Slaithwaite Spa was once an amazing parkland attraction in the Colne Valley.
It had swimming baths, a grand hall, bandstand, bowling green, tennis courts, beautiful gardens and, in 1860, was hailed as the ‘Harrogate of the district.’
But by 1925 its heyday was over and most of the last century saw it in steady decline with the buildings now long-gone … but a dedicated group of volunteers are doing all they can to preserve its heritage and improve it for future generations.
It’s hard to believe that the original park once employed 10 full-time gardeners yet now relies almost totally on volunteers from the local community with Kirklees Council still mowing the grass.
The Friends of Slaithwaite Spa (FoSS) formed in 2004 and over the last 20 years a core group has worked non-stop on the park to attract visitors back and add to a village that, in recent times, has started to boom again with loads of places to eat and drink, independent shops and venues with live music.
One of FoSS’ major projects at the moment is forming a meandering path which involves uncovering and restoring an overgrown Victorian winding footpath that runs from the gate entrance at Spa Lane through the woods to the rugby pitch.
The volunteers have also had to shift some huge rocks to plant saplings at the park’s entrance and often work with local scouts so the youngsters can achieve their badges doing voluntary work at Slaithwaite Spa.
Volunteers from Huddersfield company Cummins Turbo Technologies have also chipped in, helping to clear invasive rhododendrons.
The Friends of Slaithwaite Spa were awarded a Colne Valley Star Award recently at a celebration at Marsden Mechanics to recognise the great voluntary work going on in the Colne Valley.
FoSS community engagement officer Andy Clark said: “We continue to ensure the drainage channel is kept clear of leaves and mud, the path to Manchester Road is kept clear of brambles and nettles and generally try to keep the vegetation under control during our monthly meet-ups.
“When it’s finished, the meandering path will give much better accessibility.”
The path will also be wide enough for wheelchairs and it’s eventually hoped to turn it into a sensory trail.
The group has just been given funding to buy a notice board for the park.
Andy added: “Future plans include bulb planting in the autumn and long term we are keen to develop more creative play structures and possibly even some raised beds. We also welcome cuttings of plants to help ensure the park has colour all year round.”
FoSS meets on the first Saturday of every month from 10am to 12noon and on the third Sunday of the month from 2pm to 4pm.
More volunteers are always needed … but the work doesn’t have to be gruelling.
Andy said: “We’re very much on the look-out for new people to attend our community meet-ups. We offer gentle gardening at all levels and for all ages. It’s a great way to get out more in the Colne Valley, meet new local people and enjoy a tea or coffee and cake with us.”
The Friends of Slaithwaite Spa Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/slaithwaitespa/
You can contact the group by phoning 07949 330712 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.