150 Years of West Ham Park

150th Anniversary of West Ham Park

West Ham Park is located in the dense urban area of Newham in East London. This year is a special year for the park as it celebrates its 150th anniversary.It will be a very special weekend, and the dates for your diary are 20th and 21st July.

On 20th July 1874 the previously private park was opened to everyone.

Previous owners, the Gurney family, had demolished the house and needed to sell the land, asking £25,000. They wished ideally for the area to be opened to the public, and were persuaded to accept £10,000 when the City of London Corporation also agreed to put up £10,000 and the remaining £5000 was guaranteed by Dr Pagenstecher, the family’s secretary, who then succeeded in raising this amount by public subscription. This shows how much the open space was valued in an economically poor area of East London.

The opening event, on 21 July 1874, was a momentous occasion with great celebrations, attended by the Lord Mayor of London and other dignitaries, and a fanfare of trumpets.

The park area has a long history as an exceptional garden, owned by Dr John Fothergill between 1762and 1780 when it was described as “second only to Kew”. The formal garden, currently 7 acres, contains a permanent exhibition celebrating Dr Fothergill’s legacy and the art of botanical artists whom he employed.

The main areas of the park, totalling another 70 acres, has playing fields, wildlife education gardens, picnic areas and a playground designed around the history of the park and featuring an Explorers’ ship, climbable plant sculptures and a child friendly information panel.

In recent years the park has been managed in an increasingly nature friendly way, and this year the Friends of West Ham Park have obtained grants and donations to plant two more areas of native hedgerow and wildflowers. We will be holding public planting events in the autumn, once ground conditions allow.

To celebrate the anniversary, City of London Corporation (CoLC), which owns and manages the park, and the Friends of West Ham Park (FWHP) are hosting a weekend of free entertainment, music and sport, and possibly even another fanfare! There will also be two guided walks in the historic garden, led by Dominic Cole. The event is bookable through Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/922839918037?aff=oddtdtcreator for the 10.30 tour and https://www.eventbrite.com/e/922853699257?aff=oddtdtcreator for the 12.45 tour.

The weekend events will be opened by Alderman Sir Andrew Parmley, for the Lord Mayor, with Caroline Haines, Chair of the WHP Management Committee, and Newham Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz.

On the Saturday there will be music from up-and-coming artists and a Bollywood group, along with the best local talent, from 12 noon until 6pm.On the Sunday there will be a variety of opportunities to try different sports, including football with West Ham United, and cricket with Capital Kids Cricket. There will also be FWHP’s novelty obstacle race for parent child, or dog and owner. This will take place close to our family picnic area where there will also be a soft play area for small children, face painting and a temporary tattoo artist. Also on display will be the winning entries from our recent photographic competition focused on the park and local community.

All details for the events, including those which it is best to pre-book, can be found at www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/westhampark150

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