Southend Park in SE London hides away behind housing in Lewisham where it is another of the surprising green spaces. It could be truly magical if the River Pool is opened up again, and the water feature restored. And perhaps the wild south east corner could be incorporated into the park too?
The history of Southend Park in SE London
[Before the 1950s] ‘…the area was open land through which the River Pool meandered…London Gardens Online, April 2012
…By 1953 housing was built east of the railway and south of Southend Lane, enclosing Southend Park, which then occupied the western part of today’s public park, the eastern part initially partly used for allotments. A paddling pool, footpaths, ponds and a pump house are shown, with a line of trees on the western boundary. By 1971 the park occupied the whole area, with the ponds and pump house still in place in the west and a shelter and toilets now provided, the eastern area shown with banked sides, and a playground in the south east corner…’.London Gardens Online, April 2012
Access to Southend Park
There are two gates into the park and they are locked at night. The entrance from Meadowview Road is clear, but the entrance off Southend Lane is slightly hidden between two blocks of flats.
Lower level of the Park
The park is on two levels: the gate from Meadowview Road leads into a lower level where there is a children’s playground, and a very mossy track. I am uncertain about the purpose of the track but this is a very attractive and secluded area.
Formal features in the park
At some time the appearance of the park must have been quite formal. LGO talks of ‘…remains of a concrete cascade, bridge and pond…’. I think these features separated the lower and upper levels, and the cascade fell from the upper level into a pond which was on this lower level, and is now dry.
The River Pool runs through the park but sadly it is now underground – perhaps this was the source of the water for the cascade? It would make a lovely feature if exposed, like the small stream in Downham Playing Fields.
Upper level of Southend Park
The upper level of the park is more open, with various varieties of trees around the central, grassed playing fields. There is also adult outdoor gym gear, and a small children’s playing area in one corner, but less inviting than the playing field on the lower level. And in the far corner of this level is the area which looks ‘wild’ and seems to be closed off.
Shrubs and trees in Southend Park
There is a wide variety of shrubs in the park, planted around the perimeters, and at the entrances. Trees line the boundaries of the park. I could recognise old willows, limes, cherries, and conifers, amongst others.
Southend Park in SE London is a another delightful small park in Lewisham. It feels very private and the local residents, many of whom live in flats, are fortunate to have this outdoor recreational area in a built-up urban area.