my favourite parks – victoria park – the people’s park

last week i posted about my favourite streets and how i discovered the synchronicity between their history and what became my future, this got me reminiscing more about the time when i first came to live in the uk and spent my days exploring the east end of london with my nanny minnie.

today i take you to victoria park. this park is part of the bank of my first memories of living in the uk, living in london. nanny minnie grew up round here this was her “manor” as such. when we first moved to the uk, both my parents worked full-time, saving hard to get a deposit to buy our first home. nanny minnie gave up her job so that she could care for me whilst they were at work. she would take me everywhere with her, the east end of london became my playground.

vicky park as it’s more commonly known to locals, or even the people’s park was a place where we would spend hours passing the time.

back then there were deer and rabbits that we would take bags full of carrots to feed them. the deer now live out in essex i was told.

there used to also be a lido that over the years fell into disrepair and eventually was demolished and covered over in 1990. however when i was three and the sun was shining this is where you might find me!

we would often meet up with my granddad and great-uncle bill to walk his corgies too.

we would walk to the park either down the regents canal right from my grandparents house, whilst imagining life on a barge, roaming wherever we might just fancy, or after a visit to the roman, roman road market, where we would have filled our bellies with pie, mash and liquor from kelly’s.

the park opened in 1845, after a local mp presented a petition signed by over 30,000 local residents to queen victoria, urging to formation of a “royal park”. the area had a mortality rate that was far higher than the rest of london and there were no open spaces. there was massive overcrowding, highly polluted air from industrial factories, insanitary conditions of a slum population of 400,00. it was believed that parks would significantly boost life expectancy and diminish annual deaths by several thousands. the crown estate purchased the 218 acres and plans were laid by planner and architect sir james pennethorne. it was the city’s first public park, specifically built for the people and was considered to be the finest park in the east end.

along the west of the park is the regents canal, which is the canal we would walk along to get to and from the park. along the southern edge is the hertford union canal that takes you out further east. the northern border of the park lays hackney and to the south the roman road and tower hamlets.

the park is only a mile away from the olympic village in stratford and in the run up to the games a massive 12 million pound refurbishment took place and many of the park’s old features have been reinstated or repaired. the park looks glorious so what better place to head on one of the first days of spring.

the west boating lake

one of the bench’s where we would have sat and fed the ducks and a park plaque

pennethorne’s bridge and the chinese pagoda

the orginal pagoda had been built for as an entrance to the chinese exhibit in hyde park 1842, and in 1847 it was purchased for victoria park. the pagoda was severly damaged in world war II and finally removed in 1956. the bridge that pennethorne had designed was never built. during refurbishments of the park in the run up to the olympics, a new pagoda was built on the original site, the lake reopened and the bridge was finally built.

the dogs of alcibiades

they guard bonner gate, which bridges the entrance of the park to sewardstone road. these are replicas as the originals were removed in 2009 due to vandalism.

both burdetts coutts fountain and the band stand have been fabulously restored.

the east fishing lake & windmill

the wheel park

cadogan terrace

along the walkway that parallels cadogan terrace are two pedestrian alcoves, these are surviving fragments of the old london bridge, which was demolished in 1831. the are just alongside the hackney wick war memorial. these alcoves were given grade II listing in 1951.

and what park would not be complete without a tavern for the people. the britannia, built in 1865 and originally went by the name of the queens hotel.


    • March 11, 2014 / 21:53

      it’s had it’s moments, i do hope they keep up looking after it and dont’ let it fall apart now that the olympics have gone

  1. March 10, 2014 / 12:42

    Oh man…. You’re making me want to jump on the train right now and explore as I haven’t been here for a good 20 years… Beautiful post and absolutely stunning photos too! x

  2. March 10, 2014 / 13:20

    Oh wow it looks amazing at Victoria Park, not visited for some time – clearly missing out! Not surprised it’s one of your favourite parks. Great story too, love it. Thank you so much for sharing with #whatsthestory

  3. March 10, 2014 / 15:01

    Ok now with this and your previous post I really do need a guided London tour by you!

    • March 11, 2014 / 22:02

      doesn’t it look good? they have spent a lot of money bringing it to life, it’s a joy to see it x

  4. March 10, 2014 / 16:56

    I love finding new places in London. My favourite ‘Me Time’ is to get lost in a new area of London and discover new places to love. I have never been to Victoria Park but I reckon now I’ve read this I’ll end up going there and pretending I found it by accident… I won’t tell if you don’t!

    • March 11, 2014 / 22:03

      let me know when you go and i’ll pretend to bump into you πŸ˜‰

  5. March 10, 2014 / 21:17

    Your photos are absolutely stunning and it’s lovely to find out a little more about London’s Parks, especially when you’ve only been to three or four of them x

    • March 12, 2014 / 21:27

      thanks carolin, looks like i might have to do a tour!

  6. March 10, 2014 / 23:07

    So this is where your lovely Silent Sunday photo comes from. A great park indeed.

  7. March 11, 2014 / 07:35

    What a beautiful park and equally beautiful memories. You have made me think about the park I spent many a childhood day in

    • March 12, 2014 / 21:28

      it is lovely going back in time even if just for a moment x

  8. March 11, 2014 / 07:53

    Ahhh, this is just a gorgeous post. Your photos really do the park justice, and it’s so nice that as well as your own personal history and connection, you know so much about the broader history of the park too. It’s a shame they’ve let the lido go – chilly outdoor swimming seems to have had a bit of a resurgence recently, if my friends are anything to go by, so it’d be nice to see them resurrect it. xx

    • March 12, 2014 / 21:29

      there’s a really great playground for the children in it’s place, which has a fab water area so not all is lost!

  9. March 11, 2014 / 14:01

    Ah I love Vicky Park, there’s so much to do there. Love looking at your lovely photos and reading about what you did as a kid and the history of the park. A lovely post, thank you x

    • March 12, 2014 / 21:30

      the park has come through the wars and out the other side hip hip hoorah!

  10. March 11, 2014 / 20:40

    thankyou for taking me back to my childhood, my uncle used to run a pub very near and I used to love visiting the park

    • March 12, 2014 / 21:33

      oooo which pub? do you remember the deer and the rabbits? and the big boat shape swings that would sit about 8-10 people? oooo too many questions!

  11. March 12, 2014 / 10:56

    Wow, what stunning photos and such a great story too. I think we might have to make the effort to visit next time we’re in London, it looks absolutely amazing πŸ™‚

  12. March 12, 2014 / 14:57

    What a beautiful park. I’ve never been there before but your pictures make me want to visit, they’re beautiful.

  13. March 13, 2014 / 22:51

    What a lovely snapshot of your past, and what fab pics. One of the things I love most about London is its parks, just incredible! x

    • March 15, 2014 / 11:24

      we are very lucky to have such great open spaces in london, especially now that people seem to be sitting up and paying attention and giving the park the attention they need to keep them in order and truly beautiful spaces πŸ™‚

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