Into the 20th century Bostall Gardens stood in farmland. It is an extraordinary thought for a London borough!
A brief history
This area around the park has probably been farmed or grazed for hundreds of years. Boston Farm is on William Mudge’s map of 1801 and in the 1860s both Suffolk (Place) Farm and Bostall Farm are listed. Bostall farmhouse was a typical weatherboarded Kent building.
In 1887 the Royal Arsenal Co-Operative Society bought the 52-acres Bostal Farm for £6,200 and in 1899 they added the adjacent 1,225 acres of Suffolk (Place) Farm. The aim was to produce goods for sale in Co-Op stores. Cowsheds were converted to piggeries and tomatoes and cucumbers were grown in greenhouses.
But Plumstead was expanding eastwards and in 1900 the construction of the Bostall housing estate had started. The area of the farm under today’s park was left as farmland with a thatched barn. In 1938 the site was bought by the Woolwich Borough Council and after WWII it was made into Bostall Gardens which opened in 1952.
The park was originally laid out with paths, flowers and lawns and over time a bowling green, toilets and terraces were added. The arms of the Council remain on the gates.
A council nursery stood at one end of the site but closed down in the 1980s. At the same time the bowling green was closed and the park keeper left. Today this is the Bostall Community Gardens.
In 2004 the pavilion was refurbished and the children’s playground and tennis courts replaced the bowling green.
The recreational facilities
There is a large children’s playground in the park and two all-weather tennis courts. There is also outdoor gym gear and an all-purpose ball court. The Pavilion is for community events.
The garden is on a terrace above the recreational facilities – trees and lawn, with some seat – and a few shrubs. At the entrance is a strawberry tree which is quite unusual.
Bostall Gardens is a pleasant green space amongst housing but the park is dominated by the recreational facilities. The tennis courts in particularly overwhelm the green space – the bowling green would have been more attractive!