BECKETS PARK - TIMELINE
1164 Thomas Becket is thought to have drunk water from the well on the
edge of the park after his trial at Northampton Castle.
1460 War of the Roses – Battle of Northampton took place in Delapre,
crossing the river into the park.
1590 Milling on site – Nuns mill given to Delapre Abbey.
1612 Flat racing on the site.
1783 Construction of the promenade – New Walk.
1841 Promenade extended – Victoria Promenade now reached the river.
1872 New railway line opened with trains running through the park on their
way to and from Bedford.
1882 Northampton Corporation adopted the area of common land known as
Cow Meadow. The open space had uses such as promenading to carpet
1889 Although the age of the iron bridge is not known, there is mention of it
in the Corporation’s minutes of 1889. (Possibly now pedestrian bridge
to the marina?)
1904 Extraction of sand and gravel to create paths for other parks in the
1912 The original boathouse, situated at South Bridge, was demolished when
the bridge was widened.
1914 By the time of the First World War, the park boasted paths and
promenades, avenues of trees, seats, railed boundaries, footbridge over
the river, boating from the island, drinking fountains and band
concerts in the summer months.
Mid 1920’s Bowls and tennis facilities and pavilion created - putting green
added later, although sloping ground had its challenges!
1927 New boathouse built on island next to the lock.
1935 Cow Meadow renamed Beckets Park by the borough council.
1937 Boat rides along the river were developed. A Dutch man, Jan D. Mienes,
and his son, Clarence, looked after the boats and rented them out.
1951 Promenade improved as part of the Festival of Britain.
1952 Northampton Sea Cadets erected a Nissan Hut on donated land sited
on Calvesholme island where the unit continues to train.
1971 National Rally of Boats took place with an excess of 500 boats and
50,000 people attending.
1976 Summer drought stops the boat rally and event was cancelled.
1977 Model boating was taking place on the lake.
1980’s Family fun days with dog show, Punch & Judy, children’s disco and
fancy dress competition among the attractions.
1989 Boathouse vandalised and burnt to the ground.
1990 Narrowboat festival with 60 traditional boats taking part.
2000’s Firework displays taking place in the park organised by the Rotary
2007 Volunteers painted railings and erected information boards.
2009 West Northants Development Corporation gave a grant of £1.8m
towards the creation of a marina.
2011 Riverside Festival to celebrate 250 years of the River Nene being
navigable with 5,000 people attending.
2012 New marina opens
2012 Olympic torch carried through the park.
2016 Buddies of Beckets formed and introduces new events to the park.
2017 Northampton’s first Mela and Christmas Elf Door Hunt organised by
Buddies of Beckets.
You can find out more about the history of the Northampton to Bedford railway line, Beckets Well, the River Nene, the outdoor pool in Midsummer Meadow and events held in the park on five interpretation boards installed by Buddies of Beckets in 2020.