This otherwise fairly ordinary local park is a lingering relic of a grand Victorian pleasure garden that stretched all the way from the river to King’s Road.
Cremorne Gardens developed over time, but was generally open in part as an entertainment centre by the 1840s, and was taken over in 1845 by James Ellis, who massively expanded the site into the pleasure gardens that it was to become. They were noisy and colourful pleasure gardens featuring restaurants, entertainments, dancing and balloon ascents, and could be entered from the north gate on Kings Road or another by the Cremorne Pier on the river.
The site was substantial, with two large halls, a bowling rink, pagoda, circus and circus all in grounds laid out as ornamental gardens. Although relatively successful, the gardens closed in 1877 as they couldn’t really compete with the far more popular Vauxhall Gardens. Also, the locals in Chelsea didn’t like the noise and petitioned for its closure.
Most of the site was quickly built over with housing and streets, but none of that remains either. Not a result of WW2, but the whole area was gutted in 1969/70 to build the Worlds End Estate that dominates the area with its tall towers.
However, one small patch of the gardens was left untouched, and that remnant is the topic of today’s article.
It’s best described as a park of several zones.
Entry takes you into a cobbled area that gives access to the riverside for the next door boating club, but turn to the right and here in this rather municipal look area is a grand iron gate.
These gates once stood at the entrance to the Victorian pleasure ground but were removed, later restored and placed here in 2006.
Behind is a wide open grassland, with deep planting around the edges. The only thing of any note is the “Spontaneous City”, a cluster of 250 bird and bug boxes aiming to create a wildlife haven in this corner. Looking not unlike an overgrown wasps nest, it was made by London Fieldworks as an art project.
Around the side is a riverside walkway, all dark brick and tiled paving, but also leading to a long pier that gives good views of the river.
That pier also being a memory of the old pleasure gardens, where visitors would alight on their way for an evening of fun.