A corner of yorkshire WATERLOO LAKE, LEEDS
At more than 700 acres Roundhay
Park in Leeds is the biggest municipal space in the UK and twice the size of London’s Hyde Park. In medieval times the land was a round enclosure or “hay” for keeping deer, but by the early 19th century it was the site of quarries and coal mines owned by Thomas Nicholson.
After the Napoleonic Wars, Nicholson provided work for returning soldiers by paying them to construct two lakes, the bigger of them being Waterloo Lake named after the final battle. It took two years to build.
When the park was put up for sale in 1871 it was bought by the Major of Leeds, John Barran, founder of the world’s offthe-peg clothing industry, for £127,000, then sold on to Leeds Corporation.
The lake was – and still is – used for boating, and for many years plied by a steamboat called the Maid of Athens. A popular café (pictured) was constructed above the boathouse.