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Belvedere Recreation Ground (Belvedere Recreation Ground South and Belvedere Splash Park) Bexley
   
Summary: Until the mid C19th the area of Upper Belvedere was farmland, with few buildings on the Abbey ridge apart from Abbey Farm and a staging inn. Housing was built from the 1860s aimed at more affluent residents, with villas in good-sized plots and landscaped road verges along Woolwich Road. Belvedere Recreation Ground dates from 1896 and is in two parts north and south of Woolwich Road. The north part had a bowling green, a boating lake later becoming a paddling pool and bandstand, the latter becoming the site of a sandpit with surrounding lime and horse chestnut trees. The old paddling pool is now Belvedere Splash Park. The south part of the park is now predominantly playing fields but at one time had a bandstand and tennis courts, but the path layout is little changed and mature trees include horse chestnut and a fine copper beech.
Recreation Ground, Belvedere, postcard 1905. Courtesy Bexley Local Studies & Archive Centre
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'The Lake, Belvedere', postcard 1911. Courtesy Bexley Local Studies & Archive Centre
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Paddling Pool of Belvedere Recreation Ground North Side, postcard c.1930. Courtesy Bexley Local Studies & Archive Centre
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Previous / Other name:
Site location: Woolwich Road/Heron Hill/Albert Road, Belvedere
Postcode: DA17 5ER > Google Map
Type of site: Public Park
Date(s): 1896
Designer(s): Harold Hind, surveyor to Erith UDC
Listed structures: Local list: Drinking Fountain
Borough: Bexley
Site ownership: LB Bexley
Site management: Parks and Open Spaces; Belvedere Forum
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: 8am- dusk. Splash Park open 11am-6pm May-September
Special conditions:
Facilities: Belvedere Splash Park, kiosk, toilets in north. South has 1 hard tennis court; children’s playground which is a dog free zone
Events:
Public transport: Rail: Abbeywood then bus. Bus: 99
Recreation Ground, Belvedere, postcard 1905. Courtesy Bexley Local Studies & Archive Centre
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'The Lake, Belvedere', postcard 1911. Courtesy Bexley Local Studies & Archive Centre
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Paddling Pool of Belvedere Recreation Ground North Side, postcard c.1930. Courtesy Bexley Local Studies & Archive Centre
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The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/02/2011
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.bexley.gov.uk

Fuller information:

This area of Upper Belvedere along Woolwich Road began to be developed from the 1860s onwards, the new houses along the Abbey ridge designed to attract more affluent residents, with good views over the Thames. In 1843 the area was farmland, with few buildings apart from Abbey Farm and an inn on the site of the Eardley Arms that had a forge, wheelwright and house to its rear, which served as a staging post for travellers on the Woolwich Road between Woolwich and Erith. Heron Hill existed as a well-established route to and from the Thameside marshes and gravel was extracted in the area that is now the site of the northern recreation ground. By 1860 new housing development at Upper Belvedere began with the building of Alexandra Terrace (Nos. 13a-19 Woolwich Road), and the 1871 Census recorded a few more businesses along Woolwich Road, including a wine and beer merchant, a bakery and Oxley’s the Draper, whose shop front survives.

In the 1880s a number of large villas were built, as well as a police station. Residential development had begun to the west of the Eardley Arms with Gloucester Villas and Gloucester Road built in the 1860s, large semi-detached villas set in good-sized plots. Residential development also spread west along Woolwich Road from Alexandra Terrace. The houses, set back from the highway with front gardens and substantial rear gardens, were built to attract the wealthier families, possibly of the professional classes or the managers or owners of businesses in Erith and Woolwich. The layout and setting of the houses was further enhanced by the provision of recreation grounds, north and south of Woolwich Road, and a series of landscaped grass verges were laid out along the roadway, all no doubt designed as an added incentive to attract well-to-do residents.

Belvedere Recreation Ground dates from 1896 and remains in two parts, north and south of Woolwich Road. The north part of the recreation ground was laid out with floral displays, a bandstand, toilets, and a large paddling pool surrounded by lime trees. The site of the bandstand, demolished since the late 1950s, became a sandpit surrounded by mature horse chestnut trees. The paddling pool has been upgraded to Belvedere Splash Park 'the largest free access public wet play park in the United Kingdom'. Its features include a lagoon surrounding a desert island, a safety surfaced beach equipped with water sprinklers, showers, bubble jets and sprays. In the park is a drinking fountain dedicated to the Reardon family c.1880 provided by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain Cattle Trough Association, which was originally located on Woolwich Road before it was moved here. Young London planes have been planted along Woolwich Road. The south side of the park is predominantly playing fields, although once had a bandstand and tennis courts. The path layout is little changed and trees include horse chestnut, yew, ornamental conifers and a good copper beech. The south area may have been the location for air raid shelters. There is a boundary wall of burnt brick fragments.

Sources consulted:

H. Jordan 130; LB Bexley, Woolwich Road Conservation Area, Area Appraisal and Management Plan, 2008
Grid ref: TQ489783
Size in hectares: 2.13
   
On EH National Register : No
EH grade:
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
No
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
No
 
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
On Local List:
In Conservation Area: Yes
Conservation Area name: Woolwich Road
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: No
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation:
   

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