London Gardens Online tells me: ‘…The park is named after Margaret McMillan who with her sister Rachel McMillan were pioneers of nursery education. Margaret McMillan Park opened in 1954 and was originally laid out between Watson’s Street and Glenville Grove with a series of lawns along Douglas Way. In the late 1980s part of the park was eroded by housing development and in 1998 improvements were carried out to the park, including a bridge by sculptor John Maine. In 2009 the park was redesigned and re-landscaped as part of Route 1 of the North Lewisham Links project, the works completed in 2010…’.
Douglas Way is the straight ‘spine’ which supports the park – the small section near the New Cross Health Centre, and then the larger part between Glenville Grove and Watson’s Street.
The first section, between Douglas Way and the housing around Turnpike Close, is lovely – green and pleasant, crossed by paths, with comfortable benches, and sensibly planted. The lavender was in full bloom when I visited, accommodating lots of busy bees; senecio was flowering, euphorbia just going over, and hebe. Cherry trees and a large lime tree. It seems to me this is a very good opportunity to develop a ‘Friends of’ group – with a little bit of time the convolvulus could be controlled and the rubbish removed. Even the blank spaces could be planted with cuttings from existing plants.
The housing in Glenville Grove overlooks the park and apparently was built over part of the park in the 1980s – what a lovely view the residents have!
A sculptural feature in the form of a stone bridge, with planting executed with members of the local community, was created by sculptor John Maine RA, at that time Artist in Residence with the design team for Lewisham Town Centre.
The improvements to Margaret McMillan Park were completed in 2010 and included removing larger shrubs, straightening the main footpath through the park and new lighting, in order to improve visibility and safety; new paths and seating have been provided, upgrading of the children’s play area, as well as wooden sculptures and posts. The park’s redesign has won awards including a Civic Trust Award in 2010 for Community Recognition and an award for the Best New Urban Space at the London Planning Awards in 2012.
The park is part of Route 1, a network of walking and cycling routes in Lewisham and Deptford. Route 1 is also called ‘Kender to the Creek’ and consists of 3km of open spaces from New Cross Gate to Deptford High Street, drawing in Fordham Park, Margaret McMillan Park and Douglas Way.
This is an interesting and well-used park and another surprise in Lewisham!
Further information & sources