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Bermondsey Spa Park Southwark
Summary: Bermondsey Spa Park was opened in 1954 by the Mayor of Bermondsey, laid out with children's play equipment, trees, shrubs, flower beds including extensive ornamental rose gardens onto Spa Road. Other areas are grassed with some trees and a plaque records a tree planted in 1956. It was created through clearance of terraced housing but was near the former site of Bermondsey Spa after which it is named. These pleasure gardens had been opened in c.1765 and so-called after a spring was found in the grounds. Bermondsey Spa Gardens were refurbished as part of the 1999 area master plan and re-opened in spring 2006 with new seating, lighting, a toddlers' play area, a multiuse games area, a dog walking area, a 333m running track, a plaza and the Ellen Brown Bermondsey Play Centre.
Previous / Other name:
Site location: Spa Road/Grange Road/Alscot Road
Postcode: SE1 > Google Map
Type of site: Public Park
Date(s): 1954
Listed structures: LBII: Bermondsey Municipal Offices; Public Library and attached railings and piers
Borough: Southwark
Site ownership: LB Southwark
Site management: Parks
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: unrestricted
Special conditions:
Facilities: Play area, multi-use games area, running track, Ellen Brown Bermondsey Play Centre
Public transport: London Overground: Surrey Quays then bus. Bus: 1, 78, 42, 188
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2012
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Fuller information:

Bermondsey Spa was on the corner of Rouel Road and Spa Road and was established by Thomas Keyse (1722-1800), a self-taught artist who bought the Waterman's Arms pub here in 1765. He laid out adjacent fields as pleasure gardens providing musical entertainments, fireworks displays, as well as a gallery with art exhibitions of his own works: ‘pictures of green-grocers’ stalls and butchers’ shops’. At that time spas were fashionable and he named his gardens 'Bermondsey Spa' after a spring was discovered in the grounds, although the health-giving properties of its waters were disputed. William Boulton, in 'Amusements of Old London' (1901) attributes his success to ‘his cheery personality, his cheery brandy, his lamps in imitation of Vauxhall, his prima donnas and bulettas’. However, the spa later declined and Boulton also refers to the ‘almost touching description’ by Mr J T Smith at that time when 'Smith himself the only visitor, with his solemn banter of the artist proprietor’s pictures of savoy cabbages and knuckles of veal, and the prima donna in silks and rouge singing her solo according to contract and bowing her thanks for the applause of the audience of one’. The pleasure gardens were maintained after his death until c.1805.

Opposite the park on Spa Road is the Bermondsey Municipal Offices of 1928-30 by Henry Tansley in early C19th Greek Revival Style and the Public Library of 1890-91. The new Ellen Brown Bermondsey Play Centre provides facilities for children and their parents. Ellen Brown was the chair of local forums for many years and contributed greatly to the local community. Bermondsey Spa Gardens won a Green Flag Award in 2007.

Sources consulted:

Frank Keyse, 'Thomas Keyse and the Bermondsey Spa', 1986; John Beasley, 'Southwark Remembered' (Tempus Publishing, 2001); Southwark Listed Buildings data; William B Boulton, The Amusements of Old London, 1901, 2 vols. (facsimile reprint by The Tabard Press Ltd, London 1970), vol.i, pp74, 78; E W Brayley, Topographical History of the County of Surrey; Manning & Bray's History of Surrey
Grid ref: TQ337790
Size in hectares: 2.21
On EH National Register : No
EH grade:
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
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: No
Conservation Area name:
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: No
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation: Local Park, Tier Two

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