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Latchmere Recreation Ground Wandsworth
   
Summary: The Latchmere Estate was built from 1903 on former commonland, which had been gradually encroached until all that remained was an area of allotments. Building over this was resisted until the early C20th when, following efforts by John Burns, MP for Battersea, an Act of Parliament was passed that allowed housing only on condition that part was laid out as a recreation ground. The estate, an early municipal housing project, was built on Garden City principles. The recreation ground became the focal point and opened in 1906. A north-south footpath divides the recreation ground, with a landscaped area with trees, shrubs and flower beds to the east, a central playground and a hard-surfaced area to the west with two fine mature willows. The perimeter has fine trees.
Previous / Other name: Latchmere Common
Site location: Burns Road/Reform Street
Postcode: SW11 > Google Map
Type of site: Public Gardens
Date(s): 1906
Designer(s): J T Pilditch, Battersea Borough Surveyor
Listed structures:
Borough: Wandsworth
Site ownership: LB Wandsworth
Site management: Parks Service
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: 8am - dusk
Special conditions: no dogs (west side)
Facilities: playground
Events:
Public transport: Rail: Battersea Park. Rail/London Overground: Clapham Junction. Bus: 44, 49, 319, 344, 345
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/05/2009
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.wandsworth.gov.uk

Fuller information:

The Latchmere Estate was built on an area once part of Latchmere Common, which was gradually encroached over the years by housing until all that remained of open space was an area of allotments. Building over this was resisted until the early C20th when, following efforts by John Burns, a member of the LCC and MP for Battersea, an Act of Parliament was passed that allowed housing only on condition that part was laid out as a recreation ground. Burns opened the first area of the Latchmere Estate in 1903 and one of the key roads of the estate is named after him; it was the first municipal housing project in the country built using a council's workforce and consisted of two-storey yellow and red brick maisonettes and houses with slate roofs, laid out in a grid. The recreation ground was the estate's focal point and opened to the public in 1906, having been laid out for £4,475, the responsibility of Battersea Borough Council. It was not enclosed to the north until c.1918 when 26 more dwellings were added to the estate extending Reform Street.

Latchmere Estate's design was influenced by Garden City principles of town planning and remains a small scale oasis in the centre of the surrounding high-rise developments. The earlier houses had moulded window heads and projecting canopies over the entrances, with railings in front of narrow forecourts, but these railings were removed during WWII.

Latchmere Recreation Ground has a central playground with an area to the west that is largely tarmaced with two fine mature willows. A north-south path divides the recreation ground, with to the east a landscaped area with trees, shrubs and flower beds, including a pergola shelter of more recent date than the original layout. The perimeter has fine trees. Other planting in the estate included street trees, predominantly pollarded London plane trees.

The recreation ground was for a short time the location of a controversial drinking fountain with a statue of a Brown Dog donated by the Anti-vivisection Council. It commemorated a brown dog that had died in animal experimentation at University College London. The decision to erect it by Battersea Borough Council indicated the council's radical stance at that time. It was installed in a central position on the path through the gardens and was unveiled on 15 September 1906. It was removed in March 1910, having attracted a huge furore, and despite protests it never returned.

Sources consulted:

'The London County Council and what it does for London: London Parks and Open Spaces' (Hodder & Stoughton, 1924); Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999; LB Wandsworth, Latchmere Estate Conservation Area Character Statement; Verena McCaig, '"Exit the Brown Dog! - Latchmere Recreation Ground and its passing notoriety', The London Gardener, vol. 15, 2009-10; Latchmere Recreation Ground Management Plan 2008 - 2013
Grid ref: TQ277763
Size in hectares: 0.8
   
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: Latchmere Estate
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: No
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation: Incidental Public Open Space/Landscaped Open Space
   

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