IT was the scene of smartly dressed nannies with babies and toddlers playing at their knees.
It was the scene of Bobby Smith walking round with his big stick – a visible deterrent to young would-be vandals.
And it was also the place to be seen on a Saturday night.
This are just some of the many memories Barbara Hocknell recalls of Greenhead Park as a young girl.
The park, currently undergoing a £5.4m renovation, was once the hub of society.
And for Miss Hocknell, now aged 95, it is the home to many of her fondest memories.
She and her sister Nancy, who was 18 months younger, lived in Trinity Street – directly opposite the gates to Greenhead Park.
For the young sisters it was their playground and their nightly entertainment.
Sharing her memories with the Examiner, Miss Hocknell – who now lives in Almondbury – recalled: “My earliest memories are of being taken across the road to play in the park.
“We were taken to what we knew as the Italian Gardens – an area of beautifully-kept flower beds and immaculate lawns to the right of the main avenue.
“In our white dresses trimmed with broderie anglaise with pink or blue sashes round our waists and matching bows in our hair, we would sit on the grass picking daisies and making long daisy chains.
“I would have been about four and my sister two and a half.
“Nearly all the benches were occupied by nannies in their smart blue, grey or brown uniforms. They had big prams with one or two babies in them and toddlers round their knees.
“Sooner or later Bobby Smith would stroll along. He was the park keeper – a well-built jovial man with a broad smile and a big stick. I never knew of him using his big stick, but those were the days when a clip round the ear was enough to cause a would-be young vandal to think again.
“Our bedroom was at the front of the house and, although we were supposed to be in bed, we were glued to the windows watching the fascinating scene below.
“For this was Saturday night, the night when the young people of the town flocked to the park to be seen.
“We gazed down upon a vast, ever-moving crown of flowery hats and flimsy dresses, of straw boaters, silver knobbed canes and lemon gloves.”
As a girl she found the ideal place to play whips and tops – behind the main gates – and said the twisting paths were best for bowling hoops.
One of her favourite spots was the lake to the left of the main avenue.
There men and boys would bring their yachts to sail them across the water.
She and Nancy would take their little boats which would often get stuck in the middle when the wind dropped.
“We’d have to beat the water vigorously with canes to make waves which hopefully would drive our yachts to the shore,” she added.
Hundreds of children would come from far away to play in the water and catch frog spawn with their little fishing nets or jam jars.
Lunches for many visiting children would be hunks of bread and dripping.
Miss Hocknell added: “There used to be another lake higher up to the right of the main avenue which was filled in and grassed over.
“It was a lake for walking round, clutching a paper bag full of crusts to feed to the many water birds and swans that lived there.
“For a while there were even little paddle boats on it which held two people.
“It was a lovely experience to paddle about in them with the swans swimming beside you.”
Miss Hocknell recalled several winters where the lake would freeze and they’d take to the ice for skating.
The park was also the home to Sunday musical entertainment.
Military bands – including the Coldstream Guards, Irish and Scots Guards and the Highlanders – all performed.
“Sometimes these bands would assemble outside the main gates and then march all the way up the wide tree-lined avenue to the band stand, playing a rousing tune on the way.
“Oh, what a sight it was,’’ said Miss Hocknell. “The Highlanders with their bagpipes and their kilts swinging, the Guardsmen in busbies and scarlet jackets and the instruments glittering in the sunlight.”
She can recall the War Memorial being built, describing it as a fine piece of architecture.
Miss Hocknell added: “Built by the Victorians, the parks in our towns and cities were intended to provide breathing spaces for those whose lives were dominated by the mill, the factory and the workshop.
“But for young and old, rich and poor alike, the parks were available for all.
“They were places where children, who knew only a cobbled street or back alley could come and play freely, places where adults could relax.
“For many generations of people Greenhead Park has provided these facilities and those of us who remember it in its heyday look back with immense affection for the untold hours of happiness it has given.’’
And she added: “Now it is to be restored to something like its former glory, it will be interesting to see how far that can be achieved.”