Roundhay Park in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, is one of the biggest city parks in Europe. It has over 700 acres (2.8 km 2) of parkland, lakes, woodland and gardens which are owned by Leeds City Council. The park is one of the most popular attractions in Leeds, nearly a million people visit each year. It is situated on the north-east edge of the city, bordered by the suburb of Roundhay to the west and Oakwood to the south.

Originally, Roundhay Park was a hunting park for the De Lacy family during the 13th Century. William the Conqueror granted the estate to Ilbert De Lacy for his loyalty to the king. It passed by succession to John of Gaunt and thereby to his son, Henry IV. Henry VIII gave the park (though not the manor) to the Darcy family whence it passed by succession and marriage to Lord Stourton. The estate was purchased from later Lord Stourton by Thomas Nicholson and Samuel Elam in 1803. Nicholson took the Northern part which is now Roundhay Park. The lands taken over by Thomas Nicholson had the remains of quarries and coal mines, which were disguised by the construction of two lakes, the Upper Lake and the Waterloo Lake. A mansion house (see below) was built in the period 1811 to 1826 with a view over the Upper Lake. He also constructed a folly, a mock castle. The Nicholson family was also responsible for building the Church of St John, almshouses and a school on the south side of the park. Following the death of Thomas Nicholson in 1821, the estate passed to his half brother Stephen Nicholson, and following his death in 1858, Stephen's nephew William Nicholson Nicholson inherited the park. In 1871 three years of the death of William Nicholson, Roundhay park was put up for sale and was purchased for £139,000 by a group including the Mayor of Leeds John Barran, then purchased by Leeds City Council for the same sum, and given to the people of Leeds as a Park. At the time Roundhay was over 3 miles (4.8 km) away from Leeds and the council was unable to purchase such a large tract of land without an Act of Parliament, which was obtained on 21 June 1871. George Corson, a major Leeds architect, won the competition for the landscaping of the park. Other parts of the Park were sold as building plots which helped to reimburse the council and Barran for their outlay. Prince Arthur officially re-opened the park as a public estate in 1872 in front of 100,000 people. In 1891 the first public electric tram with overhead power (trolley system) in Britain was inaugurated, linking the city centre with Roundhay Park. The tram terminus is now a car park, but some of the trolley poles are still there.

Tropical World
A set of glasshouses with areas representing different climates from around the world, with the largest collection of tropical plants in the UK outside of Kew Gardens. It includes a butterfly house and aquariums. There are many birds and some reptiles living free inside, and many other animals in enclosures. A nocturnal house has creatures such as bats who are active at night. Tropical World is within the Canal Gardens, and separated by Street Lane from the main area of the park. Rob Peacock, when reviewing tropical world for, explained that "it might be looking a touch shabby in places, but for value for money you can’t go wrong" . The main building is Coronation House, so named from the original 1911 building, the year of the coronation of George V. The present construction was built in 1939 and modernized in 1983, re-opening as Tropical World. In July 2008 it was renamed The Arnold and Marjorie Ziff Tropical World. Arnold Ziff gave £30,000 towards the launch of Tropical World.


Canal Gardens
There are three main parts to this. Firstly a grassed area of mature trees (which are decorated with lights around Christmas). Secondly, flower gardens along a rectangular lake 350 feet (107 m) by 34 feet (10 m) with arches so that it resembles (but is not actually) part of a canal, hence the name, dating from 1833. Thirdly, a walled garden (built c. 1816, originally a vegetable garden for the Mansion House) which contains a major collection of roses, and provides the entrance to Tropical World. The Canal Gardens are to the west of the main area of the park, separated from it by Prince's Avenue.

Monet Garden
This is a path leading to the Alhambra garden, planted 1999 in homage to Claude Monet's painting of his garden path at Giverny (1902). It leads north from Mansion Lane, to the north of the main area of the park.

Alhambra Garden
This is an area with a central rectangular pond with fountains, inspired by a similar water feature at the Generalife in the Alhambra in Spain. It is to the north of Mansion Lane, north of the main area of the park.

The Friends Garden (meaning the Friends of Roundhay Park) is a secluded one off the rose garden of Canal Gardens. There are gardens for blind people with scented plants and braille inscriptions.


Thomas Nicholson had planned to make a third lake in a hollow which is now the Arena, but had died before doing so. In 1894, it was converted into a sports arena with cycle track, providing work for unemployed people in Leeds. . It is overlooked by a mound known as Hill 60, which was so named to commemorate Leeds soldiers who died in First World War battles around Hill 60 near Ypres. It can hold over 100,000 people. This was the location of large concerts by The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Simple Minds, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Madonna, Level 42, Genesis, Robbie Williams, U2 & Cast, among others. In the summer, it is used as a cricket pitch.

List of concerts

A folly built in 1812 by local master builder George Nettleton to give the appearance of a castle gate. It originally had a wooden roof and an upper room, and was used as a summerhouse, a sewing room for the Nicholson girls, and for social functions such as dinners.

Soldiers' Field
So called because it was the gathering place for troops in the First World War. Huge playing fields next to the park which have hosted many large-scale annual events such as Leeds Mela, and the Love Parade. Aviation pioneer Robert Blackburn conducted test flights of his aircraft in 1909 and in 1919 established a small airport here, with flights to London and Amsterdam. There is a golf course and tennis courts, as well as the use of Soldiers Field and the Arena for sports events.


Upper Lake
The smaller of the two lakes, featuring impressive fountains, an island and a waterfall that leads down to Waterloo lake via a ravine. It is five acres in extent, but only 3 to 4 feet deep. The Upper Lake is on much higher ground then Waterloo Lake. The Lake was once abundant with White-Clawed Crayfish ( Austropotamobius pallipes) but soon started to die out, Crayfish were reintroduced and can now once again be found in the upper lake.

Waterloo Lake
Constructed by soldiers who had returned from the Napoleonic wars and thus named after the Battle of Waterloo. They were unemployed, so Thomas Nicholson provided work and income to landscape a former quarry. It took two years to build, has an average depth of 60 feet (18 m) deep and covers 33 acres (0.13 km 2). It was originally used for boating, and for a period there were trips around it in a steamboat called the Maid of Athens (which was sunk in the lake at the end of its useful life ). In 1900 this was replaced by an electric launch, the Mary Gordon, which operated until 1923. A cafe was constructed above the boathouse. The lake is now used for fishing, but not boating. The lower part ends in a dam which was once a waterfall but is now a steep grassy bank.

The Mansion
The Mansion House is a large stone two- and three-storey house in Greek Revival style with a view over the Upper Lake, built from 1811 to 1826. It was built for Thomas Nicholson and his wife Elizabeth, who took up residence in 1816. It had three carriage houses and stabling for 17 horses. It was bought by the City of Leeds in 1871, and the sale document noted that the principal rooms on the ground floor were 13 feet high, and on the first floor were 17 bedrooms and 2 water-closets. It was leased out by the Council as a hotel and restaurant, being a popular place for weddings, receptions and dances until its closure in 2004 for renovation, with a view to conversion into Council offices. This caused some controversy and opposition. In November 2007 the rear wings of the building were opened again after an £8 million refurbishment as an Education and Visitor Centre and offices for park staff. In August 2009 Leeds based Dine catering reopened the cafe and function rooms, after substantial refurbishment.

  • At the South end of Waterloo Lake is a dam. In 1907 an open-air swimming pool was constructed below it. It was known as a lido and was particularly popular in the 1950s but was closed and filled in during the 1970s. The area is now a car park, still signposted 'Lido'.
  • In 1976, Peter Sutcliffe (or the Yorkshire Ripper) attempted the murder of Marcella Claxton and a year later murdered Irene Richardson at Roundhay Park.
  • In June 2005, two teenagers drowned in Waterloo Lake.
  • In January 2007, The Lakeside Café was extensively damaged by fire. Following complete renovation including a new roof, it has reopened.
  • Jimmy Savile OBE's residence overlooks Roundhay Park.
  • Each bonfire night a firework display is held at Roundhay Park with people gathering there from all around Leeds to stand by the fire and watch.
  • A £1 dotto train links the Mansion House with the Lakeside Cafe and Children's Play Area.
  • The park is accessed by First Leeds services 2 and 12 (Red and Blue lines).
  • The last concert of Bruce Springsteen's landmark European Born in the U.S.A. ended here in Roundhay park on July 7th 1985.

Date Tour / Event Name Band Attendance Reference 25/07/1982 Rolling Stones European Tour 1982 The Rolling Stones 120,000+ 29/08/1983 Gary Glitter 07/07/1985 Born in the U.S.A. Tour Bruce Springsteen 80,000 28/06/1987 Invisible Touch Tour Genesis 15/08/1987 Who's That Girl World Tour Madonna 73,000 29/08/1988 Bad World Tour Michael Jackson 60,000 23/07/1989 Street Fighting Years Tour Simple Minds 31/07/1992 We Can't Dance Tour Genesis 16/08/1992 Dangerous World Tour Michael Jackson 100,000 14/08/1993 Zoo TV Tour U2 07/07/1994 - 10/07/1994 Heineken Music Festival Various including The Saw Doctors, The Stranglers, The Wedding Present, Chumbawamba, Kingmaker, Elastica, Back to the Planet, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Buzzcocks, Mike + The Mechanics, The Pogues Heineken Music Festival 20/07/1995 - 23/07/1995 Heineken Music Festival Various including Siouxsie & The Banshees, Aswad, Tom Robinson, Squeeze, Michelle Shocked, The Chieftans, Pop Will Eat Itself, John Otway 28/08/1997 PopMart Tour U2 08/07/2000 Love Parade Various including Carl Cox, Danny Rampling, Dave Pearce, David Morales, Sasha, Timo Maas 300,000 08/09/2006 Close Encounters Tour Robbie Williams 69,000 09/09/2006 Close Encounters Tour Robbie Williams 69,000

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