Salford isn’t all parkland but I couldn’t continue my surprising Salford series for much longer without covering Buile Hill Park. As the name suggests this large park climbs up the hill to Eccles Old Road in Seedley. The park is surrounded by houses and is always popular; there are always walkers here whatever time of day or week you visit. This is also the park where many Salfordians will gather on Bonfire Night for the best firework display. What we call Buile Hill Park is a combination of spaces that started with Seedley Park; the second public park in Salford, opened after Peel Park in 1876. In 1903 the park was enlarged when the grounds of Buile Hill House were opened as a park, in 1927 the grounds of Springfield Villa were added and in 1938 the grounds of Hart Hill House were opened to the public. Of these buildings only Buile Hill House still remains; Salford Council bought this house in 1902 and local people raised money to help with the conversion to a public park.
Buile Hill House was built in 1827 as the home of Sir Thomas Potter, the first Lord Mayor of Manchester, a linen draper and co-founder of the Manchester Guardian and was one of many mansions along Eccles Old Road, known locally as Millionaires Row around 100 years ago when you were more likely to see a Rolls Royce than a dog walker. Times have changed and these spaces are now for everyone’s use.
Buile Hill House became a mining museum, with a mock mine and pit cage and by the 1990s had a wide collection of mining memorability. It closed in 2000 and has been boarded up ever since, a cause of much sadness in Salford.
This incremental development makes the park more interesting. We always start at the ‘bottom’ of the park, in the original Seedley Park that is laid out as traditional parkland with a central avenue. Walking up the hill, I like to wander through the woodland looking for birds and squirrels before following the paths around the back of Buile Hill House to the large expanses of grassland. Walking around the hall, the best view south across Greater Manchester can be found from a sunny path below Buile Hill Park Hall and it is always worth pausing here. As we walk down the hill, if there are no young people around we might have a go on the adventure playground or try out the exercise machines before walking around the allotments to see what is growing.