Parlington Hall :: Newspaper Articles, with references to

Leeds Mercury Clippings

Introduction

The following extract from the Leeds Mercury, relates the activities of a meeting held in Parlington Park, it was described as a "grand Conservative demonstration and fete" by the reporter. The location could have been either in the Deer Park, in the low lying area beyond the Dark Arch, and railway; or perhaps in the open grassy areas along side the main driveway to the Triumphal Arch. I would side with the Deer Park as the provision of a refreshments tent would be easily serviced from the Hall. Additionally the gathering of around 700 people, could be accommodated by the Aberford Railway from Garforth, although with only one carriage a certain amount of "too-ing and fro-ing" would have been necessary. Also many of the visitors would have arrived by carriage and the facilities at Parlington to deal with the horses would have been preferable to having them stand off near the event if near the driveway.

Similar Event at Grimston Park

To give an indication of the occasion, a volunteer festival held at nearby Grimston Hall in August 1864, featured in the Illustrated London News is shown in the header image.

Conservative Gathering in Parlington Park

Extract from the Leeds Mercury Friday 27th July 1894
What was termed a grand Conservative demonstration and fete took place yesterday afternoon in Parlington Park, near Garforth. The weather was all that could be desired for an outdoor gathering, but, from some cause or other, the assembly was numerically small. The promoters were evidently disappointed at the result of their efforts. Lord Harewood who presided, ascribed it to "a certain contratemps," and another speaker seemed inclined to blame the North-Eastern Railway Company. Including a numerous contingent from some of the Conservative organisations of Leeds, there were probably not more than seven hundred people assembled in front of the temporary platform from which the speaking took place. A large proportion were ladies. In another part of the park was a brass band, which played at intervals, a refreshment tent, and a very large marquee, in which entertainments were to be given during the evening. The noble chairman was supported by Lord George Hamilton, M.P.; Colonel Gunter, the member for Barkston Ash Division; Mr Thomas Fielden, the Conservative candidate for the Middleton Division of Lancashire; Mr E. C. Brooksbank, Mr Schrieber, Mr D. B. Wilson, Mr J. H. Morkill, Captain Morley, Mr T. H. Brater, [probably miss-spelled as the agent to the Gascoignes' was a Mr T. Herbert Prater] Mr. Dobson, Mr Brady Nicholson, Mr A. Harrison, Mr A Hick, Mr. Armstrong, Mr Routledge, and Mr Bartle.

The Chairman [Lord Harewood] said the Government reigned, but did not govern, and he pitied them. [Liberal Party in Power, W. E. Gladstone 1892-1894] When they entered office they had a large and promising field for heroic legislation. That generally meant legislation that did nobody any good, but chiefly sowed the seeds of dissension and set class against class. The Government was like an unfortunate rabbit which was being ferreted and could not get out of any of the holes. At the bolt-hole of Welsh Disestablishment sat a Scotch terrier; at the bolt-hole of the new Registration Bill sat a large Irish terrier, and so on. Wherever the unfortunate Government tried to poke their nose out and get into some field of legislation they found someone to head them [off] and say. "You must do something for us before you get out," and all the while they were being sharply worried by their Radical friend the ferret. If the effects of the Budget were permanent it would discourage thrift, drive capital out of the country, reduce to a minimum the employment of agricultural labour, render it impossible for landed proprietors to live on and look after their estates, and last, but not least, discourage the contribution of money, both by donation and bequest, for charitable and benevolent objects, which had rendered England pre-eminent amongst the nations of the world in that respect.

Referring to the question of the House of Lords, he said he had enquired as to the success or non-success of the meeting recently held in Leeds, and the account he had most frequently received described it as a "fizzle". No party meeting would deter the House of Lords from voting as their conscience dictated and as the interests of the nation required, more especially as they felt they were in harmony with the majority of the people. The Lords had as direct a mandate from the country to throw out the [Irish] Home Rule Bill as was ever given to any governing body. There was another bill which he honed to have the honour of assisting to throw out. This was the Evicted Tenants Bill, which inflicted great injustice upon the landlords of Ireland, but still greater on the law-abiding tenants to whom it was proposed to turn out of their farms, in order that there might be admitted dishonest debtors and members of a conspiracy which had been denounced as illegal by the highest authorities, and denounced as immoral by the highest ecclesiastical authorities. If he had forty votes, instead of one, they should be devoted to the destruction of so iniquitous and disgraceful a measure as that. (Applause).

Lord George Hamilton, M.P., who was heartily received, moved the following:-
That this meeting pledges itself to support the Conservative and Unionist party under the leadership of Lord Salisbury and Mr Balfour, and express its thanks to the Opposition in the House of Commons for the persistent and praiseworthy efforts made to defeat the proposals of the Government, which are calculated to destroy the integrity and commercial prosperity of the Empire.

His Lordship remarked that this was an era of record breaking, and the Government had certainly broken the record in having kept the House of Commons sitting for the longest period, and meanwhile done the least work. It came into office with a small majority, and inflated notions. It was going to inaugurate an unheard-of period of prosperity and progress, but it had failed, and that because the Parliamentary coach was overloaded, under-horsed, and very badly driven. However much they might have disliked Mr Gladstone's policy and methods, his extraordinary powers of speech and large experience made him the most important man in the House of Commons, so long as he was a member of it, but he was gone, and the greatest man in the Commons now was the leader of the Opposition, Mr Balfour. (Applause). In circuses they had seen a man try to ride two horses at once. Politically, Mr Gladstone was the greatest adept at his performance that ever sat in Parliament; he could ride four, five, or six horses at once: but Lord Rosebery [Rosebury] had no experience of the task, and whenever he had tried to ride the English and Irish horses together, owing to the fractiousness of the Irish one, he had come a cropper, and been considerably bruised. The present Prime Minister was not adapted to carrying out a double-faced and many-sided policy. Their opponents obtained power by making infinite promises; they had been two years in office, and their performance had been infinitesimal. They ascribed their failure to the wicked Unionist party, and still more to that other wicked body, the House of Lords. They wished to be the judges of their own legislative efforts. His Lordship having ridiculed the Leeds Conference on the House of Lords, dismissed the subject with Lord Beaconsfield's words, to the effect that the English people were not likely to be influenced by the hair-brained chatter of irresponsible frivolity. Dealing with Mr John Morley's complaint as to the obstructive action of the Peers, he remarked that the House of Lords occupied towards the present Government exactly the position which the local surveyor held in relation to the jerry builder. What the Government had to do was show that their measures were worthy of public support. If they were not satisfied let them appeal to the country; but the last thing they would do was submit their Home Rule Bill to the opinion of the country. Mr John Morley was much too clever not to know that the measure was a fraud from beginning to end, and the House of Lords only did its duty in preventing it becoming law.

As for the Evicted Tenants' Bill, it was nothing more than the reward of the agents of Anarchism, and he hoped the House of Lords would laso treat it in a proper and becoming spirit. "Curses like chickens come home to roost," and it was worthy of notice that their opponents, who were mainly impelled by a desire to pass the Home Rule Bill, which would have disintegrated the Empire, had only succeeded in disintegrating themselves. The Home Rule Party in Ireland was far from being a happy family, and there were many differences amongst the English supporters of that measure. At one or two recent elections Labour candidates had met with support. Mr John Morley in addressing these, had in effect said, "I don't like your views, but I want your votes," and this moderate request he made for the purpose of trying to heal the dissensions which existed in the Radical party. Whenever fresh masses of men were intrusted [entrusted] with political power, there were certain to be new proposals brought into the political arena, and we were undoubtedly experiencing this at the present time. Having reduced the franchise, we must be prepared to face the consequences. Mr Morley said it was the ambition of his party to realise the golden dream of the newly enfranchised. What section of the community had the Liberals benefited by their legislation? Had wages risen; were industries more prosperous? On the contrary, the natural result of the efforts of Mr Morley and his colleagues had been to promote social discord, to aggravate industrial depression, and to produce political chaos. Their opponents would never produce a policy large and liberal enough to promote our interests at home and abroad, and therefore the utmost ought to be done at the next election to secure a Unionist majority. (Applause)

Colonel Gunter, M.P., who seconded the resolution, said it had been with great difficulty that he had attended the meeting, owing to ill-health. He thanked Lord George Hamilton for the efforts he made whilst in office to give us a strong navy, adding that their opponents were endeavouring to carry out his programme, though in a weak and half-hearted way. Alluding to the Evicted Tenants' Bill the hon. And galant Member said he did not believe it had been brought in with the intention of passing it. At any rate, it was meant as a reward to the Irish Nationalist Members for their aid in forcing various measures through the House. It might be called a Dillon and O'Brien Relief Bill. As to the House of Lords, Colonel Gunter regarded it as a great political safeguard.

Mr. Richard Wright who wore a star on his breast, and who introduced himself as a delegate of the Grand Council of the Primrose League from the south of Ireland, supported the resolution in a lengthy speech, in which he sought to pour ridicule and contempt upon the Irish Nationalists.

The resolution having been adopted, the Chairman and speakers were thanked for their services, on the motion of Mr. Brooksbank, seconded by Councillor Brindley (Leeds). A vote of thanks was also accorded to Colonel Gascoigne for permitting the gathering to take place in Parlington Park.

This concluded the proceedings in front of the platform, and the assembly moved off to another part of the Park to participate in the amusements which had been provideded for the occasion.

Comments on the event

The gathering was a response to the victory by the Conservative party over the Liberals, in March that year Gladstone had resigned over the Irish Home Rule Bill and Lord Rosebery became Prime Minister and formed a minority Liberal Government. Given the Gascoigne interests in Ireland it is not surprising that they should have hosted such an event. It is interesting to see that over a hundred years later many of the issues mentioned remain problems to this day. I particularly like the analogy of the Government to a rabbit being persued by a ferret, my mind sees a rabbit with the head of Gordon Brown!

Aside from the politics of the day, I really enjoy imagining such an event occurring just a couple of hundred yards from where I am writing this article. No doubt the Hall would have been thronged with visitors, the Chairman and speaker Lord Harewood must surely have stayed at Parlington, for a few days, as must Lord Hamilton; it is interesting to note that Lord George Hamilton had married the daughter of Henry Lascelles, 3rd Earl of Harewood in 1871! So his presence along with Lord Harewood is not at all surprising

The reference by Lord Harewood regarding the reasons for the lower than expected turnout, when he said, "a certain contratemps," suggests that political correctness was similarly aflicting that age!

The addition of a brass band on the occasion really sets it up as a grand affair, the ladies in their long Victorian dresses and parasols, would have been an impressive sight. Also to reach the Deer Park from the Hall they would have crossed over the railway by way of the small footbridge from the top of the garden above the Dark Arch. This bridge features in the article about the "Day out in the 1930's" in the Artifacts Section

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Notes

The full extent of the mines and the railway that served them, and Aberford, is detailed in an excellent book by Graham Hudson, sadly no longer in print. Title: The Aberford Railway and the history of the Garforth Collieries published by David & Charles.

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Pictures from earlier versions of the site are denoted by the left border effect.

References

A useful reference to the Arch of Constantine in Rome.

Another at Constantine Arch, Wikipedia

Another at Titus Arch, Wikipedia

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