Victoria_park_fountain_1Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets, London, has beaten off stiff competition to be crowned the nation’s favourite park in this year’s prestigious People’s Choice Award, with a record breaking 32,694 votes being cast.

In second place was Mote Park, in Maidstone, Kent and in third place was Margam Park, in Neath, South Wales.

In the vote, organised by the Green Flag Award Scheme, which presents Green Flag status to the best open spaces in the country, Victoria Park came out on top against a staggering 1,482 parks and green spaces in the annual poll. The park has won the Green Flag Award on four occasions.

Victoria Park, now a two time winner of the People’s Choice Award, and also runner up in 2013, is London’s oldest and most important historic parks, visited by millions of Londoners for nearly 170 years.

The park is the largest in Tower Hamlets at 86.18 hectares in area and has one of the highest visitor numbers of all the London parks with around 12 million visits per year.

The Park proposed in 1841

The Park proposed in 1841

Wikipedia offers some interesting facts on the Park’s history….

The original Park was laid out by notable London planner and architect Sir James Pennethorne between 1842 and 1846. The land had originally been parkland, associated with the Bishop’s Palace, but by the mid-1800s had been spoiled by the extraction of gravel, and clay for bricks. It was opened to the public in 1845.he Bridge Association can be seen inside these alcoves. A Lido opened in 1936 and reopened in 1952 following damage during the Second World War; it was closed in 1986 and demolished in 1990. The bathing pond, unused for bathing since the 1930s, is now popular with anglers.

In the latter half of the 19th Century, Victoria Park became an essential amenity for the working classes of the East End. For some East End children in the 1880s, this may have been the only large stretch of uninterrupted greenery they ever encountered. Victoria Park’s reputation as the ‘People’s Park’ grew as it became a centre for political meetings and rallies of all types. Although any one could set up their own soapbox, the biggest crowds were usually drawn to ‘star’ socialist speakers such as William Morris and Annie Besant.

 This description by J. H. Rosney, correspondent for Harper’s Magazine (February 1888) evokes a scene:

‘On the big central lawn are scattered numerous groups, some of which are very closely packed. Almost all the religious sects of England and all the political and social parties are preaching their ideas and disputing […]

On this lawn the listener, as his fancy prompts him, may assist on Malthusianism, atheism, agnosticism, secularism, Calvinism, socialism, anarchism, Salvationism, Darwinism, and even, in exceptional cases, Swedenborgianism and Mormonism.  I once heard there a prophet, a man who professed to be inspired by the Holy Ghost; but this prophet ended by being locked up in an asylum, where he will have to convert the doctor before he can recover his liberty.’

The tradition of public speaking in the park continued until well after the Second World War, and was still later reflected in politically oriented rock concerts. And it is still not uncommon for marches or demonstrations to begin or end in Victoria Park. On 26th June 2014, a campaign to revive the Speakers’ Corner at Victoria Park was launched and a campaign to recreate the well-known tradition of free speech and debate in Hyde Park in East London’s Victoria Park was launched earlier this year.

VictoriaParkStitch2Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, said:

“I am delighted Victoria Park has reclaimed its title as the UK’s best loved open space. It is our flagship park and a fantastic asset which is enjoyed by thousands of visitors and residents alike.”
Councillor Shafiqul Haque, cabinet member for culture, added: “The council works hard to ensure all parks and open spaces are maintained to an excellent standard and the borough has six Green Flag Award winning parks to be proud of. I would like to congratulate the parks team for their dedication and commitment as our parks provide essential recreation, play and leisure facilities.”

The park draws in more than 275,000 visitors a year to enjoy festivals and events which attract international superstars and boasts of a year round community programme. Facilities at the park include children’s play areas, boat hire, both summer and winter football pitches, cricket practice nets, bowling greens and tennis courts, as well as several sports clubs.

Three and a half billion visits are made to parks every year across the UK and they are vital part of communities. The Green Flag Award is a way that the public can be assured they are visiting a clean and well managed green space.


The People’s Choice Top 10 and votes cast were:

1. Victoria Park  (London Borough of Tower Hamlets,England) 13212
2. Mote Park (Maidstone Borough Council, England) 3689
3. Margam Park (Port Talbot County Borough Council, Wales) 3640
4. Cassiobury Park (Watford Borough Council, England) 1695
5. Kings Park (Bassetlaw District Council, England) 1627
6. Whiteknights (University of Reading, England) 1565
7. Bute Park (The City of Cardiff Council, Wales) 687
8. Clissold Park (London Borough of Hackney, England) 642
9. Valentines Park (Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure Ltd, England) 618
10. Millennium Country Park (Marston Vale Trust, England) 464

Old School Gardener