Telling the story of Park life in Leeds

Researchers at the University of Leeds are working on a two-year AHRC funded project to find out what the 60 parks of Leeds mean to local people and they’re asking city residents to build up a picture of the social history of these green spaces.

The project is looking in detail at the role of public parks in the city now, as places for kids to play or for the popular park runs, compared to the purpose they served in the 19th and 20th centuries, when green spaces became treasured places for people to gather on high days and holidays. Results from the research will be feed into plans by Leeds City Council in terms of the future of parks in the city.

A key plank of the research will be the creation of a new digital archive of park life across Leeds, crowd sourcing recent and historical images from local people; helping to create a rich green space based social history.

University of Leeds historian Dr David Churchill, who is working on the project with colleagues at the University of Bradford, said: “The public parks we know today were bought by the council in Victorian times, when they were deemed important for public health due to their abundance of fresh air. In fact, parks were referred to as the ‘lungs of Leeds’, or as ‘ventilators’ of the city.

Dr Churchill continues: “Now we’re asking ‘what sort of relationship do people have with parks today?’ “We are interested in what the Leeds parks of the future might look like and what social purpose they will serve.

You can find out more about the project at Leeds Park Project

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