Cut(t) Wood Park, Rishton

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Dedication plate

Cut Wood Park was given to the people of Rishton by Captain Robert Petre, the then lord of the Dunkenhalgh manor in 1953. It was made into a natural park by the Council.

This was in memory of his father Captain Charles Bernard Petre, who died in 1949.

Since this day the park has been enjoyed by most Rishton residents at one time or another, backing onto the reservoir the park affords fantastic viewing over the Whitebirk valley out towards Preston. It is from the reservoir that the area takes its name. The reservoir was once a hollow marsh before being flooded with water for the canal, and the Saxon word for this is CUTTLACHE.

During the 1930's a portable wood cabin was present in the vicinity of the park known as Woodland Cafe.

During the financial year 1936 - 37 a further £100 was spent on Cutt Wood park.

On the 7th May 1936, A letter was addressed to the various organisations in Rishton inviting gifts of seats for Cutt Wood. The Council surveyor was instructed to take photographs of Cutt Wood as necessary for record purposes.

Cutt Wood Park in November 2002 from Sumerset Road.

20 benches for Cutt Wood were ordered on the 14th May 1936, by Rishton Urban District Council.

It was reported that T. W. Bracewell, Esq., J. P., C. C., had offered to supply the gates for the entrance to Cutt Wood park. The Councils best thanks of the Council were passed to Mr. Bracewell.

The Cutt Wood Sub Committee had met on the 6th August 1936, and recommended;

  • That the whole area of footpath outside the main entrance gates and between the kerb lines in Cutt Lane and Blackburn Road be flagged with new sawn flags
  • that a similar area inside the gates be surfaced with asphalte.

it was also reported that a name plate had been removed from one of the seats and action was being taken.

According to records the park was opened on the 29th August 1936 by Councillor T. W. Bracewell, J. P., C. C.

The then mayor, and councillors of the time officially opened the park in 1953, as well Captain Robert Petre.

The Council Surveyor referred to the question of maintenance work in Cutt Wood and asked for the instructions of the Council Committee regarding the same on the 3rd September 1936. The questions of the provision of a shelter and conveniences in the Park were also raised and discussed. Resolved (1) that the whole of the above be referred to the Park Sub-Committee for consideration and (2) that Councillor T. Bradshaw be co-opted on the Park Sub-Committee. The plan and estimate, prepared by the Surveyor, on the 5th November for proposed lavatory accommodation in the Park, was approved. The question of fixing a coping on the wall at the main entrance was left over for the present. The provision and planting of rambler roses on the rustic fence adjoining the Reservoir and on the north side of the Park, was left in the hands of Councillor Booth and the Surveyor, with power to act.

Plans were submitted for proposed public conveniences and shelter scheme in Cutt Wood Park in June 1937, a letter was also received from the Ministry of Health regarding the same. The plans were accepted.

Cutt Wood play area December 2002

A letter was read from Mr. J. Bridges, regarding the benches placed at the entrance to Cutt Wood Park in May 1938. After the council had considered the circumstances, it was decided to that hardship would be caused to the elderly by the removal of the benches to another position, and no action was to be taken.

But on the 4th May 1939, The council surveyor was instructed to move 3 seats without name plates from the War Memorial and Cutt wood park, and transfer them to Harwood Road Recreation Ground.

Also in the same month, The council surveyor reported receipt of a letter from the Clerk to Lancashire County Council, regarding trenches in Cutt Wood, and explained the proposals which were being outlined. It was recommended by the Council Clerk, that these trenches should be lined in pre-cast concrete slabs, which the council approved of. On the 19th October, the surveyor, in accordance with instructions from the council, had obtained a quotation from the Blackburn Corporation Electricity Undertaking for the provision of an electric lighting installation in the trenches in Cutt wood.

Cutt Wood entrance in bloom. (Photo supplied, and used with permission of Gordon Hartley)

The Council clerk read correspondence from Mr. J. Parker, of Barnston, Blackburn Road, in a General Purpose Committee Meeting, held by the Council on the 14th December 1939, drawing attention to the fact that Mr. Haworth's goats had repeatedly trespassed on his garden. The clerk was to write to Mr. Haworth pointing out that the Council objected to his animals being in Cutt Wood, and that there was a possibility of proceedings for damage against him, unless the goats were kept on his own land.

Correspondence was received from Mr. N. Halliwell on the 11th July 1940, concerning the inconvenience caused to the neighbourhood by the seats outside the entrance to Cutt Wood Park. The Council agreed to have the benches moved inside the park entrance, and an order was made to close the park at one hour after sunset, but no later than 10 pm, and the park shall be opened at 7 - 30 am each day.

A letter was submitted to the Council on the 19th July 1945, on behalf of a person who was evacuated to this district from Manchester in 1939 and who wished anonymously to donate £25 for the purchase of bulbs to be planted in Cutt Wood. The gift was accepted and a letter of thanks was forwarded to the person concerned.

Opening Ceremony

The members of the councils parks sub-committee submitted their report on the 27th September 1945, regarding the purchase of bulbs for the Esplanade, the War Memorial and Cutt Wood and that 8,000 bulbs were recommended to be purchased, in addition to the expending of the £25 given for Cutt Wood.

Attention was drawn to the need for  public conveniences to be erected, when convenient, at a point near Cutt Wood and also in Hermitage Street on the 14th March 1946. The Council Surveyor was instructed to prepare plans and estimates of cost for consideration at a subsequent council meeting.

A plan was submitted on the 8th May 1947, showing suggestions for a circular bed in the Cutt Wood were approved, and the Surveyor was authorised to carry on with the work and also to have old trees removed from the wood.

An offer was received from Mr. Crosland, of Rishton, to remove the trees in the lower half of the Park, on the 21st May 1951, for which he was prepared to pay the sum of £25. The Council Surveyor contacted the Chairmen of the Buildings and Highways and Finance Committees, who had authorised him to accept the offer.

The Council Clerk reported on an interview with Captain Petre and his Agent on the 16th August 1951, regarding the terms on which the gift was made and which would be incorporated in the Deed, a draft of which would be submitted subsequently.

The Council Clerk drew attention to an accident which had occurred in Cutt Wood due to tree felling operations on the 29th October 1951, and it was Resolved by the Council, that the Wood be closed to the public for a period during the tree felling operations.

Meanwhile, nearly 12 months later, on the 22nd May 1952, The Clerk reported that he had interviewed a firm of Solicitors regarding the legal position with the Contractor responsible for tree felling and that the Solicitors had forwarded a letter to the Contractor giving him one month in which to complete the Contract, failing which the Council will have the work completed and charge him with the cost. It was then reported on the 10th July, that good progress had been made by the Contractors in clearing the site of the felled trees, and they had been asked to fill in holes caused by the removal of the roots. The Surveyor was instructed to carry out sufficient repairs to the paths to enable them to be used and thereafter the wood be re-opened to the public. It was further Resolved That the Surveyor, in collaboration with Mr. Birtwistle, of Great Harwood, prepare a plan of the ultimate layout of the wood and that this be submitted to the Committee.

The 14th August saw A letter submitted from Mr. Birtwistle suggesting that he was unable to assist the Council in the preparation of a master plan, and recommending the engagement of a firm of landscape, etc. specialists. The Forestry Commission was to be asked to assist by advising on the planting of trees in the wood.

On the 18th September 1952, A report from the Forestry Commission regarding the planting of trees was submitted, and the Surveyor also reported that he had invited a firm of Contractors to submit a layout, without cost to the Council.

It was also reported on the 18th September 1952, that several trees had been cut down by children and the timber transported to various parts of the district. The names of several children had been obtained and given to the Police. It was decided not to take any further action in this particular case. A letter was forwarded to the Divisional Education Committee suggesting that the half-term holiday be deferred until after the 5th November, in an effort to reduce the vandalism which was taking place in the district.

On the 9th July 1953, Alternative tenders were obtained for preliminary work in the lay-out of the area. It was resolved by the Council, that a representative of Messrs. Maxwell Hart Ltd. be asked to meet the Buildings and Highways Sub-Committee, and that enquiries be made as to the possibility of sanction to a loan being obtained for the whole of the work included in the scheme prepared by Messrs. Maxwell Hart Ltd. On the 13th August 1953, The Sub-Committee further reported on their discussion with a representative of Messrs. Maxwell M. Hart, Ltd. on the various stages of their proposals for the lay-out. It was Resolvedâ€"That the report of the Sub-Committee be received and that the layout submitted by Messrs. Maxwell M. Hart Ltd. be adopted at an estimated cost of £3,500. It was further Resolvedâ€"That application be made to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government for sanction to a loan for £3,500 plus stamp duties and loan fees.

The Clerk submitted the draft Deed of Gift, on the 14th January 1953, which had been received from the Solicitors to the Dunkenhalgh Estate. He further stated that several suggested Clauses had been deleted or amended in the Councils favour. Resolvedâ€"That the draft be now approved.

The Clerk reported that the formal consent of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government had been received on the 25th March 1954, to the borrowing of the sum of £3,566 for 30 years for the development of a portion of Cut Wood.

In May 1996 the front of the park entrance was renovated, new benches and a paved area were laid around the gates, but in the process an ancient Sycamore tree was removed from the centre of the gates.

Cut Wood Park as seen from Somerset Road in July 2001.

The local residents were none to happy about the removal of the tree and on Thursday May 30th 1996 the Lancashire Evening Telegraph ran this report;

Council under fire for environmental blunder

RISHTON folk were furious that a tree, which has stood for generations, got the chop - in the middle of Environment Week in May 1996.

They are appalled Hyndburn Council did not consult residents before felling the ancient sycamore to make way for a paved area with benches and litterbins.

Sheila Heap, who lives on nearby St Alban's Road, said:

"That tree was the main feature of this park. My daughter used to play here as a little girl and my three-year-old granddaughter loved it. I am furious with the council for not informing any of the park users or local residents because we didn't have a chance to object. I know plenty of people who would have signed a petition. We'd have tied ourselves to the tree if it would have helped!"

View from Cutt Wood.

Sheila's daughter, Judith, added: "It's ridiculous that in Environment Week, the council decides to fell a tree which has been a focal point of the town for generations. These days, children are taught to appreciate nature and this is giving them all the wrong messages."

Geoff Collinson, of Cut Lane, said: "If we had known they were going to chop the tree down, we would have put a tree preservation order on it. The park is fine as it is and doesn't need any benches for people to vandalise."

Environmental expert Professor Chris Baines said: "If this had been a house builder, the authorities would have come down on them like a ton of bricks. I think the locals should press the council to get preservation orders on all large trees."

Entrance to Cut Wood Park July 2001.

David Barwell, Hyndburn's park officer, said: "I have had a number of people ringing to complain but I stand by my decision. The tree was in a bad condition and there are plenty more sycamores in this park. If we thought this was going to be a sensitive issue we would have followed our policies and consulted the locals. I can only advise the complainants to wait until the work is finished and judge how beneficial it is then."

The above picture is the park entrance as it looked in July 2001.

Cutt Wood play area in December 2002.

The park is situated on the main Blackburn Road down one of its lengths, the reservoir down another, and Cut Lane down another. The final side is facing open fields overlooking the former quarry site of Cunliffe and Close Brow.

HYNDBURN Council fenced off the children's play area - at a cost of £10,000 - as part of a clampdown on dog fouling in July 1996. The dog-free zone around the children's play equipment, was in a bid to reduce health risks. The scheme followed a report which found that 27% of people quizzed thought litter and dog fouling to be of most concern in recreation areas.

Since the survey, the council has passed a by-law to ensure dog owners use free Poopa Scoops, which were available from all council offices, and the new dog waste bins in the borough's parks and recreation grounds.

Cutt Wood Park in the Summer

Cut Wood was the seventh park in the borough to have a fenced-in play area. Councillor Ian Ormerod, leisure services committee chairman, said: "When we spend money on upgrading playgrounds, we try to make them completely dog free. We are obviously concerned that there is no health risk for children using theses sites. Having a fence around the play area also helps reduce vandalism because it is physically more difficult to get into the site. Open playgrounds tend to be more vulnerable and when you're spending so much on refurbishing sites they have to be carefully maintained."

In early 2006 the parks play equipment was refurbished, and the sand pit was removed for health and safety reasons. Railings around the play area were repainted, and new equipment added.

1 Million Funding

On Friday 20th October 2006, Hyndburn Council urged residents to support a £1 million bid for cash to breathe new life into the borough's parks.

The local authority wants to see the 11 parks in the area used to host free public events as well as introducing three countryside rangers who will tour all the parks.

Councillor Lynn Wilson, who had responsibility for parks and open spaces, said: "This is a momentous time for Hyndburn parks and now we need local people to have their say about how the parks should develop. We want to know what they like or hate about our parks and the kinds of events they'd like to see in them."

The council was going for an initial £500,000 grant but there were hopes the figure would be more than doubled with the involvement of community groups making their own bids for match-funding.

The council's funding bid was made to the Big Lottery Enhancing Communities fund.

The parks are:

  • Bullough Park, Accrington
  • Haworth Park, Accrington
  • Oak Hill Park, Accrington
  • Peel Park (and Coppice) Accrington.
  • Gatty Park, Church
  • Milnshaw Park, Church
  • Mercer Park, Clayton-le-Moors
  • Memorial Park, Great Harwood
  • Lowerfold Park, Great Harwood
  • Rhyddings Park in Oswaldtwistle
  • Cut Wood Park, Rishton.

The 23rd October 2009 saw Hyndburn Borough Council attempt to bring Cutt Wood park up to Green Flag standards for Park amenities. The Council had already achieved this over previous years with Haworth Park in Accrington, Memorial Park in Great Harwood, and Mercer Park in Clayton Le Moors. The parks were judged by a panel to make sure all targets had been achieved.

Amongst the targets to be achieved were the main entrance cleaning of bracken and debris for better visability, along with some minor planting. Litter bins were to be replaced around the park, and a 5 year management plan of the plan was to be put in place.

There were 5 elements to be meet for the park to be awarded the flag.

During this exercise it transpired that the Council own the jetty by the reservoir, not North West water as previous thought. They only own the actual waters edge. The corner of the jetty was in dire need of rebuilding, as well a land drain that ran to the side of it. It was thought that the football pitch may have to have the drains re-laid, but this one drain was the only one that took all the water away from the pitch.

It was proposed that there may be a change to the top entrance for vehicular access, which would involve some tree felling just inside the park, and the paths cleared.

Several groups from Rishton were invited to tender their ideas and suggestions for the park, including bowling and tennis, but the biggest overall suggestion from all groups was for toilet facilities. Groups involved were:

This website, PROSPECTS, Friends of Rishton Youth, and the Rishton Festival.

So it was, that on the 16th July 2010, the park was awarded the green flag with conditions being meet as outlined above. A new flag pole was erected, and the green flag raised in the company of Mayor Malcolm Pritchard, and members of PROSPECTS, Hyndburn Parks, and Friends of Rishton Youth.

cutt wood gathering
Raising the standards at Cutt wood park.
(Photo by Ken Moss)


Council Minutes

Lancashire Evening Telegraph 30th May 1996, and 18th July 1996.

Rishton on Record, the Festival of Britain 1951.