Victoria Park has just been voted the people’s favourite park in the country. But what makes it special?
Here are 11 things that might surprise you on a visit.
1. Remnants of old London Bridge can be found there
Two pedestrian alcoves can be found in Victoria Park that are surviving fragments of the old London Bridge – which was demolished in 1831. They are near the east side of the park, close to the Hackney Wick war memorial.
These alcoves were part of the 1760 refurbishment of London Bridge. They provided protection for pedestrians – who were faced with the dangers of traffic and a very narrow carriageway.
These alcoves were introduced into Victoria Park in 1860 and have been Grade II listed since 1951.
2. It just celebrated its 170th birthday
Victoria Park opened to the public in 1845. Plans for the park were laid by planner and architect Sir James Pennethorne. It was intended to be a space for poor people in the East End to get away from the crowded streets of London, and enjoy some rest and relaxation.
3. There’s an unusual drinking fountain
What may seem like any old water fountain is, in fact, of historical importance.
Baroness Angela Burdett-Coutts inherited a huge share of the Coutts bank at a fairly young age.
She paid £5,000, an absolute fortune at the time, to build the drinking fountain. While originally called the Victoria Fountain it is now known as the Burdett-Coutts fountain in her honour.
4. The People’s Park and the political park
Victoria Park has long been known as The People’s Park due to its use by many of the working class in the 19th century. For many, this may well have been the only stretch of green they had ever seen in their lives.
5. The oldest model boat club in the world is based there
The Victoria Model Steam Boat (VMSB) club was founded in 1904, and is still very much in action today. It holds up to 17 Sunday regattas a year, with the first traditionally taking place on Easter Sunday.
6. Victoria Park played a strategic role in the Second World War
During the conflict, Victoria Park was largely closed to the public and became an enormous anti-aircraft site. The guns placed there straddled the path of the German Luftwaffe bombers on route to the docks and warehouses further south in Tower Hamlets .
7. It has a Chinese pagoda
The Chinese pagoda arrived at Victoria Park in 1842. It was built originally in Hyde Park as part of a Chinese festival in 1842. It later moved to its new home on the island in the boating lake.
8. Its had a £12million refurbishment
In 2010, the National Lottery Big Lottery Fund and Tower Hamlets Council undertook the restoration of historic monuments, installed new play equipment, created a new community facility and café, reintroduced the Chinese pagoda, improved planting, built a new skate park and developed better sports facilities.
9. 9million people visited last year
An overwhelming 9million people visited Victoria Park last year – that’s equivalent to the entire population of Sweden.
10. Some of the world’s biggest music acts have performed here
Vicky P has long had a reputation in terms of music. This most likely began when The Clash performed there as part of an Anti-Nazi League event.
Since 2005, Lovebox has been held in Victoria Park, which has seen artists including Blondie, Florence + The Machine, Chaka Khan and Hot Chip wowing crowds and getting everyone dancing.
11. It’s an award-winner
In summer 2008, the park was voted London’s best local park by Time Out.
In 2012, it won its first Green Flag award, and was voted the best park in the UK in the national People’s Choice award. It regained this title in 2014 (narrowly missing out in 2013 and coming second place) and went on to win again in 2015.
Also Online: Victoria Park wins People's Choice Award