London Gardens Online describes this park as follows: ‘…Located near the river, the site was once market gardens on the estate owned by the Evelyn family, and was particularly famous for its onions, celery and asparagus. In 1884 the land was purchased for a public park by the LCC, who paid two-thirds of the purchase cost. Deptford Park was opened on 7 June 1897 by the LCC Chairman, Dr W J Collins. The layout was by Lt Col J J Sexby, Chief Officer of the Parks Department, and included several built features that no longer survive. The entrance on Evelyn Street has iron gates and railings and a short avenue of London plane trees, and the structural planting and design is largely intact with a perimeter walk, and perimeter planting of mature London planes…’.
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John Evelyn (1620-1706) first owned the land in this area which was used for market gardening at that time. According to the Deptford Park Masterplan it is stated ‘…This area of Deptford had seen considerable change during the 1800’s with the proliferation of railway lines, the building of the Surrey Canal and continued activity in the dockyards until 1869 when it closed, only to be replaced with a foreign cattle market. The railways enabled more mobility and with them the rapid spread of house building and population growth. LCC [London County Council], noting that if the land was not acquired and turned into a public park it was likely to be developed for buildings, secured the funding to purchase the land and developed the park…’.
There are several entrances to the park these days. The entrance described on LGO from Evelyn Street no longer exists: a hedge closes off the entrance from Evelyn Street, there are no plane trees, and the space is planted like an orchard with quince and apple trees. This new orchard opens on to the perimeter walk which is still planted with plane trees, now mature. And opposite the orchard is an outdoor gym and a play area for children.
The entrance from the north side, on Scawen Street, joins the perimeter walk which continues between an avenue of mature plane trees. Looking out from under the trees over the park one sees a rose garden which will be pretty in a few weeks’ time. And even here there are ring-necked parakeets!
Half way along the west side of the park a small entrance opens to the houses along the continuation of Scawen Road, and at the end of this section is another entrance, on the corner of Scawen and Grinstead Roads. From this side of the park one looks over the playing fields towards the tower blocks of Canary Wharf on the Isle of Dogs.
And at the bottom end of Grinstead Road, near the junction with Evelyn Street is another entrance.
This is a generous, peaceful and beautiful park off a busy main road and well worth visiting!