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Constructed by soldiers who had returned from the Napoleonic wars and thus named after the Battle of Waterloo.
They were unemployed, so Thomas Nicholson provided work and income to landscape a former quarry. It took two years to build, has an average depth of 60 feet (18m) deep and covers 33 acres (0.13km2). It was originally used for boating, and for a period there were trips around it in a steamboat called the Maid of Athens (which was sunk in the lake at the end of its useful life).
In 1900 this was replaced by an electric launch, the Mary Gordon, which operated until 1923. A cafe was constructed above the boathouse. The lake is now used for fishing, but not boating. The lower part ends in a dam which was once a waterfall but is now a steep grassy bank.
Thomas Nicholson had planned to make a third lake in a hollow which is now the Arena, but had died before doing so. In 1894, it was converted into a sports arena with cycle track, providing work for unemployed people in Leeds. It is overlooked by a mound known as Hill 60, which was so named to commemorate Leeds soldiers who died in First World War battles around Hill 60 near Ypres. It can hold over 100,000 people.
This was the location of large concerts by The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Simple Minds, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Madonna, Level 42, Genesis, Robbie Williams, U2 & Cast, among others.
In the summer, it is used as a cricket pitch.
Within Canal Gardens, and separated by Street Lane from the main area of the park, is a group of glasshouses with areas representing different climates from around the world, which holds the largest collection of tropical plants in the UK outside Kew Gardens.
The main building is Coronation House, so named from the original 1911 building, the year of the coronation of George V. The present construction was built in 1939 and modernised in 1983, re-opening as Tropical World. In July 2008 it was renamed The Arnold and Marjorie Ziff Tropical World. Arnold Ziff gave £30,000 towards its launch.
Tropical World has a butterfly house and aquariums. There are many birds and some reptiles living free inside, and many other animals in enclosures including a popular group of meerkats. A nocturnal house has creatures such as bats which are active at night.
The Monet Garden
Based on the gardens planted by the French Impressionist ‘Monet’ at Giverny in France, this new garden was added to the park by Leeds Leisure Services Department gardeners and landscapers in Summer 1999.
The steel pergola walkway forms the Mansion Lane entrance to the Gardens of the World Complex, which is planned for this area. Other famous gardens from though out the world are to be added to this area including the Kashmiri gardens of the Moghal Emperors (India) and Buddhist temple gardens of the Sampo-in (China).