Norwood Park (London)

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Coordinates: 51°25′30″N 0°5′38″W / 51.42500°N 0.09389°W / 51.42500; -0.09389

Norwood Park is a 33-acre park located in West Norwood, South East London. It is situated on one of the highest points in the Borough of Lambeth and, on clear days, offers the visitor a spectacular view over London spanning from Hammersmith in the West to the Millennium Dome in the East.

History[edit]

This high ground was once completely covered with trees as part of an enormous area of native woodland known as the 'Great North Wood', which covered over 1,400 acres of the old County of Surrey. The Great North Wood was originally common land in the Manors of Croydon and Lambeth and most of it belonged to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In the 13th Century the Great North Wood, was (aside from being a food source), "a vital supplier of timber for the Royal Dockyards at Deptford." [1] Today, the only remnant left of this ancient British woodland is found at "Sydenham Hill Wood".[2] "Norwood Park represents the last evidence of the wooded common lands of medieval Norwood." [3]

The Great North Wood "was gradually lost to housing, fields and roads, and by the end of the 18th Century had almost disappeared. The Archbishop of Canterbury obtained an Act of Parliament in 1806 to enclose the remaining common land within the Manor of Lambeth and much of it was built upon. Thirty three acres remained as open space and London County Council acquired it in 1903 to create a new public park to serve the needs of a growing local population in West Norwood and Gipsy Hill. The new park was called 'Norwood Park' and opened officially to the public in 1911. It was designed to retain many features of the old hilly common, along with avenues of trees, hedges, games court and playground." [4]

Norwood Park commands a great view across Dulwich to The City and Central London 7 miles (11 km) away. On a clear day one can see many famous sights such as St Paul's Cathedral, the London Eye and the Shard London Bridge, the tallest building in Western Europe at 310 metres (1,016'). One might even see Alexandra Palace approx. 14 miles away in North London.

Other Features[edit]

Being located by Central Hill and, in larger part, Salters Hill SE19, Norwood Park is quite hilly. Less than a mile away is Westow Street which is one of the highest points in London at 366 ft (111 m) elevation above sea-level. The fifth tallest structure in London, Crystal Palace transmitting station, is about a mile away and clearly viewable from the park. Due to being hilly Norwood Park is not being used to its fullest potential by many but there are some hidden delights. Winter snow provides good conditions for downhill sledging which is popular for locals.

The West End & Crystal Palace Railway line passes alongside the perimeter of the park between Gipsy Hill railway station & West Norwood railway station. In the 60's especially, the railway line area was popular to some locals for trainspotting steam trains.

Trees[edit]

Today, there are around 30 different species of trees in the park including Oak, Horse Chestnut and Sycamore. A "path has one of the best collections of willows in Lambeth, including goat willows, white willows, grey willows and osiers." [5]

In autumn (around the wooded areas) varied species of mushrooms grow and "nearly 300 different wild flowers and ferns, such as honeysuckle, wild clematis, creeping buttercup, white clover and summer snowflake (to name just a few). There's a "willow arbour for bird watching, as well as an avenue of native fruit trees, thickets of wild roses, country hedging, a pond and several sections of meadow land." [6]

Wildlife Team[edit]

A "Wildlife Team" of volunteers, led by John Cotter, work every Saturday throughout the year, rain or shine, from 1-4pm. This voluntary work (being done since April 2001) is to create a "perfect Country Walk" which runs from Finch Avenue (SE27 9TX) to Salters Hill (West Dulwich). Turning a 3-acre area of Norwood Park, once overrun with brambles, "into a ‘Perfect Piece of Countryside’ with all the trees, flowers and ferns once native to London. And with a Country Walk winding through it." [7] Volunteers have created an avenue of native fruit trees, country hedging, thickets of wild roses, ferneries, pond and bog and small meadows. Details of "How to Get Involved" can be found on their 'Norwood-park.org.uk' website and supporters can view their Facebook page ("Norwood Wildlife Team").

Playgrounds[edit]

Norwood Park contains an excellent new playground complex for all ages up to teenage - including a small mini football (soccer) pitch. There is a 'One O'Clock Club' for young children and carers and a volcano-themed paddling pool, but it's not in use for much of the year. (Originally the pool design was simply round, and like the one located at nearby Streatham Common).

Historic photos of children enjoying the pool and playground areas in times past can be viewed online on the 'Friends of Norwood Park' website [8]

Floodlit Astro Turf Football Pitch / Tennis Courts[edit]

For a number of years the football pitch has been used by Flatland BMX'ers who refer to it as 'The Green Mile' or 'TGM' for short.

Transport[edit]

Buses[edit]

Trains[edit]

For visitors to the area, the closest train station to the park is Gipsy Hill.

Nearby roads[edit]

  • Auburn Hill
  • Auckland Hill
  • Central Hill (A214)
  • Elder Road
  • Norwood Park Road
  • Salters Hill (SE19)
  • Gipsy Road (SE27)

References[edit]

External References[edit]