Happy 150th birthday Southwark Park!
Southwark is one of the greenest boroughs in London with more than 130 parks, gardens and open spaces totalling 610 acres of public parkland. Newbie Elephant Park is the largest new park in central London for 70 years – a mere sapling in comparison with the great Southwark Park which celebrated its 150th anniversary in June.
Southwark Park is an English Heritage Grade II-listed amenity that first opened to the public in 1869 and is one of London’s oldest parks. In 1924, it was the centre of some controversy when London County Council refused a request to provide facilities for mixed bathing in the lido. This was due to the lack of suitable changing rooms and concern about undesirable behaviour. However, it was agreed that one day a week could be reserved for sole use by women and girls and in 1929 mixed bathing was allowed on a limited basis. Thankfully, times have moved on and these days facilities are enjoyed by all.
Voluntary community organisation Southwark Park Association pulled out all the stops to mark its 150th anniversary with a programme of events throughout the summer, including a concert, history talk and the burying of a time capsule.
The Green Flag Award-winning park includes a bandstand, two galleries, a running track, a lake, bowling green and nature reserve. It’s certainly a place Elephant Park can aspire too – only another 149 years to go!
Meanwhile, the park at the heart of Elephant Park forms the development’s centrepiece with mature trees, play trails, a performance area and plenty of open green space to relax. It’s already a great spot for the community to come together but it’s sure to grow and evolve as the decades fly by.
In July, London was named the world’s first National Park City with the ultimate goal of becoming 50 per cent green space by 2050.
Southwark is lucky to have such a vast array of greenery on its doorstep. The biggest is Burgess Park – one of the largest in South London – and special because It used to be a highly built-up area of the city. Virtually all the land now occupied by the park was previously used for housing, industry and transport infrastructure, proving that urban areas can embrace and encourage nature. Indeed, Greater London is already one of the world’s most vegetated cities with 47 per cent green cover.
We can’t wait to see what the next century and a half will bring!