Monday, June 17, 2024

Southwark Park

Caryatids of the Old Rotherhithe Town Hall
The Caryatids of the Old Rotherhithe Town Hall.

Opening to the public on June 19, 1869, Southwark Park covers 26 hectares and is Grade II listed. It stretches from Jamaica Road, to the north, to Hawkstone Road in the southeast.

Southwark Park, has two entrances on Jamaica Road, Christchurch Gate, named after a nearby church, and Paradise Gate. Christchurch Gate was designated an entrance in 1903, but following damage in World War II it was replaced with a new gate, modelled on the original, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund restoration in 2001-2002.

Southwark Park Bandstand
Southwark Park Bandstand.

Entering through Christchurch Gate the path divides, with one that leads you on a tree-lined avenue around the park, while the other leads you to the Bandstand. This Bandstand was acquired, in 1884, from the Great Exhibition in South Kensington and placed in the park. During the summer months free concerts are held here.

Caryatids. One representing Oak and the other Laurel.

Continuing south from the Bandstand you suddenly come across some stone pillars, hidden among the trees. These are Caryatids that originally flanked the the main entrance of the old Rotherhithe Town Hall. They were placed here in 2011. Continuing on there are tennis courts to the west, while a bowls club, hidden behind manicured hedges, takes up a small area at the centre of the park. 

Jabez West Drinking Fountain
Memorial to a working-class man.

Then there is the polished grey granite Jabez West Drinking Fountain, which is a memorial to a working-class man. 

Gateway from Carriage Drive
A simple gate.

Jamaica Gate stands at the west end of Carriage Drive, which now divides the park into separate spaces.

Flower Trough
A Southwark Park flower trough.

This southern park is where you will find the Ada Salter Rose Garden and The Lake. 

The Lake from the Rose Garden
The Lake from the Ada Salter Rose Garden terrace.

The Lake was added to the park in 1885 and was further enlarged in 1908, when it was adapted to become a boating lake. 

In 1934 The Rose Garden replaced a bedding area around The Lake, and was commissioned by Ada Salter as a peaceful area for people to relax. In 1942 it was renamed in memory of his wife.

Following the path around the bottom of the lake you find the Boating Pavilion, while to the south pitches and a Sports Centre stretch out towards Hawkstone Road. Continuing you find yourself at the Cafe and, a short distance further, an Art Gallery that is free to visit.

Onwards signpost
Onwards in all directions.

The path now splits with one leading to the China Hall Gate entrance and the Sports Centre, while the other continues around The Lake towards a small playground, which easily caters for toddlers and children up to 14 years old.

Heading north, now, a Wildlife Garden takes up the eastern side of the park, and is open on weekends, while The Lake and Ada Salter Rose Gardens are now on your left.

The Lake from the south
Looking north.

Recrossing Carriage Drive the path now leads you up through the green spaces to the Paradise Gate entrance and Jamaica Road.

It is a wonderful park with lots to offer and supports a wide variety of wildlife, Coots, Heron, Swans, Mallards and Geese call The Lake home, while Parakeets, Jays, Woodpeckers and more can all be seen, or at least heard, in the trees.

A bird box
Bird box humour.

Ada Brown (1866-1942) moved to London in 1896 and met Alfred Salter. They married in 1900. They were both committed to the eradication of slums with Alfred, being a Doctor, focussing on diet, health and clinics, while Ada focussed on houses, gardens and trees.

In 1909 Ada became the first woman councillor in Bermondsey.

Tragically, their daughter Joyce, born in 1902, contracted Scarlet Fever and died in 1910.

In 1922 Ada the first woman mayor in London and the first woman Labour mayor in Britain. Alfred was elected as a Member of Parliament in the same year.

Over the next 12 years Ada's Beautification Committee saw the streets of Bermondsey lined with trees, while open spaces were filled with flowers. As this progressed the Housing Committee began replacing the Tenement Slums with houses with gardens.

In 1934, as Ada was now on the London County Council, Herbert Morrison put her in charge of all of London's parks and open spaces. Ada saw to it that parks all over the capital were improved with new trees being planted and flower beds installed. 

Tree of Heaven
Ada Salter tree of heaven and memorial stone.

But it was Southwark Park for which she ad a particular fondness, designing an Old English Rose Garden, with a rose-covered pergola and a terrace overlooking The Lake.

Ada Salter Memorial Stone
Ada Salter memorial stone.

Following her death London County Council renamed the garden the 'Ada Salter Garden'. Bermondsey Borough Council paid tribute to Ada by planting a 'tree of heaven', one of Ada's favourites, and a memorial stone. 

No comments:

Post a Comment