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Northcliffe Park was opened to the public 100 years ago, in 1920

Norman RaeThe reason we have the wonderful woods and meadows, the allotments and other spaces is down two factors. 

One is that in 1918 the Rosse family, who were major landowners in and around Shipley, hence the name of the Rosse pub in Saltaire, decided to sell up and concentrate on their family lands in Birr, Ireland. The land was divided into development plots for housing and put up for auction. The plots that covered Northcliffe Woods and Northcliffe Park were not sold. 

The second is that the newly elected Shipley MP Sir Norman Rae offered to buy the land and give it to Shipley Town Council to be used as a public space for the people of Bradford. 

Once the land was handed over the Town Council did a lot of work to change the area from a farming and a mining area to make it suitable for use as a park. It was opened in 1920 with a grand ceremony and continued to be developed during the 1920s with Tennis courts, bowling greens, pitch and putt, hockey, football and cricket pitches along with bandstands for free concerts. 

Sir Norman Rae was a mill owner, with mills in Bradford and Batley (where he was born) and business offices in Australia. He used his wealth to support local schools and businesses,  gave land to Northcliffe Golf Club and had the Norman Rae Nursing Home built, now Shipley Hospital which is currently now being closed down. He was known as the benefactor of Shipley.

If you want to know more about Sir Norman Rae, a book can be obtained from FON for £5 click here for the Friends of Northcliffe website.

There is a chapter in the forthcoming heritage report of Northcliffe about the development of the park over its 100 years and this will be uploaded when it is completed.

We would have been celebrating this all year but our plans have been put on hold until next year.