The public parks of Wandsworth, their history and amenities

Wandsworth is one of the greenest boroughs of London. The territory of Wandsworth contains some of the best public parks and open green spaces in the capital at the present moment, namely:

  • Wandsworth Common

  • Battersea Park

  • Tooting Commons

Battersea Park, coming at a total territory of 83 hectares is the largest open green space in the borough at the present moment. As one can easily guess from its name, the park is right next to the residential and commercial district of Battersea and represents one of the best amenities in the area. One of the really cool things about the park is the fact that it is situated right on the River Thames, on its south bank. Straight on the other side of the river is Chelsea.

In the past the land that is now Battersea Park was occupied by extensive marshlands that were taken from the Thames when the work on the facility began in the middle of the 19th century. Before the completion of the construction, it was frequently used for market place. Furthermore, Battersea Fields as the place was then known, was one of the most popular spots for dueling in London. One of the most famous confrontations that took place here was between the Duke of Wellington and the Earl of Winchilsea, who met here on 21 March 1829 in order to settle a matter of honor. The duel is notable for the fact that both participants did not aim at their opponent when the time came for firing their pistols and later lengthy apologies were written from one party to the other and vice versa. It was quite a sensation in the press.

It was in 1845 when the land was purchased by Thomas Cubbit, who owned an estate nearly. Sir James Pennethorne was commissioned to design the Battersea Park and worked there from 1846 to 1864, even though the official opening of Battersea Park was in 1858. Another cool piece of trivia about Battersea Park is that it was host to the first ever football game that was played according to the rules of the Football Association. This happened on 9 January 1864. A few years later Battersea Park became home grounds to the 1872 FA Cup winners, Wanderers F.C. Today Battersea Park houses travelling fairs and exhibitions, the Grade I listed Victorian Tower known as Pump House Gallery, the Peace Pagoda, as well as the Foodie Festivals. Most recently the park went through an extensive and quite expensive regeneration and refurbishment, paid by the Heritage Lottery Fund. We must say that the results are more than visible.

Wandsworth Common is the second largest park in the borough, taking up a little less than 70 hectares of the whole territory of Wandsworth. Wandsworth Common is the place to go if you like fishing. One needs a permit to fish in the several artificial ponds that are scattered across the park, but usually there is no problem obtaining one. If the weather is good and you are in the mood to chill for a couple of hours in a pleasant green environment, get your rod, pack a couple of sandwiches and do not hesitate to drop by the Common.

Other notable features that make Wandsworth Common a pretty nice park include the Wandsworth Common Windmill. It is a smock mill that currently holds a Grade II listing. The original purpose of the building, which was erected in 1837, was to drain water from the railway cutting during the construction of the London and Southampton Railway. Actually, one of the ponds was filled namely with the water that the Wandsworth Common Windmill drained – that’s the largest lake at the time that went by the name of Black Sea, dug by one Mr Wilson.  The mill was working for several decades, at least until the 1870s, but then its maintenance was seized, the Black Sea itself was drained and filled in.

At present, in addition to fishing, Wandsworth Common is the place to be in case you like cricket. There are as many as three pitches currently in the park that are actively used in the summer for hosting a variety of games. Then again there is also the Wandsworth Common Tennis & Bowls Centre, where you can sign up for tennis lessons all year round, and it is run by All Star Coaching Ltd for Wandsworth Council. The cool thing is that if you sign up for lessons here you get free membership with the British Tennis Association.

In addition, the residential developments around Wandsworth Common contain some of the most desirable properties on the territory of the borough. They are referred colloquially to as the Toast Rack. 

The last major open green spaces in Wandsworth is Tooting Commons, a large area of green land that is between the districts of  Balham, Streatham and Tooting. Tooting Bec Stadium and Tooting Beck Lido, the second largest swimming pool by surface area in the United Kingdom. Even though on first sight one might be left with the impression that Tooting Commons is an entirely wild area, there are a number of formal avenues of trees here that were planted pretty early on in its history. Some date back even to the reign of Queen Elizabeth in the beginning of the 17th century. The common was one of the first that saw deliberate actions for preservation from the authorities, well into the 19th century. At present Tooting Commons is still a place that stands out among other green areas in the metropolitan parts of London. The varied wildlife that lives here has contributed to the status of the common as a Site of Metropolitan importance for Greater London.

They say that you will recognize a good place to live in by the nice parks it has. Well, if that is the case, Wandsworth is definitely great.

Write a comment

Comments: 0