The unlikely story of the lost Leeds amusement park that was modelled on New York

One of Leeds' most tranquil parks was once a haven of rowdy hedonism.

Thursday, 19th April 2018, 3:47 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th April 2018, 3:51 pm

For a brief six-year period in the 1930s, Golden Acre Park near Bramhope was a full-on theme park based on the famous Coney Island in New York.

The unlikely attraction boasted hydroplanes, a miniature railway, motorboat circuit and even a monorail, giving it the atmosphere of a Butlin's holiday camp.

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The pleasure park opened in 1932 as a rival to Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and was home to the largest dance hall in Yorkshire, pony and donkey rides, and an outdoor swimming pool called the Blue Lagoon.

Its death knell sounded when the Parkway Hotel opened nearby, and its clientele began to object to the noise from the amusement park - although many believed that it simply wasn't a profitable operation.

The lake had motor launches, rowing boats and canoes, and hydroplane races were held on the water. A giant seaplane was on display as the centrepiece. The miniature railway was nearly two miles long and circled the lake, and it even had a dining car.

Other amusements included tennis, golf, a water chute and a pets corner. The original cafe is still used today as a coffee shop.

The park closed in 1938 and many of the buildings and rides fell into disrepair during the war years.

In 1945 the council bought the land, and Golden Acre was landscaped and re-opened as a botanical garden. The Blue Lagoon survived the war and later became part of the hotel complex. It was in use until 1961 before being demolished.

Some evidence of the pool remains in the park today, including the steps and the frame of the slide. Part of the perimeter wall can also be seen. There is still some of the miniature railway trackbed and platforms hidden in the undergrowth.