Cliffe Castle Park in Keighley is being restored with funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Work started on site in June and I’m following progress and sketching whenever I can.

Sunny summer afternoons – or even not-so-sunny afternoons – are when the park is at its busiest and even now, with the work of the conservation project in full swing, life in the park goes on as always. A little disruption here and there, but for the most part people are enjoying everything as usual.

The bandstand (due for replacement as part of the project) is the stage for regular Sunday afternoon concerts and before it’s demolished I did a very quick sketch, just for the record, of the shape of the building itself. It’s efficient as an amplifier of sound, but it’s seen better days.

I’ve listened to some good music here this summer and enjoyed sketching musicians and spectators, but this last Sunday the bandstand exploded into life when the Fresh Aire music festival used it as the main stage for some terrific bands; this sketch below was Wolf 359, a symphonic heavy-metal rock band who just fizzed with energy and belted out a great dose of powerful sound. I had a great time drawing them:

This year there was a programme of acoustic music in the Conservatory, curated by Mike Green from Sound Of Bradford; I just managed to catch Mila Lee, the last act of the afternoon and I’m really glad I did – she’s an amazingly talented musician and unbelievably only 15 years old. In fact I later discovered that all of these performers are still in their teens – as Mike Green says, the talent to be found amongst young people in our area is simply amazing.

There was plenty more going on than the music though; lots of people in the crowd were wearing beautiful flowery-leafy crowns which were being created throughout the day by industrious pairs of hands – and very skillfully – by the Aire Valley Forest School (who also had a stand about bee-keeping, and I wish I’d had time to have a look at that). I spent a peaceful half hour hidden behind a tree watching and being amazed by their dexterity, marvelling at how they were creating these lovely leafy tiaras out of twigs and stems and flowers.

The park is a wonderful place all year round but it does come to life in the summer, and this year has been one of the best. The Fresh Aire music festival was a huge success, and a massive achievement by the group of voluntary organisers who plan, master-mind and execute it – all thanks to Kaya Kaka Capper and her team. Wow!

More updates on the work of the conservation project, photos, plans, and background information at: and at the Cliffe Castle Park Conservation Group website.