Cator Park was once part of the extensive Cator Estate, owned by the Cator family from the late C18th. The area that became the public park was laid out as private pleasure grounds principally for the private use of residents on the Cator estate who paid an annual subscription fee. For this reason it was already well matured as a park when the local council purchased the land in 1931.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/12/2006
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.bromley.gov.uk; www.friendsofcatorandalexandra.com
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.
The Cator family were major landowners in Beckenham and also Blackheath from the late C18th. John Cator (1723-1806), a wealthy timber merchant, had become Lord of Beckenham Manor in 1773, where he built Beckenham Place (q.v.). In 1783 he purchased Blackheath Park and began speculative development of the land with smart villas aimed at the wealthy and professional classes, some of which survive set in their large gardens. Wide tree lined avenues were characteristic of Cator's road layout of 1806, and the development of the Cator Estate continued gradually until the 1930s. On payment of an annual subscription, residents on the estate were provided with private recreational facilities at Kent House Pleasure Gardens, which were laid out between 1885 and 1889 with facilities for football, tennis and bowling. In 1931 the local council purchased the pleasure gardens and Cator Park was formally opened to the public in April 1932 by Lawrence Chubb.
Cator Park today consists of a large area of mown grass relieved by shrub beds, clumps of Corsican pine, and park trees. Other park trees are planted singly with recent new plantings to the north. Curving tarmac paths cross the site and lead to the grassed children’s play area on the west side of the park. The River Pool, canalised in concrete, runs north/south through the centre of the park, bounded by iron railings. Cycle route 21 runs through the site as does the Green Chain walk. The park, with two football pitches, was once an important venue as the home ground for local football teams including Beckenham United, which formed in 1974 and was once successful in the Metropolitan Sunday League. The nursery later occupied the former football changing rooms. The Friends of Cator Park and Alexandra Recreation Ground were established in 2008 to encourage better care of both parks, and organise a variety of activities.
Andrew Crowe, 'The Parks and Woodlands of London' (Fourth Estate, 1987) p294; An A to Z of Bromley's Parks, Local Open Space & Woodland, LB Bromley, 2007?