Oak Hill Park

History of Oak Hill Park


The Oak Hill estate dates back to the middle of the eighteenth century and belonged to the Woodward Family. In 1815 the land was leased and subsequently purchased by Thomas Hargreaves, head of the Broad Oak Print Works. The present mansion was built soon after the purchase of the land. Thomas died in 1822 and the house was passed onto Thomas’s youngest son, Jonathan, who enlarged the mansion, by addition of a further wing. Jonathan Hargreaves left the area in the 1850’s and Oak Hill was let to a number of tenants over the following three decades. In 1889 the estate belonged to Jonathan’s son Reginald Gervis Hargreaves, who was married to Alice Liddell, the model for Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. The town council during Reginald’s ownership began the lengthy negotiations to acquire Oak Hill Park. Surprisingly opposition for the Council’s takeover came from the members of the public who were in favour of another site, namely the Coppice on Avenue Parade.Oak Hill Park Mansion

The original price was £11,000, one and three quarter old pence per square yard. The Council requested a price of one and a quarter old pence per square yard. The public opinion on the park was divided, although a majority of the Council was in favour of the venture. Having failed to negotiate a realistic price for the land, the Council held a vote amongst the ratepayers of the borough on the 29 September, 1890 to ascertain the worthiness of the scheme due to the high expenditure the acquisition would involve. From the 8500 voting papers sent out, 5712 returned, 3244 were for, 1958 were against and 463 returned blank. The price agreed was £9,591 the one and half-old pence per square yard finally agreed with Reginald Gervis Hargreaves returning £1,000 to help with the refurbishment of the grounds.

Work commenced in July 1892 on preparing the estate for opening as a park and by the spring of 1893 work was almost complete. The grand opening scheduled for Whit Monday 22 May 1893 went ahead as planned with a street party atmosphere amongst the crowds that gathered.