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A Souvenir Guide to the Valley Gardens, Harrogate
by Jane Blayney & Anne Smith
Published by VIDAR Media Group
ISBN 978 1 9993468 8 1  (28 pages, over 60 photographs and illustrations)

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The Valley Gardens originated as open land with natural sulphur and chalybeate springs which was protected from enclosure by an Act of Parliament of 1770.

In its 250 years of history, despite appearing in all of Harrogate's visitor guides, the town's premier attraction has never had its own souvenir guide.

In the summer of 2019, a year before the Valley Gardens celebrates its 250th anniversary, Jane Blayney and Anne Smith, both former Chairmen of the Friends of Valley Gardens, teamed-up with VIDAR Media Group to produce the first ever souvenir guide to the Valley Gardens, Harrogate.

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Malcolm Neesam, Historian                                   Photo: Nita Strudwick

The reader who examines this splendid book and then possibly inspired by what they have read, goes on to explore Valley Gardens, will find they are doubly indebted to the two authors.

It was Anne Smith who, in 1986, set up Friends of the Valley Gardens to counter - successfully - the threats of a proposed car park and a deteriorating Sun Pavilion, and it was Jane Blayney who, almost 25 years later, took over the Chairmanship from Tom Holleman to tackle the threats posed by the deterioration of particular features of Valley Gardens resulting from the difficult financial conditions of the time. Anne and Jane would, I am sure, be the first to admit the wonderful results achieved by the Friends of the Valley Gardens could not have been achieved without the generous cooperation of those many public spirited volunteers who gave of their time and energy, as well as their financial resources to reach the goals that motivated the Friends.

In addition, the Friends of the Valley Gardens have always taken extreme care to ensure a good working relationship with Harrogate Borough Council and the expert and dedicated team employed by them to maintain the parks and gardens of Harrogate District. The volunteers have never wanted to be seen as rivals to the Council’s team but as friendly supporters, working under their supervision. In the end everyone realises that it is in the interests of Harrogate that the gardens look their best.

The other debt we owe to these two former Chairmen of Friends of the Valley Gardens is that having laid down the sometimes thankless and always demanding role of the Chair, they should have taken on the long and complex task of writing this book. Such a task involves re-examining and re-evaluating every part of the Valley Gardens - its past, present and possibly future; of deciding which things may be contained within the text and which things should not! The selection of illustrations is a major challenge, as they should illustrate the text, without putting it into the shade and care must be taken in ensuring the book is ‘reader-friendly’ in that its size, weight, print and clarity encourage use. In all this, I am convinced that the authors have succeeded splendidly.

Introduction to 

A Souvenir Guide to the Valley Gardens, Harrogate

Malcolm Neesam

To purchase a copy of the souvenir guide (£5 + £2 p&p)

please email the publisher using the contact button below

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