Councillors planning Salford’s Chimney Pot Park wanted to open the city’s first urban boating lake in Langworthy, SalfordOnline.com can reveal.
The six-acre park, at the corner of Liverpool Street and Langworthy Road, opened in August 1915 on the site of the former Highfield Reservoirs.
A reminder of the park’s heritage can be found in the banked brick walls facing Langworthy Cornerstone and in the names of nearby streets, such as Reservoir Street, Wall Street and Highfield Road.
Today Chimney Pot Park it is still a popular spot with a children’s play area and well-used bowling green, but had original plans gone ahead it could have seen Salford’s first yachting lake high above the chimney tops.
The plans were only scuppered by fears the council could have an expensive white elephant on its hands.
In 1871 the Manchester Waterworks Committee made a contract to supply a stated amount of water per day to the community – whether it was used or not.
Salford Council decided that because they were not using this amount of water, but were paying for it anyway, built reservoirs to hold their surplus supplies.
But by 1903, Salford struck a new deal with Manchester to supply water through a meter, so there was no use for the vast reservoirs.
Councillors offered Highfield to the Salford Parks department, who readily accepted with the idea of building a boating lake.
The mass labour required to fill in the reservoir, ready for Salford’s first marina, was given to local unemployed men, who spent thousands of man hours on the backbreaking task.
It began in September 1908 and continued through until May 1909, costing a total of £2,500 – some £268,774 in today’s money.
Between 1909 and 1913 no further moves were made to get boats on the lake or open it to the public, as the former reservoirs had to settle.
The park was to be called – not Chimney Pot Park – but the rather less memorable ‘Langworthy Green’.
But just two years before it was due to open, the Parks Department abandoned the idea of a boating lake for the Langworthy public, instead refocusing the plans to provide general recreational space.
£9,500 was pumped into building two bowling greens, six tennis courts, and two gymnasiums for children.
Can you imagine what the park would look like today if the earlier plans had gone ahead?
Langworthy Green was opened on 11 August 1915 by Mayor Alderman Worsley, along with his daughter and a host of civic dignitaries.
He told the Salford City Reporter: “On approaching the park one is much struck by the splendid appearance of the entrance, the gates are in the centre and one or two ways are is open for the visitor to pass along.
“Mounting the asphalted walk a splendid view is obtained of the park, some six acres in extent”.
Interestingly enough at the opening ceremony the Mayor wasn’t presented with a key as was the norm but a silver tea service inscribed with the wording, ‘Presented to the Mayor of Salford, Ald Worsley upon the occasion of the opening of Langworthy Green, August 1915’.
The Mayor then gave a speech in which he remarked that Langworthy residents could, instead of making the journey to Buile Hill Park, “enjoy their own local park at their own desire”.
In a sign of the times, Ald Worsley continued to say that ladies could “bring their sewing and mending to the park” and sit in comfort doing their work in pleasant surroundings.
The opening ceremony was finished off when the Mayor and Alderman Oliver opened one of the bowling greens and had a game of ‘five up’, which history records Alderman Oliver won by one game.
The greens were then thrown open to the public for the afternoon, free of charge for that one day.
During World War Two the park was closed for safety measures and ‘barrage balloons’ – inflatables held down by steel stansions to prevent enemy aircraft from flying too low – were erected in the park and manned by Canadian soldiers.
Do any of our Langworthy residents have Canadian heritage, I wonder?
If you walk along Wall Street adjacent to the park, you can still see where the entrances to the air raid shelters which were dug underneath the park, these would have saved many lives in Salford as that area suffered quite badly in the Blitz.
The park is still open to this day and it hasn’t really changed much, althought it has a new stone stepped entrance from Langworthy Road, it still has at least one bowling green with a club house, and childrens swings and is as popular as ever.