The Friends of Island Gardens have organised an afternoon of summer fun celebrating the 120 years since Island Gardens were opened to the public by Will Crooks in 1895.
The event takes place between 1pm–5pm, in Island Gardens and will feature a Magic show, Face painting, Children’s games, Balloons, Live music,Cake stall, Penny farthing and Plant stall. There will also be a plaque unveiling ceremony at 2pm.
The story of Island Gardens is quite an intriguing one, up to the 19th Century most of the Isle of Dogs was farmland, however when shipbuilding and other industries began to spring up along the riverfront, the land that became Island Gardens was leased to the Admiralty who wished to preserve the site to maintain the famous views to Greenwich. However, the Admiralty did little with the site and it became a derelict plantation, in the 1880s the idea was raised to turn this area into a municipal park.
In 1889, the newly formed LCC began the negotiations for its purchase, in 1892, A deputation from the LCC, led by Will Crooks and the chairman of the Parks Committee, J. S. Fletcher, met the First Lord of the Admiralty to get permission for a park. Crooks argued that the park would be a ‘little paradise’ for local people.
The purchase was eventually made in 1895 for £6,500, the state of the ground was very poor but Lieutenant-Colonel John J. Sexby who designed the new park, laid out plants on the north, west and east sides with paths, a riverside walk and a wooden bandstand.
The Island Gardens were formally opened by Will Crooks on 3 August 1895 who had worked tirelessly to find open spaces and turn them into children’s play-places, Crooks argued that the Council should rescue every vacant plot of land that remained in the heavily built up area and convert it into a recreation ground, no matter how small.
His campaign had a number of successes other than the Island Gardens, he helped to create the Bromley Recreation Ground and the Tunnel Gardens at Poplar.
The Friends of Island Gardens plaque will pay its respect to this remarkable politician.
The celebrations will be open between 1pm–5pm and everyone is invited.