfill Communities Fund.
2013 - At the end of July, on the same day as the ever popular Teddy Bears' Picnic, the new Play Area, complete with 'Cliffe the Caterpillar', is opened by Sally Walker, Mayor of Keighley.
TO BE CONTINUED...