History of the park

Pool Riverside Park – How it came about.

A quote from the Conservation Appraisal granted in 2009 of which the recreation ground is a part.

“The Whiteley family was key to 20th century Pool due to influence in public building and being an important employer.”

We must attribute this wonderful amenity to the generosity of the Whiteley family.

Three brothers, Ben, Sam and William rented the paper mill to the right of Otley Road in 1886, eventually known as B.S.&.W. Whiteley Ltd. (photo left c1912). In 1914, when finances permitted, the by now only remaining brother with the company, William Lumb Whiteley  purchased the paper mill from the local family of Milthorp-Nicholson-Snowdon.  Over the 100 years that Whiteley’s paper mill was in operation it provided employment for much of the village. Said in 1934, “Pool was not hit by the General Depression; in fact there was scarcely an unemployed man in Pool”.

There had been suggestion of a playing field before 1934. It was at this point that it was written “Pool is the worst off of any in Yorkshire for a space for children to play”. An  application for funds to purchase such a site was refused by the County Council in Wakefield unless contributions from the village were made.  At this point Holmes Whiteley, son of William L. Whiteley gave £50  to begin a fund, when it was hoped it would be increased four or five times by the people of Pool.  This was one of the many gifts and loans made by the Whiteleys to the whole of the village and both churches.

In 1937 it became known that 10 acres of land named Sym Ings off Arthington Lane, was to be sold by the Milthorp-Nicholson-Snowdons, a local farming and mill owning family. A letter to Whiteleys from their solicitor suggests they do not show too much enthusiasm for the land as the seller may then raise the price!

After the land was purchased by the company in 1937 things were to move fast. After moving the cricket ground from behind the White Hart, by April 1938 the first cricket match was held on the newly acquired land..  The Whiteley family have always encouraged, supported, and played cricket in the village, one member reaching the dizzy heights of playing for Yorkshire.

In 1946 permission was granted by Whiteleys for the playing of association football, providing neither players nor spectators strayed onto the cricket field!

Two Tarmac tennis courts were later laid to replace a grass court which had been behind St. Wilfrid’s Terrace.

During WW2 twenty five allotments were sited where the floodlit football pitch is now sited.

Pool-in-Wharfedale Memorial Hall

In June of 1937 the Whiteley family assembled 80 residents with plans for the building of a village hall on part of the land.  It was anticipated to cost  £3,000.  However plans were shelved due to the outbreak of WW2.  When finally resumed in 1948 costs had risen.  At this point Holmes Whiteley and his younger brother William each donated £1,000. (drawing by architect of planned Hall left)

The whole village worked very hard to reach £13,000, the amount anticipated to be sufficient, holding whist drives, dances, balloon races, garden parties, stage presentations, raffles, sales of work, coffee mornings, and even “Men only” smoking evenings! B.S.&W. Whiteley Ltd agreed to give an interest free loan of £3,000 subject to the village raising a similar amount.

The first sods were cut by William and Holmes Whiteley on 27th April  1957. Two foundation stones were soon laid, “To those who served 1939-1945” with William and Holmes laying the foundation stone for their father “William L. Whiteley, J.P.”

The following is an extract from a souvenir programme produced at the official opening by Marion, Countess of Harewood on 2nd August 1958: “July 1958    Completion in sight.  Interest free loan of £3,000 received.  Hall and Grounds a constant scene of activity as helpers of all ages strive to complete remaining work before Opening Day. Funds (excluding  loan) £11,400.

It is estimated that the total cost, including building, professional fees, fixtures, fittings and equipment will be in the region of £15,500.  On completion however, it can be claimed that Pool-in-Wharfedale has one of the finest and most up-to-date halls in the Country.” (photo left, Countess of Harewood writing the first signature in the hall’s visitors book)

Birth of the R.G.M.C.

In 1946 the land was conveyed from B.S & W. Whiteley Ltd. to Holmes & William Whiteley (sons of William L Whiteley) and  Sir Arthur Fleming, to be held in trust “with a view to it being ultimately used for the recreational benefit of the inhabitants of Pool-in-Wharfedale”.  This was later extended to the surrounding district.

In 1972 the Trustees are still in the Whiteley family names but at this stage the Trust was handed to a Recreation Ground Management Committee – R.G.M.C., a committee at that time, made up of two members from  PPC, one each member of the Village Hall, Sports & Social Club, Pool school and a Trustee from the Whiteley family. Their first meeting was held in March 1973. In 1976 the Whiteley family then enabled the R.G.M.C. to purchase the land along the riverside between the old corn mill and Pool bridge thus the area of land became as it is today.

As originally intended, in 1996 the Recreational Ground Trust, was officially “vested in the Official Custodian for Charities and all the estate and interest therein belong to or held in trust for charity”,  Charity number 512427. There are no longer any “holding trustees”, the R.G.M.C. are the “managing trustees”.

Corn Mill

The mill  had been producing flour until around 1912. In 1925 the old medieval Corn Mill was purchased by William L. Whiteley. Some 10 years later, being in a poor state of repair it was demolished.

In 1995 a survey of the old mill was carried out by the West Yorkshire Archaeological Society in which the report states,

“The site of Pool Mill has been occupied by a water-powered mill from at least the middle of the 18th century.  It is possible that the water mill which appears on the Jefferys map of this period (1767) has its origins in the Medieval corn mill of Pool, for which documentary evidence exists, although the exact location is unknown.  This possibility would seem to be supported by a superficial examination of the upstanding masonry on the site.  The remains of Pool Mill are, therefore, not only of archaeological interest for the Industrial Period but also of potential archaeological interest for the Medieval and Post-Medieval periods.”

The old mill pond, remains of the corn mill complex, is now much reduced in size from the original pond and provides an attractive wetland area, with various types of wildlife.

A mill stone survives from the corn mill which is on loan by  the R.G.M.C to  Pool School.  It is now placed at their entrance

In 1972 the cricket field was again relocated and part of the recreation field was sold to the West Riding County Council for the building of a new school.  On 16 July 1975 the formal opening was made by Chairman of the Pool Parish Council, David Whiteley, grandson of W. L. Whiteley.

Pool Riverside Park

In 2015 the area managed by the R.G.M.C.  was re-branded to Pool Riverside Park with a smart logo, two interpretation boards designed by local school children and ten waymarker posts with QR codes that provide details of sites of interest within the park.

How happy would the founding members of the Whiteley family be to see their generosity, together with the dedication of the village, being enjoyed by all members of the community.

3 thoughts on “History of the park

  1. My new pool in wharfedale history web site is being launched. The address is poolinwharfedalehistory.co.uk

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