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Plaistow Park Newham

Plaistow Park

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Part of Plaistow Park is on the grounds of the former Essex House, which dated back to Tudor times, demolished in 1836. West Ham Council acquired the land to create the public park, which opened as Balaam Street Recreation Ground in June 1894. It was laid out to designs of the MPGA's landscape gardener, providing ornamental gardens, recreational and children's play areas, one of a number of parks provided in the Borough in the 1890s. It was later extended in the north and east, and new facilities have been added over the years. Although it has lost its bandstand and other original features, the ornamental garden with fountain and radial paths at the north-east corner is largely intact. It was renamed Plaistow Park in 1999 when restoration works took place.
Previous / Other name: Balaam Street Recreation Ground
Site location: Greengate Street/Balaam Street, Plaistow
Postcode: E13 0AS
Type of site: Public Park 
Date(s): 1894
Designer(s): MPGA landscape gardener
Listed structures: LBII: Essex Lodge, railings and gate to lodge
Borough: Newham
Site ownership: LB Newham
Site management: Parks Service
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: dawn to dusk
Special conditions:
Facilities: Play area, multi-use games area, football pitch, paddling pool
Public transport: Tube: Plaistow (District/Hammersmith & City). Bus: 5, 15, 15b, 147, 241, 262, 276, 325, 330, 473.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2012
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Fuller information:

The name Plaistow was first recorded in 1414, and is thought to mean 'play place' or a place where people gathered for play. By 1777, there was a settlement of 150 houses in Plaistow, which was the southernmost ward of West Ham, and until the mid C19th the land was largely used for agriculture. Part of Plaistow Park is on the grounds of the former Essex House, which dated back to Tudor times. The old mansion was demolished in 1836 and the present Essex Lodge (c.1840) was built from some of the materials. Part of the land was being used for a tram depot. At the request of local residents, West Ham Council acquired the land to create a public park, which was then laid out by the unemployed of the borough to the designs of the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association's landscape gardener, providing ornamental gardens, recreational and children's play areas. The park was one of a number of parks developed by West Ham Borough in the 1890s and was originally known as Balaam Street Recreation Ground; it was opened on 7 June 1894 by Alderman J H Bethell, Mayor of West Ham, on the same day as Canning Town Recreation Ground (q.v.).

The main entrance was at the north-western corner on Balaam Street where the formal ornamental gardens were located, and these remain largely intact today. This formal area consisted of a circular garden, fountain and radial paths largely surrounding by shrubs, with a path running from the fountain to a bandstand, which was the central focus of the park, in an area planted with trees and shrubs. From here a perimeter walk ran around the rectangular area that made up the rest of the park, with a further avenue, partly tree-lined, running from the bandstand to the south-east corner. Neither this avenue nor the bandstand exist today, and the perimeter and other paths have been altered over time. Since its original layout the park has been extended in the north on the former site of a school and houses, the original boundary marked by a line of trees, and also at the eastern end. This extension provides sports areas and informal grass and trees in the north, and in the east a fenced play area and Playarc, a self-contained play centre that runs children's activities. New entrances have been created in the east onto Greengate Street and in the south-western corner. In 1999, much restoration was carried out and Balaam Street Recreation Ground was re-named Plaistow Park.

Sources consulted:

LB Newham Parks Archive; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Bridget Cherry, Charles O'Brien, Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 5: East' (Yale University Press, 2005 ed)
Grid ref: TQ406829
Size in hectares: 3.89
On EH National Register : No
EH grade :
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
On Local List:
In Conservation Area: No
Conservation Area name:
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: No
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation:

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