Hope Bank Pleasure Grounds

by | Jul 30, 2020 | History & Heritage

Some of our older residents, or those with parents or grandparents who grew up in Honley are probably aware that there used to be a pleasure ground in Honley. If, however, you’ve arrived in Honley in more recent times, you might not know that people from miles around visited our village for our famed Hope Bank Pleasure Ground.

Hope Bank, which you’ll find sandwiched between New Mill Road and Woodhead Road, is now home to Replan. At the turn of the last century, however it was known as the Banks Estate and in 1895 a gentleman called John Mellor opened the Pleasure Grounds on the land.

Born in Honley, John lived and travelled extensively before returning to his roots after suffering ill health. He acquired the 50-acre site but only around 30 acres were usable due to the rest being too wet or steep. This was more than enough room however to provide entertainment for the crowds each day.

In those days, with few private vehicles most people relied on the trains for transport. With Honley and Brockholes train stations both within a mile, Hope Bank had excellent transport links. This made it the perfect day out for local people – especially as travel to places further afield was unaffordable for most families – and the most exciting entertainment around.

There was a lake offering fishing, boating and paddling. There was even an old paddle boat, which used to grace the lakes in the Lake District. A small railway, beautiful gardens and picnic areas with a café and ice cream stall provided refreshments. Meanwhile, among other entertainment, visitors could enjoy the roller-skating rink, donkey rides, zip wire, helter-skelter, house of mirrors and swings. There was also a Hotel on site so people could while away a weekend taking in the full extent of the offering. For all intents and purposes it was the Alton Towers of its day.

Hope Bank remained open throughout the First World War, albeit in a reduced capacity. John Mellor and his wife sadly both died in 1927, however his son took over the reins and during one carnival and gala event in 1928, the park reached a peak crowd of more than 25,000 visitors during a single week: unprecedented crowds for the day.

Over the next few years Hope Bank Pleasure Grounds’ popularity waned, and during the Second World War II, was requisitioned by the army until 1946.

The Pleasure Grounds were sold in 1946 by auction. The new owner made valiant efforts to revive Hope Banks flagging fortunes, adding exciting extras including dodgems, miniature railway and a zoo. One day a bear escaped, but that’s a story for another day. By 1950, Hope Bank Pleasure Grounds finally closed its doors to visitors.

While many a Honley resident may remember visiting Hope Bank with fondness, there is no longer a single trace of what was once the most popular attraction around.