Henry Frederick Beaumont and the gift of Beaumont Park

                                                               Henry Beaumont

Henry Frederick Beaumont was born in Scarborough on 10th March 1833.  He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in 1852.  Between 1855 and 1856 he studied practical farming in the Lothians.  He married Maria Joanna Garforth on 1st September 1857 and together they raised eight daughters and two sons.

Henry served as a Liberal MP for the southern division of the West Riding (1865-1874) and for Colne Valley (1885-1892).  He was an Honorary Colonel of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, West Riding Division, and Deputy Lieutenant of the West Riding County of York.  He was known for his love of all field sports, and ranked high among the game shots of his day.

On inheriting the Whitley Beaumont Estates, he lived at Whitley Beaumont, a 16th century house, since demolished, situated two miles east of Kirkheaton.  Henry left Huddersfield for Ascot in the latter part of the 19th century.  He died in 1913.

In May 1879, noting that Huddersfield (population 35,000) did not have a public park, Henry offered 30 acres of his land in Crosland Moor, known as the Rifle Ground, to the Council, for the creation of a public park and recreation ground.  The Council accepted the offer on condition that the site was found to be satisfactory, but the committee of Aldermen appointed to investigate judged that the site was insufficiently accessible.  (Part of this first site is now occupied by Crosland Moor Airfield.)  The difficulties were discussed with the prospective benefactor, who agreed to the Council’s request for land at Dungeon Wood - although, this land being more valuable, he was only able to offer 20 acres plus four fields.

At the Council meeting of 8th August, Henry's offer was finally accepted.  A Deed of Conveyance was signed in November 1879, and the newly formed Park Committee resolved to name the Park ‘Beaumont Park’, hoping that this name would be perpetual.

The ceremonial cutting of the first sod took place on 29th May 1880.  It was a big occasion, and thousands turned out to line the route of the procession from the Town Hall to the Park and to hear the speeches.  The procession included the Mayor and Mayoress of Huddersfield (Alderman and Mrs Walker), Henry Frederick and his wife,  Yorkshire Yeoman Cavalry, Holmfirth and Mirfield Corps of Volunteers, Councillors, the Police, the Fire Brigade and the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes.  Linthwaite Band played.  At the edge of the Wood, a small field was set out with a grandstand and a tent.  A crimson carpet led from the tent to a fenced enclosure, where the first piece of turf to be cut had been prepared and marked with four flags.  The Mayor presented Mrs Beaumont with a silver spade on behalf of the Corporation, and with it she lifted the first sod.  It was ceremonially placed on the Deed held by her husband, who handed it to the Mayor saying, “Mr Mayor, by this Deed I grant, and with this sod, in the name of the whole, I deliver possession to you, as representative of the town, of the lands described in the Deed for the purposes of a Public Park for the inhabitants of Huddersfield for ever.”

During the course of a long address, punctuated by much cheering from the crowds, Henry also said, “I have long seen that your town has needed a park, and it gives me great pleasure to place at your disposal the very best site at my command.  In my opinion public parks and open spaces are almost necessities to large and populous towns; they tend to increase the happiness of all – young and old, rich and poor.  They help to develop the frame and constitution of the young and promote the general health of the people.”

The Mayor replied, expressing deep gratitude for the gift of land.  Later that evening,  the cutting of the sod was celebrated with a banquet at the Council Offices.

In appreciation of the generosity of the patrons of the new Park, stone heads of Mr and Mrs Beaumont were carved and built into its impressive lower gateway.  The heads have now been moved and can be seen overlooking the restored fountain and cascade.

For his gift of Beaumont Park, Henry Frederick Beaumont was awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Huddersfield in 1894.  The names Henry Frederick and Henry Ralph, his son, are commemorated in the street names of the area.