Salford grew rapidly in the early nineteenth century. Houses were tightly packed into streets close to the factories where the people worked, and the residents of Salford much like the rest of the country, lived with the effects of increasingly polluted air and water. As a result their health suffered. Parks became the first line of defence to improve physical health, wellbeing and strength. The design for Peel Park incorporated space for activities such as quoits and had designated outdoor gymnasiums. Such spaces were strictly segregated into men’s and women’s areas. In time a bowling green and pavilion were added but there was a charge for this activity. The Park Keeper record book shows that in hard winters there would be ice skating when the lake froze. The resourceful gardeners also charged for that.
Rowing was also introduced on the river but it was not an ideal site due to the variations in the river’s depth and flow and this activity moved to Agecroft.
Organised sport became a popular way to combat the ill health that came with Victorian life, and late Victorian Britain is where sport began to develop a professional edge. Manchester and Salford became major sporting centres. Both the Football and Rugby league (The Northern Union) trace their early starts in the city. More so, the Broughton Rangers played matches where the River View is today, and won the Challenge Cup in 1902 and 1911. The David Lewis playing field were created at the north end of Peel Park (now part of the University).
All in all sport was an essential component of Peel Park from day one. The old bowling greens are an ideal area for a kick-about or children’s fun races. The park and riverside walks are ideal for walking and running. For the more adventurous the Salford Trail passes through and links the park to a 50 mile trail around Salford’s green spaces.