History of John Leigh Park
On Sunday 4th June 2017, The Friends of John Leigh Park (FoJLP) along with the local community will be celebrating 100 years since its benefactor Sir John Leigh purchased and donated the large derelict Oldfield Hall Estate to Altrincham District Council for use as a park. Since this time it has been actively used by the community becoming an essential part of their lives.
In order to mark this special occasion the FoJLP decided that they would like to learn more about the history of the park to share with the community in time for the Big Centenary Lunch. The results have been not only interesting but full of surprises. By looking at historical documents, photographs, maps, newspapers and also speaking to local residents the Friends have been able to build up a picture of the history of this magnificent park.
The origins of Oldfield Hall begin in Elizabethan time with the first owners by the name of Parker. In fact, a living reminder of this time still remains in the guise of a Pedunculate Oak, dated to be approximately 400 years old. Perhaps planted in an act of defiance against Cromwell by a member of the Meredith family, the second owners of the Hall who were loyal supporters of the Crown.
During the research process the lives of these people began to unfold and we were able to rejoice and share in their success or feel their grief and loss during difficult times. Of course, reminders of these people and their stories remain with us today in a tangible form. There are memorial windows left by family members and graves located at three local churches. Some of the owners of Oldfield Hall were 'Manchester Men' whose significant contributions helped to build the burgeoning manufacturing industry in Manchester.
The Oldfield Hall Estate changed hands seven times before finally being purchased by Cotton Industrialist John Leigh (later Sir John Leigh) thus breaking a long debate in the local press about the suitability of the Estate as "Home for Heroes" to provide quality homes for those men returning from the Great War or to be developed as a public park. The debate raged for sometime before being broken by Sir John Leigh who purchased the property. Lady Stamford, the widow of William Grey, the 10th Earl of Stamford proved her worth and also donated land to the community of equal value and size in order to provide four hundred houses for working class people. This area, built on 'garden city lines' is the Oldfield Brow Estate.