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South Park, Snipe House Pond Circular

Type:Walking Route

The Teesdale Way, Parkside Road, DL1 5TG
South Park in Darlington at sunrise

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South Park, Snipe House Pond Circular - 3km of urban fringe exploring between town and country. Surfaced or grass paths, sometimes muddy after rain.

Distance - miles (km): 3km

Recommended start / finish point(s): Start at Parkside Raod, NZ 283 133.

Access / path surfaces: Surfaced or grass paths, sometimes muddy after rain.

Main features of interest:

In his will, dated 1636, Sir James Bellasses left a 10ha copyhold farm, Poor Howdens Farm, to the town for charitable purposes. In March 1850, the trustees of the charity recommended that the greater part of the farm 'be used as a park or promenade and a recreation ground for the public at large'. The suggestion was confirmed at a public meeting and in 1851 the land, now the southern part of South Park, was leased to the Board of Health for twenty-one years. The trustees contributed £100 towards its laying out and further funds came from Joseph Pease of Hutton Hall. The park, named Bellasses Park, was opened two years later. A new lease was negotiated when the first came to an end, then in 1877 the Corporation purchased the site for £3075. Under their ownership it became known as People's Park and then South Park.  It was the first public recreational park in the north of England.

It was known originally as Belasses Park, then the People’s Park. Eventually, it came to be called South Park, and currently extends to some 26 hectares (91 acres). It has always been a popular recreational venue and, after recent Heritage Lottery funding, is more attractive than ever – playing host to regular concerts and other events. It boasts a lake, bandstand, skateboard park, games area, education centre, café, and rock, rose and sensory gardens. There is also, of course, the famous aviary – once the home of Max the foul-mouthed parrot!

It has trees planted in 1863 to commemorate the marriage of Prince Edward, later King Edward VII, and for the coronation of George V in 1911.

It is a magnificent example of the very best type of Victorian municipal park, and is Grade II registered 

The riverside path along the Skerne to Snipe Pond is a good place to spot kingfishers and moorhens and goosanders have also been seen there.

Snipe Pond is a locally important fishing site looked after by the Friends of Snipe Pond community group. The group have created new wildflower meadows, a pocket park and help to manage the site through vegetation control, improving paths and litter picking. The pond itself was part of a Victorian sewage treatment works, acting as a settlement pond. Some of the original machinery can still be seen.


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