I have often driven past Folkestone Gardens in Deptford, or whizzed by in the train, but I have not walked there until now. It is an attractive and little park which can easily be missed. The park is nearly fifty years old now and it will be interesting to see how it continues to develop as time passes.
The history of the park
This part of Deptford was a crowded junction and crossing point of two railway lines and the Grand Surrey Canal with housing interspersed amongst these communication networks. In WWII the site was badly bombed and 53 people died. After that it became derelict. The canal closed in 1971 and it was filled in the following year. At this point the Borough Council tackled the problem and created a new, small park of c.6 acres.
The park today
‘…On undulating ground, the park has grass, woodland areas, a belt of Lombardy poplars along the edge, and a group of sycamores in the centre. In the north-west is a large pond with an island with weeping willow. When it was restored in 1994, some of the pond-side plants were taken from the surplus at Hare and Billet Pond on Blackheath. The park supports a surprising diversity of plants and animals considering its size and location…’.London Gardens Trust, April 2019
Large boulders close off the entrance at the northern end of the park. From here a winding path up and down the ‘hills’ leads into the park, past the pond. Wild flowers cover the railway bank in spring and there are flowering trees in addition to the poplars and the weeping willow.
Folkestone Gardens is now part of Quietway 1, a cycle path which runs from Waterloo to Greenwich. As you might expect the route passes through quiet back streets and this is certainly a quiet and unexpected haven along the way.
The Cafe in the Gardens
The Festa Sul Prato Cafe in the gardens looked very inviting indeed but sadly we arrived at the wrong time of day.
The entrance/exit at the southern end of the park is rather insignificant and at this end the railway lines are obvious. At this southern end of the park there is now a skate park, and a colourful children’s play area.
Folkestone Gardens in Deptford is a small park which provided a most enjoyable stroll and I am sure the coffee and snacks would also have been memorable – another time!