|Canning Town Recreation Ground||Newham|
Canning Town Recreation Ground came into being following local pressure for West Ham Borough Council to provide a recreation ground for this rapidly developing area. Originally known as Beckton Park, it was opened in June 1894 by the then Mayor of West Ham, Alderman J H Bethell. It was designed by the MPGA landscape gardener and consisted of three areas united by two east-west walks: a formal area in the north-west with a bandstand, various tree-lined walks, and shrubberies, with a lodge, refreshments pavilion, drinking fountain and toilets. In the north-east was a gymnasium and an open-air swimming pool, the latter built by private subscription; and in the south-east was an open sports area. Various facilities were added, others were replaced, such as the Lido replacing the pool, itself now gone.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2012
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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 park was laid out on former marsh pastureland that covered much of this area. The marshland was opened up to industrial development in the mid C19th after the railway from Stratford to North Woolwich was constructed, an undertaking by engineer George P Bidder. He then purchased the area between Bow Creek and Galleons Reach, part of which was sold for the Royal Docks. Factories began to be built along the riverside, attracted here not only by the rail and river links but also because it was outside the area governed by London's employment and building laws, such as the Metropolitan Building Act of 1844, which prohibited 'harmful trades' in London. As a result housing for the workforce was urgently needed, but what was built was often overcrowded and insanitary, bringing hardship and illness. Social and political activists, including James Keir Hardy, began campaigning to improve conditions in such areas. In 1886 the Metropolitan District Councils were established by Act of Parliament and new councils such as that at West Ham began to address the social issues, including the need for recreational open space, which was then being championed by a number of individuals and organisations, among them the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association, which had been founded in 1882.
Canning Town Recreation Ground was one of the first parks to be provided by West Ham Corporation. The Carnegie Library dated 1905 abuts the park's south east corner. The pool was replaced in 1937 by the Municipal Lido, which on plans of 1960 is shown as an elaborate structure with ponds and fountains. By then the gymnasium had become a playground, which later still became a car park. By 1951 tennis courts, a playground, bowling and putting greens had been added to the north-western area, although the two greens and the bandstand have since gone, as has the Lido. The construction of the A13 as a dual carriageway sliced off the northern boundary of the park including the original north walk and its tree-lined avenue. The bandstand site is marked by a bed of evergreen shrubs, and there remain various mature trees in the park, including avenues of London planes, and the trees planted along the northern boundary are now semi-mature. A cycle speedway track replaced the planting along the eastern boundary adjacent to the library.
Landscape Design Associates Report on Heritage Value of 9 Parks, for LB Newham, July 1997; Newham Parks Review 1998/99