This is a new pocket park built on top of a disused railway viaduct in the heart of Shoreditch.
Known as the Kingsland Viaduct, the railway was built by the North London Railway in the 1860s to allow the railway to run into Broad Street station, next to Liverpool Street station.
However, declining traffic saw it closed in 1986, when Broad Street Station closed. In recent years, the northern half of the viaduct came back into use as the London Overground, but the southern end was left derelict. One bit of the remaining viaduct became famous as the home of four disused tube trains, which are used as offices, but on the south side of the road, the disused railway was left untouched and eventually overgrown.
Recently, a large housing development has been built next to the viaduct. As part of the planning approval, the developer is refurbishing the arches into shops and opening up the top, where the trains used to rumble along, as a public park.
As the new pocket park is up on top of the railway viaduct, there are stairs and a lift to get up there. It’s not signposted (yet) from the street level, and I only spotted it as a seemingly public staircase leading somewhere is something that simply has to be explored to see where it goes.
And those stairs took me into a lovely new pocket park with some pretty decent views over this part of Shoreditch, as well as being nicely laid out itself.
A number of zones have been created for play or rest, with solid looking curving stone seating winding around the garden and lacking the despoiling “pigs ears” usually added to long benches to stop skateboarders from using them.
Lots of bedding runs around the edges and pokes into the lawn areas in a couple of places with plenty of flowing plants, even at this time of year. There are a couple of play areas, with soft ground surfaces and some raised bedding to provide sufficient depth for trees to be added.
It’s smart and considering its location next to the very busy Great Eastern Street, a reasonably quiet space.
However, if being on a disused railway that’s now a pocket park (or if you prefer, a very short High Line) isn’t enough for rail geeks, it also offers a railway bonus in the form of a very good view of the Shoreditch tube trains. Usually only seen from the street level, now you can stand on the opposite side of the railway they sit on and wave across at them.
Towards the back of the pocket park is a building which is intended to become a cafe and at which point, I’d assume for commercial necessity, the elevated park will be more heavily advertised to passers-by.
Until then, it’s a bit of a hidden oasis in the heart of Shoreditch.
You can find the stairs next to the viaduct, which faces onto Great Eastern Street, opposite the famous Shoreditch tube trains.