The small triangular park area on Leeman Road, across from the Memorial Gardens, was mentioned on the previous page. It’s pictured above in spring 1983.
A comparison view, how it looks now, in spring 2021.
In the 1983 photo, a profusion of flowers around a pond, which appears to have a fountain in the centre of it. Benches and bins and fancy lampposts are symmetrically arranged around it.
Over the years various flowerbeds have been removed and turfed over, there’s now only a couple of the lampposts, the bins have gone and so have the benches. There are still flowers, but far fewer, and confined to the narrow beds by the paving. The paving is no longer ‘crazy paving’, but tarmac.
These changes have taken place in stages, over the years, and were presumably intended to keep maintenance costs down. I’ve written about it before, some years back.
Despite all the changes , the pond is still there. Recent research led me to thinking more about it: why it’s there, whether anyone notices it much. It has been difficult to find information online about this small triangular park, which is why I included the earlier page, and why I wanted to revisit.
Before the park and the pond
Previously this triangular area appears to have been covered with trees and shrubs, as shown in this old postcard of the area.
The pond in particular
When looking at the old maps of the area for the previous piece, I noticed that a fish pond was marked on the 1931 map.
Judging by its rather distinctive shape, it’s the same pond.
So the trees and shrubs were cleared to make way for a formal pond, a fish pond, which evidence suggests has been there for more than 90 years.
Quite a ‘historic feature’ then. Perhaps it was constructed when the Memorial Gardens across the road were laid out.
I thought I’d revisit the area, to focus on the fish pond, and possibly peer into it.
One person walked through the park while I was there, but otherwise it was empty. Perhaps because there are no benches to sit on, and the grass was too damp to sit on. A few geese were wandering about in the evening sunshine.
I wondered why the pond was still here. I thought I’d heard that it was going to be filled in. I doubted very much that it had fish in it.
I peered into it.
It looked better than I was expecting. Water lily leaves, other aquatic plants. A bit of movement of the leaves, in the breeze … but wait, a fish! There’s a fish!
Not your haddock kind of fish, obviously, but one of those small ‘ornamental’ ones, a little fishy, dark coloured, gliding about in there. (Apologies that there’s no photo, I can’t do underwater photography.)
There appeared to be several fish. I wandered around the edge and peered in from various angles, and was quite enchanted by it briefly.
It just shows that it’s important to fact check, and do a site visit if possible. When I first started to draft the text for this page I’d been convinced that there couldn’t possibly be any fish in the so-called fish pond. Mainly because I remember a big fiery beacon being lit on the plinth in the middle of the pond, back in 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day.
It seemed at the time a strange site to choose.
There weren’t many of us there that evening, partly perhaps because the publicity about it referred to this place ‘Triangular Gardens’, and no one knew where that was.
But a comment added to a Press article the next day suggests that at least one member of the public was aware of the fish in the fish pond:
‘there was no consideration for the pond over which the beacon was built. This morning what was once a pleasant small pond full of fish was left as a blackened stagnant pool of water full of burnt bits of wood.’
Notes and queries
I know very little about fish, and their needs and preferences, beyond the obvious need to be in water. I wonder how they’ve survived in there all this time, and are presumably breeding, as it’s hard to imagine new fish have been added to a pond in a park that has clearly been modified to make it ‘low maintenance’.
When I wrote about the park six years ago I thought the pond should be removed, partly because it’s not very wildlife-friendly, with those curved concrete edges. Partly because it seemed to be just a thing in the way, in the middle of the path going straight across. If you can’t sit on a bench by it and look at it, what’s the point of it?
But now, having realised that it’s quite a historic structure, and that it does have life in it, I wonder why more hasn’t been made of it, and the area around it. Why everything has been simplified down to very little left. It may not be the most pleasant place to sit during the day when the traffic’s heavy, but there was very little traffic around in the evening when I was there, and it might have been nice perhaps to sit on a bench by the pond, like people used to, back in the old days of the 1980s.
And a fountain?
The 1983 photos show that it appears to have had a fountain in the middle of it. The figure is possibly a flying Mercury? Similar to the one in Rowntree Park? I wonder what happened to it.
I can’t help thinking about the fountain in Parliament Street, and how many people were upset when it was removed, even though it was a relatively recent addition, and not particularly attractive. Meanwhile, completely under the radar, apparently generally unnoticed and unappreciated, this rather more historic structure, designed as a centrepiece, and appreciated in the past.
The park and its pond were clearly appreciated by my Dad, who took those photos of it one day in 1983, presumably after leaving work at the nearby railway offices.
Time to leave the park and its histories, noticing on the way that its low boundary wall still has the small stumps of the railings that once surrounded it.
If you have any information to add, comments are welcome below.
. . . . .
One walk in early May, with the purpose of looking at one building, has led to several pages, many connections, as so often happens. It’s all connected. Particularly perhaps here in the railway part of town.
We’re about to go through one of the arches in the walls to look at the building I was aiming for before all these diversions. More on that story later. In the meantime, thanks for your virtual coffees in support of these local ramblings.