The journalist Keith Waterhouse referred to the milestone in a colourful article he wrote for the Yorkshire Evening Post which was published on the 25th August 1950:

Park with petrified air of Sunday

LONDON has a Hyde Park and so has Leeds. They are not the same size; and though this local edition of the Park carries on its notice boards a yard of by-laws dealing with bathing offences, it has no Serpentine. It has not even a proper claim to the title of Hyde Park, for thought that is the name of the suburb in which it stands, its real name is Woodhouse Moor.

But for all that, the two Hyde Parks have a common bond. They both have the same spirit of cosmopolitanism, the same air of life at its most vital that you can find only in a park on Sunday mornings.

In Hyde Park, Leeds – or Woodhouse Moor if you will – there is a permanent atmosphere of Sunday morning petrified.

It may be one of the smallest and is certainly one of the scruffiest parks in Leeds – for it tapers off on one side, into that piece of land which is the real Woodhouse Moor, in the tradition of Hunslet and Holbeck Moors.

Circuses and swings

But on Woodhouse Moor Lord Mayors land in helicopters, circuses come to town and feasts pitch their swings and roundabouts. And at Hyde Park Corner, which is about the nearest Leeds will ever get to Marble Arch, there is one of the busiest traffic corners outside the city centre. It all helps with the atmosphere.

It is difficult to find out why this particular park is different from the other Leeds parks. The same women wheel the same prams and the same old men play bowls. The same couples spoon behind the rhododendrons, and about the bandstand the small boys frisk like puppies. But Hyde Park is one thing and Roundhay is another. How is it so?

One reason is the nearness to the city centre a mile away, which gives the park that bustling touch. The other is that Hyde Park has a past.

It is a red and gold past, written in the clip-clop and rumble of a coach and pair trotting through the trelliswork of avenues; and the secret of Hyde Park’s individuality is that some of the past is still alive.

To the crumbling fringes of its grassland there still clings some of the majesty of Queen Victoria’s day.

Victorian glimpses

There is still the belt of trees by the roadside – painted with white circles, like lamp standards, but still there – still the Grammar School on one side and the barracks on the other. And set in a bed of lupins, a statue of Victoria herself to help your vision of the sons of gentleman walking out in mortar-boards, and soldiers of the Queen with red coats and Malacca canes.

Even when you dwell in the past there is the same Sunday morning atmosphere that haunts the park today. From the centre of the road you can see the spires of seven churches.

How long this little bit of Leeds will keep its past around it in the face of progress is difficult to say.

The great levelling will take Hyde Park as it took the country house and the top hat. The trouble is that strolling through the park on a Sunday morning in Autumn it is difficult to believe it. There is a milepost there to say that London is 187 miles away; but none to say that Victoria and all her golden age is 50 years away.

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