Uncovering Hirst Lock’s tea house
When Hudson’s Landscapes Services started to clear and prepare the ground at Hirst Lock, they uncovered foundations that brought to life how the area had once been Local resident Peter Randall had been collecting pictures and documents about the area for some time and now it was possible to see the footprint in the ground and to incorporate it into the new Lock Garden.
Hard to imagine but there were once two buildings on the land now occupied by the Lock Garden, including a tea house. The inclusion of the cows in the photo is interesting because Salts Mill, who owned Hirst Farm by 1915, wrote to the canal company complaining that a lack of fencing along the by-wash meant cows kept getting stuck in there.
1889 map showing the two buildings on what is now Hirst Lock Garden and Hirst Farm opposite
As is clear from the photograph there were once two buildings on the site now occupied by the Lock Garden. One appears to be a warehouse, possibly connected to Hirst Mill and in the perfect spot to load and unload boats by the canal. But it may have been a cottage for workers at the mill or at Hirst Farm The other was at one stage a tea room, though it can’t have held many people at once because there were three rooms between the back edge of the house, clearly visible  by the bridge over the by-water and the front wall part of which is now included in the rock garden near roadside fence. Both buildings were demolished by 1937. On the other side of the road, in what is now the car park, was Hirst Farm (right) which survived until 1962 and is remembered fondly by many people as a place where you could buy delicious ice cream.
Part of the tea house wall now incorporated into a rock garden feature in Hirst Lock Garden
FORGOTTEN VICTORIAN PAINTING REDISCOVERED Among his collection of Hirst Wood documents and pictures, Peter Randall had a water-colour of the lock (top right) which he understood was the preliminary sketch for a larger oil painting. After some detective work and with the help of the Industrial Museum and Cartwright Hall, the picture, painted by A Wilson in 1878, (right) was found hanging in a corridor in Bradford’s City Hall. A new photo was taken of it and it now forms the centrepiece of the history board (above left) which HWRG erected in the Lock Garden to tell visitors something of the history of this site.
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Lock keeper with warehouse in background
Hirst Farm as seen from Hirst wood