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Back to the Future for the lost park of Leeds

2nd September 2019

Eighty years after its closure, the lost amusement park of Leeds is celebrating a new life as a beacon of biodiversity.

A special display to showcase the park’s transformation into a botanical garden and popular public space is being created as part of a new Back to the Future theme for this year’s Harrogate Autumn Flower Show, 13 -15 September.

Complete with a pictorial meadow full of flowers, the exhibit is being built by a team from Leeds City Council to depict a section of rediscovered railway, once part of a fairground ride and now a haven for wildlife.

Golden Acre Park opened in 1932 and was originally designed as an American-style attraction with motor launches, rowing boats, miniature railway, open air swimming pool, helter-skelter and zoo. After a relatively short life as an amusement park, it closed in 1939 and was eventually bought by the city in 1946.

Plans to re-opened the amusement park were quickly dropped in favour of transforming the land into a botanical garden and so began Golden Acre’s journey to become one of the city’s most popular horticultural spaces.

The display being created for Harrogate Flower Show is designed to evoke the sense of an abandoned railway line, complete with pictorial meadow to reflect the park’s future role in promoting biodiversity.

Head Gardener Dean Lockwood, from Leeds Parks and Countryside, said: “Trying to capture the natural beauty of a summer pictorial meadow for an autumn event has been a real challenge, particularly given the very changeable weather patterns this summer.

“We have sown meadow seed in three batches in the hope that at least one of them will be timed just right for the flower show next month!”

Show Director Nick Smith commented: “Golden Acre Park is a great example of how the past can inform the future. Eighty years after it closed, a once lost amusement park is one of the most popular public spaces in Leeds with a vital new role in promoting biodiversity in the city.”

Other attractions for the 2019 autumn flower show, staged at the Great Yorkshire Showground, include great ideas for beds and borders in Creative Spaces, a world-famous giant vegetable competition and Britain’s biggest exhibition by specialist gardening groups.

Tickets: Fri & Sat £20.50 on the gate or £18 when booked by Tuesday 3 September; Sun £19 or £16.50 in advance. Children under 16 are free with an adult. Parking is free. Visit or call 01423 546157 8.30am – 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

About Us
Harrogate Flower Shows are organised and run by the North of England Horticultural Society, a leading charity set up in 1911 to support and showcase horticulture in the north. Profits from the shows go back to the charity to help continue its important work in promoting gardening across the region.