1700's Tithe map
Looking at the tithe map of the Harrogate and Bilton districts in 1700’s, it can be seen that at the western extremity of High Harrogate, what we now know as Skipton Road, was then called ‘World’s End Road’. Skipton Road was not recognised as such until it passed the major junction of today’s Ripon and Skipton Roads. By the late 1840’s a community was born at this junction and became known as New Park, primarily to provide amenities for the villages of Harrogate. Early maps show that all these communities; High and Low Harrogate, Bilton and New Park were separate entities all creating their own identity.
It is this identity which shapes much of the community’s early days. The origins of this community lie in the fact that it produced gas for the two Harrogate villages and this was done through the Harrogate Gas Company. Housing for the workers greatly increased, due to the demand of gas and much of this was terraced rows named after their compass orientation; Eastville Terrace, West View, Southville Terrace and North View.
Sykes Grove area
However, if we focus our attention on the easterly boundary of Skipton Road in New Park, we see the turn off into Sykes Grove and this, in its time was one of the busiest areas of the community. Again, we see the influence of the Gas Company with the naming of Archie, Baldwin, Christina and Duncan Streets. These are all named alphabetically but more interestingly, they are all names of the children of the Board of Managers. There would have been an Edwina Street but because of the presence of New Park Quarry (The present Co-op garage) there wasn’t sufficient room. The Gas Company also expressed its more personal identity through the names of the first two locomotives that ran on the railway, bringing coal to the works. These were Barber and Spencer, both members of the Company’s board.
Skipton Road Tunnel
Prior to this railway of 1907, the coal was brought down to New Park by steam traction engines, which, having driven up from Starbeck, turned right down Skipton Road and turned again into Sykes Grove. Here it travelled down a slope (Site of the present car wash opposite Archie Street) and into the coal yards. By 1907 the building of the railway was thought to be a more efficient and agreeable method of delivering the coal. On the last part of its journey, the train passed through a tunnel under Knox Avenue and Skipton Road following the curve of Sykes Grove and again out into the coal yards next to the school. This tunnel still exists although blocked at each end.
Image 1: New Park Bus Terminus
Image 2: New Park School
In the days of the early buses, the New Park bus would terminate at the junction of Skipton Road and Sykes Grove. In the photograph it can be seen in front of the Co-operative which stood on the farther side of Skipton Road. At the same time, the map shows that the terrace of houses in Sykes Grove continued round the curve and easterly along the front of what is now the School field. This section was known as Primrose Hill and is believed to have been the home of the authoress, Barbara Taylor Bradford’s family.
On the other side of Sykes Grove, on Skipton Road, is the School, built in 1896 and opened February 1897 with 75 children on roll.
Image 1: North View Street Sign
Image 2: No 6, Dr Laura Veale's practice
And finally, at the westerly extent of our focus today, we find a row of terraced houses facing out over Skipton Road. For some time numerous interested people wanted to know more about a Dr. Laura Veale who had been Yorkshire’s first female doctor. She was believed to have had a dispensary in New Park but the whereabouts of this was unknown. Eventually an address was found but I was still none the wiser until by accident I found the road sign of ‘North View’ high up on this aforementioned row of houses. Dr. Laura Veale practiced at number six.
This short stretch of Skipton Road has wonderful stories to tell, but sadly, since all local communities have been absorbed into the town of Harrogate, the local identities and street names have disappeared becoming another number on a very long road.
Terry Williams February 2022.
All photos with permission of New Park Heritage Centre.