|Mile End Park||Tower Hamlets|
Although Mile End Park was not fully opened until 2004, it was planned from the 1940s, included in Sir Patrick Abercrombie's Greater London Plan. King George's Field in the south opened in 1952 on an area of bomb damage, and the adjacent East London Stadium opened in 1966. Some land clearance and tree planting took place over the years, with the northern area landscaped in the 1980s. A concerted plan to complete the park took place from 1995 following successful application for funding from the Millennium Commission. The aim was that it should be a sustainable entity, built for the community and a catalyst for regional regeneration. It consists of a series of distinct areas providing for different activities, linked by a winding pathway.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/09/2013
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Mile End Park, near Green Bridge, August 2010. Photo: S Williams
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Although Mile End Park is a new park for the C21st there were plans for a park here by 1943 and the idea was mooted in Sir Patrick Abercrombie's 'Greater London Plan' in 1944. There was some land clearance by the LCC, and under the GLC trees were planted. Towards the southern end of the new park is King George's Field, a playing field opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1952 created on a badly bombed area as part of the National Monument to King George V, its Portland stone gateway still stands near junction of Rhodeswell Road and Copperfield Road. East London Stadium was built on part of King George's Field and opened in 1966. In 1985 the land became the responsibility of London Borough of Tower Hamlets, and there was sporadic development of the park so that at the end of the 1980s the northern section from Mile End Road to Victoria Park was landscaped into several greens and new Victorian-style gates and railings added, some of which have been incorporated into the new park.
In 1995 when the Millennium Commission called for suitable projects to mark the millennium, there was a concerted plan to complete Mile End Park, with Tower Hamlets Environment Trust at the forefront, forming a partnership with East London Partnership (since renamed the East London Business Alliance) and London Borough of Tower Hamlets. A successful application was made for Millennium funding of £12.33m. The aim was that the new park should be a sustainable entity, built for the community and acting as a catalyst for regional regeneration; it was to be run by a specially set up trust and was planned in consultation with local people. The outline plan, which was produced in November 1995, consisted of a series of distinct areas linked by a winding pathway. These were, from north to south, a Play Area for performances; an Ecology Park with an Ecology Centre; an Arts Park with Art Pavilion and café and outdoor gallery space; a Green Bridge spanning Mile End Road; a Terraced Garden designed as a 'Garden of the Senses, playing on colour, aroma, sound and touch centred around a water cascade'; an Adventure Park; a Sports Park to replace the East London Stadium with a new sports centre and swimming pool; and a Children's Park.
The land where the park is sited also has other historic associations that are of interest. Near the canal and the present site of Queen Mary College on Mile End Road were the New Globe Pleasure Gardens, which opened in 1838 but were closed when the land was sold for building in 1859. The grass mound on the other side of Canal Road (beyond Copperfield Road, behind Bow Common Lane) is on the site of the Chocolate & Confectionery Works of Frederick Allen & Sons where chocolate girls came out on strike in July 1890, assisted by Clementina Black, Honorary Secretary of the Women's Trade Union Association; the strike ended after 2 weeks with concessions made by Mr Allen. In all there were once 1,500-2,000 houses on the site. Much of the area was badly bombed in WWII and some of the less badly bombed areas of housing to the north and south were cleared. More recently the area near the new Green Bridge was the site of the innovative temporary public art work 'House' by Rachel Whiteread.
Creation of the new Mile End Park began in 1998 and it opened in phases from 2000. Phase I, which comprised the Green Bridge and Terraced Garden, was open in 2000. Work on Phase II began in 1999 to create the Arts Park and Ecology Park, which were open in 2001. The Children's Centre and Park was open in 2002 and the Adventure Centre in 2004. The Friends of Mile End Park had held its first AGM in 2000 and in 2001 the park won a London First award, a Special Commendation Prime Minister's Award and a commendation at the British Construction Industry Awards, the Green Bridge also receiving an Institute of Civil Engineers Award of Merit. In 2005 a rare orchid was found in the Ecology Park and damsel and dragon flies were found to be on the increase.
The park has won the prestigious Green Flag Award a number of times, most recently in 2013.
Tom Ridge, Central Stepney History Walk (Central Stepney Regeneration Board), 1998. King George V National Memorial, 'King George's Fields Foundation Final Report, 1965; 'History of the King George's Fields Foundation' and other information on www.fieldsintrust.org