There are several more green spaces which make up Pepys Parks, in addition to the Lower and Upper Parks previously visited. A gap between the buildings on Grove Street, almost opposite the row of shops, leads to the first green space, and then another gap between buildings leads across Bowditch to Longshore and on to the Foreshore.
Off Grove Street
The first green space, closest to Grove Street and behind the buildings opposite the row of shops, is a raised mound between blocks of flats with rows of trees and a border of shrubs on one side. And hidden behind railings another green space inside blocks of flats.
Walking on between the buildings towards Foreshore reveals an absolutely gorgeous little park, grassy and treed and very peaceful and quiet alongside Londshore. This was included in the Victualling Yards and shows in the OS Survey Map of 1914, published in 1916, as the upper of the two treed areas in the Royal Victoria Yard on the map below. The lower treed area has been partly built over, but green spaces are still there.
The RN Victualling Yard
The Royal Navy’s Victualling Yard was originally (in the 17C) based at the Tower of London, but these premises became too cramped as the Navy expanded rapidly and new facilities were established at The Red House, on part of the Sayes Court Estate in Deptford, from 1673. Over the next century the dockyards expanded and developed extensively. They were renamed the Royal Victoria Docks in 1858 after a visit by Queen Victoria and finally closed in 1961. Sadly the Great Storehouse, dating from 1513 and part of the original docks, was demolished as late as 1990, victim of another multinational corporation, News International.
Between these two blocks of former storehouse and administration offices and leading back to Bowditch is Barfleur Lane. At the top of the lane is the former stable block for the Dockyards and behind the stable block (now private residential accommodation) and on the opposite side of the lane are private gardens.
But halfway down Barfleur Lane there is an unexpected small green space with an enormous old plane tree and lime trees, and in this area there are also beds of shrubs which are thriving in the public areas.
And to ‘exit’ historically we leave through the original dockyard gates on Grove Street.
This historic area, the Pepys Parks, raises big issues of redevelopment and regeneration in my mind and has been the subject of much public debate which is ongoing. The housing is quite dense and I also wonder if there is a role here for local gardeners, in addition to Council or contracted gardening. On a second visit the daisied grass in the park on Longshore was being mown down – what a pity – and if it had to be cut what about cutting paths through the daisies rather than obliterating all that prettiness? The Pepys Parks are absolutely delightful – what lucky people they are to live in this area!
Further information & sources
HM Victualling Yards in Deptford
The controversy surrounding the Deptford Dockyards and redevelopment
Archaeological research in the Dockyards
The history of the area