HISTORY OF WILTON PARK
Wilton Park was originally the grounds of a Gothic mansion, known as Woodlands. The mansion was built in 1876 as a family home for local mill-owner and businessman George Sheard.
Woodlands was a comfortable home and the Sheards lived there until George’s death in 1902. His widow moved out and the house was offered for sale. The asking price of £3000 was obviously a huge amount at that time, and the house remained unsold and empty for several years.
In 1909 the estate was auctioned without a reserve price and, with the agreement of local businessmen, it was sold to Charles Robinson, a local mill-owner, for £5. He then gave it to Batley Corporation to add to some land given by the Earl of Wilton, providing Batley with a public park. Walter Bagshaw, a local businessman, was asked to furnish one room in Woodlands as a museum, and in 1911 Wilton Park Museum was opened to the public with Walter Bagshaw as curator. When he died in 1927, the museum was renamed Bagshaw Museum. The Park continued as Wilton Park and has remained so to the present day.
The change from private ownership saw the construction of the bowling greens and tennis courts, together with a paddling pool and lots of new planting around the site. There was once a railway line through the site, parallel to the main road. This was closed many years ago, but its path is evident, as is the bridge which is directly in front of the main entrance.
The larger and more formal park can be found at the bottom of the slope alongside Bradford Road. This area is home to most of the main attractions in the park including the large lake which is home to hundreds of water birds, the children's play area (on the site of the original paddling pool), the bowling greens and tennis courts, the skate park, and the Swan Lake café.