History of the Park

On a map dated 1800, the area of the Addison Park and Hillgrounds was called Ham Fields.   In 1845  Henry  Littledale, who was Director of the Sun Life Insurance Company, purchased part of  the land on which he built The Grange including parkland.

On a map dated 1848 a Lodge House is shown at the entrance of the park on a line just left of where Hillgrounds road is now. Unfortunately, an incendiary bomb dropped in 1943 caused such damage that the building was demolished. On the west side of the estate another lodge was built in 1853 and it may still be seen occupied today.

The road to the farm which was not far from The Grange was between the ‘park’ and the West Lodge. In 1939 when Grange Camp was built the entrance to Bedford Road was not big enough due to the heavy traffic using it and a new entrance was built on the other side of West Lodge where Halsey Rd is now. A dual carriageway was built from there on the line of the old farm road. Part of the dual carriageway is now a car park.

On the death of Mr Littledale in 1866 the property passed to Harry Thornton. He is recorded as ‘the jolliest of men’  and helped any stranger, including vagrants, coming to his door. When he died in 1895 it was said, ‘To universal regret’

The estate was then purchased by James Harold Howard, the son of James Howard of Britannia Works.

In 1916, Addison, their only son attached to the 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed at the Battle of the Somme on Monday 4th September. He is buried at the Guillemont Cemetery, Guillemont, France. Grave XLL DI.

In 1936 his mother, then widowed, donated a part of the Grange land as a pleasure ground for the people of Kempston in his memory. She gave five acres to the then Kempston Urban District Council. It was formally opened on Tuesday 25th March with the Chairman, members of the Council and friends of Mrs Howard present. The weather was cold with wind and sleet. The new park contained slides, swings, roundabouts and a sand pit. Also some seats ‘for the elderly to sit on and relax’

In 1949, September 16th Mary Howard died and bequeathed  the rest of her estate and parkland (33-65 acres) to ‘Kempston residents for the benefit of their leisure’

Clive Smith 2010