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
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.