Map 10

Meanwood Park

In Spring 2016, we began to explore Meanwood Park in the north of Leeds. The aim of our exploration was to make a book and a theatre piece about the area’s history and heritage. The park lies four miles north of Leeds City Centre and originally opened in 1922. Much of the land that it now covers was formerly the estate of Meanwoodside – a large private house belonging to the Kitson Clark family. The estate was bought by Leeds City Council in 1954 and has been open to the public ever since. Today, the park covers 72 acres and includes a wide variety of different environments – mixed woodland, open meadows, a beck, several ponds and mires, a children’s playground and various picnic spots.

Over the course of several months, we ran a series of walks with local residents and organised visits to Leeds Museums Discovery Centre and The University of Leeds to view their collections and talk with experts. We also visited older people at nearby lunch clubs to gather stories about the park in times past and went out walking with children from Meanwood CE Primary School to see what they thought about the park as it is today. On Wednesday evenings, we ran a series of writing workshops in the Ranger’s Hut in the car park, with a small group of local writers. These activities led to the creation of a book and a site-specific theatre performance.

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Photography by Lizzie Coombes

Ways Through the Wood is a choose-your-own-adventure book which is set in Meanwood Park and The Hollies. The book was launched at East of Arcadia on May 29th 2016, as part of Meanwood Festival. Five hundred copies were printed and distributed to people in the local area. To accompany the book, we commissioned a sound piece by local artists Jonathan Lindh and Simon Bradley. Some of the creative writing pieces and the full recording are included below.


Way Through the Woods is a site-specific performance that took place in Meanwood Park in June 2016. It was created in collaboration with writer Peter Spafford, choreographer Vanessa Grasse. The piece was based around the story of Major Harold Brown. Major Brown’s father owned The Hollies estate, adjacent to Meanwood Park. The estate was gifted to the city of Leeds in 1921 as a memorial to their son, who was killed in action in the First World War.

Performers were:
Kirsty Arnold, Matthew Bellwood, Alison Grace Clissold, Anthony Haddon, Jaye Kearney, Matilde Torres Laborde, Shona Mackay, Daniel Marcus, Carol Sorhaindo, Laurie Spafford, Oscar Stafford, Sing Meanwood

Conceived and directed by Alison Andrews, Matthew Bellwood and Peter Spafford
Composer and choral director Beccy Owen
Design Kelly Jago
Graphic Design Amy Levene
Photography Lizzie Coombes
Administration and Publicity Mel Purdie, Anna Turzinsky
Production Management Dave Glenister
Assistants Florence Simms, Jo Ellis
Produced by A Quiet Word
Sculptures designed by Year 6 pupils at Meanwood C of E Primary School

Thanks to:
The Bay Horse, Beck Arts, East of Arcadia, Fobi, Friends of The Hollies, Holy Trinity Church Lunch Club, InterACT Church and Community Partnership, Meanwood Valley Partnership, Meanwood Festival, Leeds Libraries and Information Service, The Leeds Library, Leeds Museums Discovery Centre, Leeds Parks and Gardens, Meanwood Café, Meanwood Fellowship, Meanwood Primary School, The Myrtle Tavern, Sing Meanwood, Stainbeck Church Lunch Club, The University of Leeds

Jean Barker, Avril and Brian Bellwood, Lis Bertolla, Christine Bewell, Simon Bradley, Vanessa Brown, Revd Kingsley Dowling, Alison Fell, Mary Greenwood, Gabrielle Hamilton, John Hepworth, Ross Horsley, Steve Joul, Andrew Kyrover, Jonathan Lindh, Linda Marshall, Ann Matthews, Clare Morgan, Lucy Nokes, Julian Oxley, Kitty Ross, Cynthia Ruston, Doug Sandle, Peter Smithson, Colin Speakman, Arthur Stafford, Doreen Wood

28) 28th January
There is a pair of underpants in the tree beside the park. They flutter in the breeze – all clean and white and full of promises.

Sound portrait of the Park

This is a sound portrait of the park made using recordings taken in April and May 2016. we have considered the following in creating the piece:

  • People at play
  • The history of land use in the park and valley.
  • The natural elements of woods, beck and valley and the life they support.
  • The beck as the central unifying element in time and space in the past and present.
  • The sounds of our every day modern technological world and how they reside with the natural sounds of the park, and the sometimes subtle interplay between these ‘two worlds’.
  • The unique character of the park as a hidden gem of Leeds.

The recordings are edited and mixed but no electronic effects have been applied and were all carried out within the park with one exception. We were kindly allowed to carry out recordings at Kingfisher Lubrications further down Meanwood valley and connected to the park by the beck that runs past their works. It is a direct connection back to the industrial history of the park as the family business originated in 1867. There is a short extract from this recording session mixed in at one particular point.

Enjoy a sound walk through the park…

Jonathan and Simon

Sound design and recording by Jonathan Lindh and Simon Bradley

Beware of Rituals

Lucy Nokes

The plan was to organise our own, two-person retreat weekend at my place. No ordinary girly weekend for us; we were going to “Contemplate Existence” with the aid of Air, Water, Fire and Earth.

Things started chaotically when Jennifer got stuck in the hairdressers in Wales – she was four hours late and by the time she arrived I was onto the second bottle of wine. No matter. That night we did ‘Fire’ (by my fire) and we felt like we were getting into the zone.

The following morning, we completed our ‘Air’ ritual at 11.00am, followed by lunch with wine, and a showing of Man on Wire. In the late afternoon we set off to do ‘Water’ which we intended to carry out by following Meanwood Beck from my front door to the Ring Road and back.

Arriving at the point where the beck runs past the old cricket pitch, I gazed down into the culvert just in case there might be kingfishers, I saw them once at this point, scooting turquoise, gone before you could blink. I leaned over with my phone to take a photo of the stream. A thought floated up: ‘Wouldn’t it be awful if…?’ A split second later my phone was falling; a heartbeat further and it lay, in the stream, a long way down.

A voice was saying, ‘Ha! Do a water ritual, would you?’

Another voice was saying, ‘About 150 contact numbers and no back-up’.

My body, meanwhile, was clambering over the fence (the safety fence) and preparing to drop.

I was kind of wishing that I had a steady job and sick leave and that my back wasn’t so dodgy and all sorts of things like that, but, I dropped, straight into the water, spine intact, fished out the phone, and discovered that I was stuck. Very stuck. The wall really was sheer, and I could see no footholds at all. It took me about twenty minutes to get out again, scaling up via a not very friendly tree stump, landing behind yet another wall, and scrambling down another eight feet to get back to the path. Jennifer hugged me, the small group of interested passers-by dispersed and we proceeded to follow the beck to the Ring Road and back, whilst marvelling – I have never, ever dropped a phone before, and I had to do it during our ‘Water’ ritual, straight into Meanwood Beck.

We did ‘Earth’ the next day, back in the park, followed by Sunday lunch out. I found an old phone and the SIM card worked immediately, all of my contacts restored. I kept meaning to put the wet phone into salt, which apparently is what you do on these occasions, but didn’t get round to it. However, three days later I examined the phone and all was good – even my photos were intact. I had not lost a thing, but I discovered a new respect for calling upon Air, Earth, Fire and Water where Meanwood Beck is concerned. That stream is bigger, older and stronger than I or any of us. For years now it has been the background tempo of my life.

I backed up my contact list. You live and learn.

Choice of End – Summer Evening Tennis

John Hepworth

Ever left anything behind at the tennis court? How long did it take you to realise it was gone? Did somebody else find it and you never saw it again? It’s possible to go days without realising isn’t it? maybe weeks; even months – but how about a decade or more? How about getting on for half a century? Can’t’ve been anything that important then? No, I suppose that must be right; but things were different then, and there wasn’t that much to do on a Sunday evening.

Fish and chip shops were closed by a food-safety rule going back so far it didn’t include Chinese takeaways, so that’s where Sunday chips came from (and fish if you dared).You could have KFC (though we didn’t talk so much in three-letter abbreviations), yes spicy chicken, skin and all, from Headingley Arndale Centre that had been open for, ooh, more than five years – and giving the Methodists across the road a bowling alley to get agitated about instead of all those no-longer-well-tended big gardens. Forty-six years back, I mean.

But somehow not such another era – not like the 46 years before that, which – let me see – would be … 1970 … 1930 … six more … 1924 that would have been. Now that is proper historical time – or you’d think so – but what about just five years earlier than that: 1919? Had anyone started talking about those homes-fit-for-heroes by then, dreaming up the first council-housing? Plenty of that type of landscape had appeared on this side of the city by the time I was a Sunday-evening tennis player. Eventually the Seven Estates, sounding like something Plato might have taught his students, long before even the seven ages of man hit the stage.

A few families already had their homes-fit-for-heroes Meanwood-side, before the twentieth century had big wars to talk about. And a century before that, with houses you could bank on if your name was Beckett or Denison: grand places; but they didn’t have the wonderland around them that the spoils of war bestowed on the people of Leeds in the shape of The Hollies, with all its history and no shortage of mystery.

One of the species quick to settle-in with the re-greening of land, when it’s been quarried then developed by planting trees, is – guess what? Deer? … badgers? … earwigs? Well, the one I’m thinking of is the fairy-folk: they’ll come, and stay – as long as you have the water right – and the sound and the light. I think that’s what they judge a place by, and the right type of leafiness and varying degrees of seclusion. And here’s a word for anyone who thinks you don’t find the little people where the big people have been wounding the land: just take a look at a Leeds & Bradford Ordnance Survey map and here and there you’ll see where streams pass through wooded, stony, leafy places, actually named on the map as “Fairy Dell”, and each is where, previously, humans had their quarries. And a rule for maps and quarries is that wherever one or two made it onto the map there’ll have been dozens on the land. And of course we know places in our own locality that are home to magic no map mentions.

Still want to know what it was I left behind at the tennis court that June evening? Never gave it a thought till just lately. It was my interest in playing tennis – something I did quite frequently, then, suddenly (if that’s the word) never did again: not a decision, it just slipped away, unnoticed, dissolved into the greater meaningfulness of The Hollies’ tree-calmed air. Ever since, I’ve had plenty of other things to come here for; some of ’em not everyone can see: not with ordinary vision anyway.

The Hollies – and the Dales Way

Colin Speakman

There are times in one’s life where certain places take on special meaning. My wife and I first discovered The Hollies as young Leeds University students, in the innocence of first love, seeking beauty, peace, privacy. We discovered the rocky paths up from Meanwood Beck through a semi-wilderness of oak woods, bluebells, azaleas, tall and colourful primula candelabra. And then at the top of the woods, by the lawns and tennis courts, that huge and magical magnolia which each Spring – the start of a new academic term – was a glorious display of exotic bloom.

Each year it was somewhere to come back to, to rekindle memories – as young teachers, then with our children, as lecturers, writers. Even when we moved away from Leeds, we always returned and have done so over fifty years.

But in the late 60s The Hollies took on a new meaning. Fleur and I were involved in developing one of England’s most popular long distance footpaths, the Dales Way, an 80 mile walking route through the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District National Parks, from Ilkley to Bowness on Windermere.

From the very beginning the concept was to start from central Leeds – an extra 21 miles, Woodhouse Moor to Windermere – along what is now the Meanwood Valley Trail, a beautiful green corridor out of the city, to Adel Woods, then through Eccup, Bramhope, Otley Chevin, Burley Moor to Ilkley.

The highlight of the Dales Way Leeds Link is surely The Hollies. True the Dales Way itself follows the meandering Meanwood Beck along the valley floor, but an easy diversion into The Hollies proper to enjoy those still mysterious paths through ferns and azaleas, so glorious every Spring.
But for two people, a place intertwined with their lives, with memories.

A Walk in the Woods at Sunset

Bill Fitzsimmons

Do you sometimes walk at sunset
Through the long woods up beyond your house
Where the mournful owl swoops
Among the darkening trees?
Do you pause and listen to the rustle
And scurry of unseen feet, the various
Mutterings of the forest?
As the last light fades, do you
Feel suddenly afraid, yet strangely alert
To the nightlife around you?

If you do, you will know the electric thrill of freedom,
The elemental rush of tuned senses
As the soft night breezes ruffle your hair
And the mossy ground sinks beneath you.
The stars flicker above, seen intermittently
Through the lace trellis of the treetops,
And the moon casts a silver net of radiance.
Moon-moths brush against your cheek
And somewhere a night-bird calls a piercing note:
A sad, yet exhilarating, sound.

And you will know that you are in your rightful place,
At one with the forward momentum of life,
As the trees around you are anchored in the rich loam
Of the forest and the wind shakes your bones
With the knowledge if your affinity to the earth
Your dark and fertile mother.

The Meanwood “Grand Slam”

Doug Sandle

I am not very good at tennis, but nonetheless there were times, especially in the Summer after Wimbledon had finished, when inspired by real tennis players, I fancied I might be capable of playing a few games with friends. About 35 years ago, four of us decided on one bank holiday Monday to play a game of mixed doubles, and it was suggested that we try and find a free court at Meanwood Park. As we all lived closer to Cardigan Road than to Meanwood Road, we came into Meanwood by my car. The vehicle I had at that time was a Renault Hatchback (R16?), a car that for some reason seemed popular with teachers and lecturers. My first vehicles had been old battered Land Rovers, but the silver grey Renault was my first “proper” car, my pride and joy, and which at the time of the Meanwood tennis match I was still paying for on HP.

It was a hot sunny day, and we arrived at Meanwood Park quite early, there being no-one else playing at the courts. There was some maintenance and building work being done, and by the roadside and in a “siding” that is now the car park, there were some piles of sand, stones, bricks and a parked steam roller – the work abandoned temporarily for the day’s holiday. The tennis game was proceeding with its usual interruptions – contested decisions as to whether the ball was “in” or “out”, and the score being forgotten, – deliberately or through lack of concentration – all giving rise to arguments and the disintegration of what was supposed to be a proper match into a less formal knock-around. About forty minutes into the “game”, someone shouted over to us from the courts’ entrance. As he approached we gathered he was asking if any of us had a car – a silver grey one parked near the park’s entrance. “Is there a problem?” I asked. “I guess so,” he replied, “it’s been crushed by a steam roller!” We thought he was joking, but he insisted that it was the case.

And so it was. The car’s bonnet and front had been crunched and flattened, the lights and windows all smashed, and paint work elsewhere scraped and split. Evidently some young lads had broken into the steam roller, discovered the keys and decided to have a run around. They lost control and the steam roller mounted the parked car. When the flattened “heap” was transported to my usual garage near Woodhouse Street, the garage hands, much to my annoyance, just laughed (and it did look like something from a comic strip – Desperate Dan or the Bash Street Kids perhaps). I was not happy – I loved that car and it was obviously a write-off. However, surprisingly the garage mechanics saw it as something of a challenge and said they would have a go to see if they could restore it, as the engine was not too badly damaged and they would have a go with fixing and part replacing the body. To my amazement and relief, after a few weeks the Renault was back with me, looking as good as new. I can’t remember who was winning the game at the time – but it was certainly a Grand Slam!

Mourning Song

Liz Bertola

The Park is sleeping under its quilt of frost;
Stark trees mourn the leaves they have lost.
The hush of Winter lies heavy on the earth.

Birdsong is replaced by something more lonely.

She brings her grief here to weigh against
Nature’s mourning and finds reflection only;

She might have hoped for consolation, restoration.

Yet, beneath the surface
Life is not banished; it slumbers merely;

When she unveils the silent workings of the soul
She sees more clearly; she may find snowdrops
Pushing against the barriers of her heart …

How I lost my dog in The Hollies

Linda Marshall

Little Dougal, let off the lead, free
To scamper and follow his snout,
One minute here, the next vanished.
My heart, racing faster than he could,
Skipped more than a beat,
As I searched the winding paths,
Shook the azaleas and rose bushes,
Called him to no avail.
The grass tufts could sense my panic,
Dog gone missing in public park,
Full of hiding places,
Undergrowth, and perilous streams.
An hour spent scouring every inch,
I give up, tired, heavy
With foreboding, walk back home
And there he is, the little villain,
Sitting on the doorstep,
Tail wagging, happy to see me.
I never used to believe in miracles.


Map 10 News

Published on 27/05/2016

How I lost my dog in The Hollies

Published on 27/05/2016

Mourning Song

Published on 27/05/2016

The Meanwood “Grand Slam”

Published on 27/05/2016

A Walk in the Woods at Sunset

Published on 27/05/2016

The Hollies – and the Dales Way


secret fossils