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Albert Gardens Tower Hamlets

Summary

Albert Square was built in the early 1840s, renamed Albert Gardens in 1937. In 1899 there was a proposal to build houses on the central garden in the square but the LCC compulsorily purchased the land and opened Albert Square Garden to the public in 1902. In the north of the garden is a C19th drinking fountain topped by a statue, 'Shepherd Boy', which was erected in 1903 by the MPGA.

Basic Details

Previous / Other name:
Albert Square Garden

Site location:
Commercial Road, Stepney

Postcode:
E1 ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Garden Square; Public Gardens

Date(s):
1831-41; 1902

Designer(s):

Listed structures:
LBII: Albert Gardens 1-16 (consec.) and area railings, 17-28 (consec.) and area railings, 29-39 (consec.) and area railings; drinking fountain in Gardens

Borough:
Tower Hamlets

Site ownership:
LB Tower Hamlets

Site management:
Leisure Services, Parks and Open Spaces

Open to public?
Yes

Opening times:
8am - dusk

Special conditions:

Facilities:

Events:

Public transport:
London Overground/DLR: Shadwell. Bus 15 (check others)

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/08/2013
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.towerhamlets.gov.uk

Further Information

Grid ref:
TQ355811

Size in hectares:
0.2766

Green Flag:
No

On EH National Register :
No

EH grade:
None

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
No

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:
No

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:
Yes

Local Authority Data

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:
No

In Conservation Area:
Yes

Conservation Area name:
Albert Gardens

Tree Preservation Order:
No

Nature Conservation Area:
No

Green Belt:
No

Metropolitan Open Land:
No

Special Policy Area:
No

Other LA designation:
London Squares Preservation Act, 1931

Albert Gardens

Shepherd Boy statue in Albert Gardens, September 2010. Photo: S Williams

Click photo to enlarge.

Fuller information

Of the many squares developed on either side of the Commercial Road in the early C19th, Albert Square remains almost intact. The terraced houses around three sides of the square were built in the early 1840s. In June 1899 there was a proposal to build houses on the central garden in the square but, following an appeal to the LCC by the Limehouse Board of Works, the ground was eventually saved 'for the public benefit'. The LCC's Parks and Open Spaces Committee was keen to preserve the garden in an area with relatively few public open spaces but the landowner's initial asking price was too high. It was not until November 1900 that the LCC applied to compulsorily purchase the land, and a price of £10,560 was agreed. Works to the garden included provision of a drinking fountain and two additional entrances at a cost of £650. Albert Square Garden was opened to the public in March 1902, with an opening ceremony presided over by John Piggott. It was declared open by Mr Ben Cooper who according to the report in The Times on 25 March 1902 said 'he hoped the time was not far distant when the borough councils and the London County Council combined would bring pressure upon Parliament to give the latter authority power to acquire compulsorily the open squares of the metropolis'. Albert Square Garden was renamed Albert Gardens in 1937 when the LCC was rationalising street names in order to avoid duplication.

The garden retains its mature plane trees and is now enclosed by replacement railings. It has a single perimeter walk, and is divided into two enclosures. The south enclosure has a cast-iron C19th drinking fountain. The north side is set to lawn with a C19th (now disused) drinking fountain topped by a statue of Shepherd Boy, inscribed 'DFF' upon the base, made in Paris and erected in 1903 by the MPGA. In early 2013 plans for improving the gardens were put forward for public consultation, but to date work has not commenced (August 2013). If undertaken, the work will include relocating the children's play area to the centre of the park and installation of new play equipment, improvement to signage and park furniture, new paths, restoration/cleaning of the historic drinking fountain and statue and some planting.

Sources consulted:

Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Tom Ridge, Central Stepney History Walk, (Central Stepney Regeneration Board) 1998; Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928; Albert Gardens Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Guidelines, October 2007; 'An East-End Open Space' The Times, 25 March 1902

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