This long linear park in Brent Cross West looks like it’s been created as a brand new park for the new housing developments going up at the moment. However, the park has been here for at least 80 years, although it was recently substantially refurbished.

The park originally emerged about a century ago as undeveloped land when this part of London was still all fields.

To the south is a row of houses built in the 1920s-30s, and to the north at the time was a large area of land given over to regimented rows of allotments, while the rest was still fields. The area to the north soon industrialised, and until recently was a wide swathe of low-rise warehouse sheds, leaving a long thin strip of parkland between the old houses and the new warehouses.

And the park has been there ever since, a long line of rough grassland with some trees and bushes to break up the space, but not much more than that.

The radical change it underwent in recent years is tied in with the large housing development to the north of the park that is replacing the old warehouses with loads of blocks of flats. As part of the redevelopment, it was agreed that part of the park would be built on if the rest of it got a substantial makeover.

The long unremarkable park has been sculpted with new hills, a large pond and a large play area.

A new pavilion sits to one side, providing an ice cream parlour and, unusually for public parks these days, public toilets. The ribbons on the front are an artwork created by London artist Hanna Benihoud as a decorative rainscreen.

Although rather dry on my visit, there’s also a long depression along the northern edge called the swale, which will collect rainwater in a long stream-like feature, and support the water-loving plants that surround it.

That’s also lined with a lot of young trees in a patch currently called “woodland”, a title it may well deserve in a decade or so. What will probably be an exciting path to explore is currently just a dirt track through the grasses, but again, give it time.

Whether I am reading too much into it, or it’s a clever idea, but they’ve used some of the heavy stones as barriers on the pavements to stop cycling at speed around the area, and looks a lot nicer than the bland steel fences you’d usually see in parks.

The park now creates a link between the new Brent Cross West railway station and the existing housing to the east of the station and eventually for the new housing as well.

Claremont Park reopened in June 2022 and was designed by Townshend Landscape Architects and HTA Design.

The part that was lost is around the corner away from the main park, where it had a small rough extension overlooking Brent Terrace, but it has now been built on as new flats.

The older houses on Brent Terrace are quite interesting as they look like a conventional row of Victorian houses, until you realise they’re backwards.

What would elsewhere be the back of the house is here used mostly as the front. There is a path on the other side, which faces onto the main railway, and I had initially assumed the houses were built conventionally facing a road on the other side, which was removed by the railway. However, they were built after the railway, and seems the builders assumed people would use the path for their main entrance, but the occupants had other plans and reversed the way the houses are used.


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