Two parks, Broadway Fields and Brookmill Park, lie between Deptford Bridge and Elverson Road and run parallel to Brookmill Road. The Lewisham Council’s website tells me that ‘…The fields used to be known as the Deptford Municipal Playing Fields. They were opened in 1932 on a piece of land next to the Kent Water Works…’. I believe that Broadway Fields in Lewisham was laid out in c.2002.
I wanted to explore both parks, beginning with Broadway Fields, and started walking from the Deptford Bridge DLR station. The name ‘Deptford’ reminds us that this was originally a crossing (a deep ford) of the River Ravensbourne, on the road from London to Dover. Today the A2 is still the Dover road but the heavy traffic is possibly unaware of the historic crossing of a river which it cannot see!
Broadway Fields can be easily accessed from the DLR station with paths on both sides of the river, and is completely open to Brookmill Road. It provides a basketball court, a 5-a-side football court, and a concrete table tennis table, but in my view it is a soulless place, lacking in atmosphere, overlooked by blocks of new flats and lying between a busy road, the river, and the DLR.
On all occasions I visited there were people using the facilities but I wonder if they could be more attractively presented? Perhaps some shrubs, or better maintained planting along the river? But perhaps it also needs time to pass for the trees to grow. The flats seem to have a lot of young residents – could they be drawn into a ‘Friends’ group and taught about gardening? An enquiry to Glendale Management, responsible for the maintenance of the park, about the possibility of setting up workshops on gardening has not been answered – and yet they profess an interest in communities!
New trees have been planted, 12 in total; Scots pine (blue), Alder (yellow), Redwood (red), and London Plane (purple), but I wonder if more could be done. The Ravensbourne River can’t be seen and obviously needs to be railed off, but nothing draws one’s attention to it, and how attractive it is, and the area alongside the river is messy rather than wild.
After Broadway Fields the path leads along and then over the river to the Stephen Lawrence Centre, before arriving at the formal gardens in Brookmill Park.