When James Witham Thompson died in 1920 at the age of 77, he generously bestowed money to the Burnley Corporation to build a park for the town’s residents.
One day as he was travelling on the top deck of one of the town’s trams, he glanced over at the grounds here and thought they would make an excellent spot for a park. His generosity and vision created a lasting asset for the town, which is now grade II listed in recognition of its significance.
Burnley was never a major target during the Second World War but occasionally German planes would stray over the town after returning from Liverpool. On 27 October 1940, a bomb was dropped on Thompson Park, one of only two bombs to hit Burnley during the entire war. The air raids were sounded and luckily nobody was hurt. The following morning the people of Burnley assessed the damage, a large crater was left and the windows of the college and houses nearby had been blown out.
Thompson Park is an important green space; nowhere in Burnley will you find a wider range of tree species. Bordering the towpath it contributes to the canal's role as a wildlife corridor, connecting green spaces across industrial Burnley. Today the Canal & River Trust maintains the canal and as part of their work they create and improve the banks of the canal as an important habitat, promoting biodiversity.
The water vole is an ‘at risk’ species and they are not often spotted in Burnley, although there is evidence that they are about. Canal banks across the country are being designed to encourage water voles to nest because much of their natural habitat has been destroyed. You are more likely to hear them ‘plop’ into the water than see them.
Last date edited: 21 July 2015