Northbrook Park in Lee

Northbrook Park in Lee, in the Borough of Lewisham in South East London, is a tidy park with good exercise facilities. The park proudly flies its Green Flag Award, one of fifteen Green Flag Awards in the Borough in 2020. This park is just down the road from another surprising green space, the Grove Park Nature Reserve, which I visited last week.

History of Northbrook Park

The Baring family owned land in Lee, including a field known as Ten Acres Field. In 1898 Lord Northbrook offered the field to the LCC for public use to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. A sundial in the Park advertises Lord Northbrook’s gift. This plinth might have been a drinking fountain.

Northbrook Park was designed by Lt Col J J Sexby, the Chief Officer of Parks of the LCC, and a trained surveyor, and opened on 14 March 1903. Lt Col Sexby also designed Deptford Park and Hilly Fields in Lewisham. Sadly he doesn’t, write about this little park in his book ‘The Municipal Parks, Gardens, and Open Spaces of London’, which was published in 1905 after the park had opened.


Northbrook Park in Lee today

I visited on two different occasions – what a difference some sunshine makes!

Northbrook Park from the entrance on Baring Road
Northbrook Park from the entrance on Baring Road
Northbrook Park in Lee information board
Information board at Northbrook Park

Exercise facilities

The centre and main body of the park is dedicated to sport. Inside the iron railings there is a football pitch, a junior football pitch, a trim trail, an outdoor gym, and a children’s playground. Outside the railings is a running track, or path for walking, and at the far end of the park there is a multi-use ball court.


Forest School and Wildlife Area

One corner of the park is called the Forest School, and this part of the park is regularly used by a local school to teach its children a wide variety of skills – about nature and about themselves.

Information board at Northbrook Park in Lee
Information board at Northbrook Park
Wildlife area in Northbrook Park in Lee
Wildlife area

Nature Area

This is called a ‘Nature Area’ but I am not sure what it means, not what happens here. At this moment (December) it looks very bare. This part of the park backs onto railway buildings and land which is fenced off but seems to be ‘wild’ and cannot be accessed

Nature area in Northbrook Park in Lee
Nature area in Northbrook Park

Dog Exercise area in a green flag park

Like many parks today Northbrook Park in Lee has a separate, fenced-off area for exercising dogs off the lead. Dogs and their owners were enjoying the space on all my visits, and it was also spotlessly clean.

Dog Exercise area in Northbrook Park in Lee
A doggy meeting

And in this area a seemingly dormant tree, which I can’t identify, seems to be ready to burst into life!


General views of Northbrook Park in Lee

Northbrook Park in Lee
The park in sunshine!
Northbrook Park in Lee
The perimeter path in Northbrook Park
Northbrook Park in Lee in South East London
Trees with bird boxes

Northbrook Park in Lee is a well-functioning and practical green space in South East London which is well-patronised by local people of all ages. It also has an active and involved group of supporters, the Northbrook Park Community Group.

6 thoughts on “Northbrook Park in Lee

  1. hi Candy, enjoying your posts, I know many but not all the parks in Lewisham and a couple of the South African ones too. I’m in Forest Hill.
    I just had a look at the opening ceremony press reports from March 1903 and there was no mention of a statue. In May 1903 permission was given for the sundial to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee and to acknowledge the gift of land by Northbrook. But no statue mentioned, so the statue plinth (?) remains a mystery for now.
    Tim

    1. Thank you for kind comments – appreciated! This is very helpful; might I ask where you found the press reports? If there had been a statue at the time it would certainly have been mentioned. Nevertheless the ‘plinth’ is an odd thing to find. What I really need is some old photographs. Lewisham Library, including the Archives, is thoroughly closed at the moment, but I have a growing list of queries for when they open! If you notice anything else, particularly in the Forest Hill comments, I would be most grateful.

  2. I’ve been trialling British Newspaper Archive – the article was in I think the Kentish Mercury, and in previous years to 1903 there were other articles documenting the history of the field and the gifting of the land.
    Having found no reference in the press to a statue, it strikes me that the plinth was more probably a water fountain, which would have been commonplace in park design at the time? See for example the elaborate granite one in Mayow Park. I’m not saying it would have been as nice as that, but it seems plausible that it would not have seemed remarkable to the press at the opening ceremony. We’d have to see the plans for design for the park to be sure, but also from 1903 to present someone must have photographed the site – I wonder if Lewisham has photos of the opening ceremony.
    regards
    Tim

    1. Again very helpful. I need to get into Lewisham Library as soon as it opens. A water fountain is good thinking, and this was quite a common ‘celebratory’ feature of public parks.

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