History – F & A Parkinson

continued …………………….Frank and Albert Parkinson’s journey begins

Around this time, down in a shed at Eldon Mount,  young Frank Parkinson was starting his electrical motor agency business with £21 from his post office savings.   The son of a local quarry owner on Moor Lane, Frank was an astute and forward thinking young man, and his business grew.  In 1913 his brother Albert joined the firm and the brothers turned to manufacturing motors.  So, during the First World War they moved their works on to Jonathan Peate’s land (Greenshaw Close) in Netherfield Road.  In hindsight this move was akin to the handing over of the local philanthropy baton from Jonathan to Frank – Jonathan died in 1924.

Crompton Parkinson founded on the same principles espoused by Gandhi

” he regarded himself as the trustee for whatever worldly possessions he had, and whatever use he made of them should be for the good of the country and in particular of this county” obituary 1946

In 1918 F & A Parkinson Ltd bought the Netherfield land from Jonathan, and a field called Kelcliffe Dole from the church, and expanded their factory.  Jonathan also acted as their mortgagee. Thus,  the first field of the park, Clapper Brow, came into the company’s ownership.  The company continued to thrive, even through the Great Depression, building their success on the ethos of ‘practical idealism’ (high wages for loyal staff and low productions costs for quality good); a philosophy also expounded by Mahatma Gandhi in his quest of Indian independence.  In 1927, they joined forces with Crompton’s, a lighting firm from Chelmsford.  The firm thus became Crompton Parkinson Ltd, greatly increasing the share value of the many small Guiseley and Wharfedale shareholders who had invested in F & A Parkinsons. In 1932, the Netherfield Road site was again extended with the building of a lamp works for manufacturing Crompton light bulbs.

Parkinson’s Park replaces Guiseley Recreation Ground

1960’s – Esme Dibb, Ethel Pickles and Joyce Greenwood enjoying a walk in the Park

But,  that was not the end of the firm ‘F & A Parkinson Ltd’.  The business ethos of the brothers meant that this organization continued to be used for building up assets for the welfare of employees – acquiring houses for their staff, and land interests.  In 1936/37 they bought the remaining fields of the Park and set about laying the footpaths from the old stone walls,  putting in gates at the entrances,  and seats along the ridge to admire the view of Hawksworth Moor, the famous Windy Ridge, made popular by the novels of  Bradford author Willie Riley, and the views up the Guiseley Gap to Wharfedale.

In the early 1950’s the two copses were planted to celebrate the national events of the Queen’s Coronation and the Festival of Britain.  During research on personal stories people told us that they were specifically designed in a certain shape – but no-one could remember what, and no paperwork existed to tell us.  It was only during other research that we realized that the top copse is in the shape of Yeadon (the Parkinson’s mother had been a member of the old Yeadon family) whilst the lower copse, which stood directly above the drive into the factory,  is the outline of Guiseley.   Nearer the factory the Parkinsons carved out a bowling and putting green together with a rose garden, tennis courts and a pavilion.

An Ox Roast from around 1911 on the Kelcliffe Recreation Ground

Part of the motivation for setting up the Park and giving it to the People of Guiseley, may have come from the loss of Guiseley Recreation Ground, on Kelcliffe Lane to council housing in the early 1920’s,  under the 1919 Addison Act – part of post World War One reconstruction.   The army had found that during the First World War many men had a shocking lack of fitness.  This was attributed to poor living conditions; a belief summed up in a housing poster of the period “you cannot expect to get an A1 population our of C3 homes” – referring to military fitness classifications of the war.   So Guiseley Town Council decided to use the allotments/recreation ground given to them by W W Whitaker Thompson on Kelcliffe Lane to build new, quality, houses for returning troops.

In recompense,  Jonathan Peate gave land at Nethermoor for a Park with an outline of how it should be turned into a Pleasure Park and cricket ground.  However, Jonathan died before this had all taken place; so it could well have been that F & A Parkinson decided that the area behind their factory could serve as both a place of rest and recreation for their staff and the people of the area.    A description of the old Kelcliffe Lane Recreation Ground at the time, is very similar to that of Parkinson’s Park.

Frank Parkinson’s legacy to Yorkshire and Guiseley

University of Leeds, Parkinson Building, 2017

In 1946 Frank Parkinson, like his father before, suddenly died of a heart attack – amongst his legacies was the magnificent front of Leeds University (the Parkinson Building) which cost £200,000; bursaries for Yorkshire students to study electrical engineering at the University; the Frank Parkinson Agricultural Trust; and one of the last great country houses built-in England, Charters, in Sunninghill, Berkshire.  He had moved to Berkshire in the 1930’s to be close to London and transport to the many company outlets across the Empire.   He left £1.5 million pounds in his will: not bad going for a boy born in South View, Guiseley 59 years before.   A very large proportion of this went to forming the Frank Parkinson Yorkshire Trust, which was to be used to help the poor, sick and elderly of Guiseley,  and educate and support young people in electrical engineering.

Annual events start in the Park

In addition,  his will gave £1,000 a year to be used for the benefit of the Crompton Parkinson staff.  In 1949 the Crompton sports and social club launched their first summer Children’s Gala in the park, which became an annual and much enjoyed event.  This was followed in 1951 by the first September Flower and Produce Show,  and, at some point, the October bonfire started,  complete with firework display, and vans selling parkin and hotdogs.

Continued .…………………………..Recent Times

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