It drew in tens of thousands of visitors and was regarded as one of the grandest days out in Yorkshire.

It’s hard to contemplate now but Hope Bank Pleasure Grounds near Honley was a massive attraction in the early and middle part of the 1900s and now people have been urged to come forward with their memories.

The pleasure grounds included two boating lakes, ornamental gardens and flower beds, a novel bicycle railway, a zoo, tea rooms, donkey rides, miniature railway, indoor roller skating rink, a shooting gallery and many more attractions, including a helter-skelter.

Holme Valley Sharing Memories has organised an open day from 1pm-4pm on Saturday, October 29 at Hope Bank on Huddersfield Road, just outside Honley. The event will give people an opportunity to find out more about the history of Hope Bank and bring any objects and stories along that might be of interest. There will also be plenty of activities for younger members of the family including chance to dress up, draw and make puppets.

Sharing Memories staff will be on hand to record anecdotes and film maker Gopal Dutta will be capturing people’s stories on camera.

The event is part of a project called Pleasure Park Stories funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Hope Bank pleasure grounds near Honley

Members of Sharing Memories, who are all in their 70s, 80s and 90s, have been uncovering the history of Hope Bank and talking to other groups in the area about their memories of the pleasure grounds.

Hope Bank Pleasure Grounds was the brainchild of John William Mellor, a farmer who bought the land in 1895 and set about transforming what he called a “howling wilderness” into a pleasure park.

By 1906 there was a merry-go-round and a miniature steam train with visitors paying a penny to go in plus extra for the rides.

At its peak in 1948 the attraction drew crowds of up to 50,000, nearly five times the then population of Honley itself.

In the first two decades of the 20th century it was home to huge dances and brass band contests, some of which were reported to be very acrimonious. Churches and working men’s clubs organised special trips to the grounds from all over Yorkshire and trains and trams were used to transport visitors to Hope Bank for their day’s amusement. In winter the grounds opened for skaters to use the frozen ponds.

Hope Bank finally closed in 1955 and Brook Motors, a factory manufacturing electric motors, was built in its place.

Hope Bank Works at Honley
Hope Bank Works at Honley

Holme Valley Sharing Memories project manager Sally Brown is keen to gather as many local anecdotes as possible.

She said: “Because Hope Bank Pleasure Grounds was such a significant attraction in the area, of which virtually nothing remains, we want to capture the stories of people who remember visiting either Hope Bank or other pleasure grounds from their youth.

“Our group is based at Hope Bank Works so it seemed fitting to try and record the history of the place before it’s too late. Many of the residents who have strong memories of Hope Bank are now in their late 80s and 90s.”

As part of the Open Day stories will be recorded and a short film will be made for next year’s Holmfirth Film Festival. There are also plans to do a performance of some of the memories captured and produce an education pack for local schools.

Sharing Memories uses the arts, memories and life experiences as a spring board for projects with older people, schools and the wider community.

For further information about the group’s work go to or call Sally Brown on 01484 968551.