Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sunny Bunces

I need to get my affairs in order (as they say). This particular thought was prompted by a one hour search through boxes of old photographs for a picture I once took of Sunny Vale Pleasure Gardens. And the search was prompted by picking up a copy of a new book by local author Chris Helme entitled "Sunny Vale Pleasure Gardens - A Postcard From Sunny Bunces".

Sunny Vale Pleasure Gardens - known by one and all as "Sunny Bunces" after the founder of the gardens, Joseph Bunces - was located in a valley just outside Lightcliffe, midway between Halifax and Brighouse. It was one of those "inland resorts" which blossomed all over the north of England in late Victorian and Edwardian times. With the coming of charabancs and trams and half-day holidays from the mills, such "pleasure gardens" became the destination of hundreds of Sunday School Treats and Friendly Society Trips. And Sunny Vale liked to think of itself as the finest of them all, it liked to market itself as "the playground of the north".

The book is a pleasure to read. It is in not "heavy" in any way. It does not attempt to tell a chronological story or provide a sociological analysis of the rise and fall of Pleasure Gardens. It is nothing more than a collection of photographs and reminiscences strung together with a light text : a series of amusements and diversions, a bit like Sunny Vale itself.

Sunny Vale just managed to survive the Second World War but even in the thirties it was spinning into decline, replaced in people's affections by Blackpool and Bridlington. In 1947 the park was sold and in the mid-fifties the various rides and attractions were auctioned off. By the early sixties it had become a site for go-kart racing and stock car racing but that didn't last long either. By the late 1960s much of the grounds were overgrown and forgotten. It was at this time that I took my photograph. It was of what remained of the smaller of the two lakes - the Victoria Lake - strewn with rubbish. I would show it to you but, as I say, I can't find it. Somewhere in my garage or attic it lies lost and forgotten. A bit like Sunny Bunces.


  1. My Granma Martha Farnell, was related to his wife. All of my mothers family worked at Sunny Bunces, my Grandad drove the train and my mother and her sisters worked various places such as the roller skating and the tea rooms. It was a shame that it was allowed to deteriorate in such a fashion, she had many happy memories of their time there.

  2. Anonymous9:41 AM

    During WW2 my mother saw a bomb dropped here but nobody believed her at the
    time. Can anyonr confirm this?

  3. Anonymous11:37 AM

    My mother says she saw a bomb falling here during WW2 as no one believed her
    at the time. I am asking if anyone can confirm this?

    1. my mother told me a buzz bomb landed at Southowram, which is just over the other side of the valley, this might have been it x


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