This memorial was erected in 1895 by Farnworth Urban District Council to mark the gift of the park to the town by Robert Barnes in 1864. The Barnes family were one of the largest local cotton manufacturers and played a decisive part in the development of nineteenth-century Farnworth. James Rothwell Barnes had established one of the first cotton mills in Farnworth, and it was his son, Thomas, who took over and further expanded the business after his father's death in 1849. Thomas was a Liberal in politics and supporter of free trade, who served as MP for Bolton on three occasions. In 1860, at a celebration to mark the coming-of-age of his own son, J. R. Barnes, he announced his intention of providing a park for the community, concerned at the rate at which land was being built upon. Such concern might have been seen as premature or far- sighted given that the township's population only numbered some 8,000 and that it did not even possess a local government board. The park was eventually handed over in 1864 in a ceremony that would have been a red-letter day in the history of a Liverpool or Manchester let alone an inconsequential village, somewhere near Bolton, whose affairs had only recently come under the control of a local board.
The platform contained some of Lancashire's most powerful and influential figures, who had come to see Gladstone open the park and, of course, speak. (Barnes had also invited Richard Cobden.) Gladstone did not disappoint them with a speech that ranged over the state of the nation and Lancashire, and included a generous tribute to Barnes' philanthropy, an example of the new relations that had developed between employers and workers. It was an event that celebrated the core Liberal economic and political values whilst providing the beginning of a new identity for this small community.
It was this gift and moment in its history that members of the recently created Farnworth Urban District Council were acknowledging in the memorial. It was designed by the Bolton architects, Bradshaw and Gass, with Barnes (who was still alive) being more particularised memorialise in the bronze bas-relief modelled by the London sculptor, W.C. May. This depicted Barnes at the time of the park's opening and was based on photographs supplied by the family. The monument occupied a prominent position, in the middle of the terrace, approached along the principal walk. The base rose in three stages to the monument itself, the stages being used as planting areas. It was unveiled, somewhat unusually in the evening following a council meeting, by Alfred Topp, whose own considerable services to the community went back to the 1860s.
Commemorates the gift of park from Thomas Barnes in 1864
THIS PARK / WAS PRESENTED BY / THOMAS BARNES / ESQ. M.P.
OPENED / BY THE / RIGHT HON. / W. E. GLADSTONE / M.P. / OCT. 28TH 1864.
"In commemoration of / my son's coming of age / and in memory of his / grandfather. I present / and dedicate this Park / to the people of Farnworth / for their benefit for ever."
PMSA recording information