London Fields (Hackney)
London Fields is former Lammas land once owned by Hackney Manor, reputedly a burial place of plague victims in 1665. Along with other open spaces in the area it was under threat from development in the 1860s but Hackney District Board was able to use the Metropolitan Commons Act of 1866 to preserve 180 acres of common land as open space. London Fields was acquired under the Metropolitan Commons Supplemental Act 1872, the land transferred to the Metropolitan Board of Works and made into a public park. By 1925 the park had a bandstand, paddling pool, netball and tennis courts, and by 1939 a refreshments hut, toilets, drinking fountain, outdoor swimming pool, and a children's gymnasium. The Lido had closed by 2000 but following a campaign to restore it, has since re-opened, London's only outdoor Olympic-sized heated pool. The park retains its original system of paths, and numerous notable C18th and C19th plane trees.
- Site location:
- Richmond Road/Broadway Market
- E8 3EU
- What 3 Words:
- Type of site:
- Public Park
- Open to public?
- Opening times:
- Special conditions:
- Lido, park café, toilets, 2 play areas, 2 tennis courts, cricket pitch, ping pong table, paddling pool (summer)
- Numerous events
- Public transport:
- Rail: London Fields. Bus: 26, 48, 55, 106, 253, D6, 236, 277.
- Research updated:
- Last minor changes:
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.hackney.gov.uk/cp-londonfields.htm; www.londonfieldsusergroup.org.uk
Full Site Description
London Fields is former Lammas land once owned by Hackney Manor, which was still in strip divisions at the end of the C18th. It was reputedly a burial place of plague victims in 1665. Cricket was played here as early as c.1820 by, among others, 'Clapton Gentlemen' (VCH), and it was used for drill by the Tower Hamlets militia in the 1750s. Along with other open spaces in Hackney it became under threat from development when there was urgent need for land for building in the 1860s but the Hackney District Board was able to use the Metropolitan Commons Act of 1866 to raise a petition, which led to the enclosure of 180 acres of common land in the area. Described in 1866 as 'in dry weather a hard, unsightly, dusty plain with a few isolated tufts of turf and in wet weather a dismal impassable swamp', London Fields was acquired under the Metropolitan Commons Supplemental Act 1872. The land was transferred to the Metropolitan Board of Works and made into a public park, later maintained by the LCC. Common rights were extinguished by an Act of Parliament 1884.
By 1925 the park was laid out with a bandstand, paddling pool in the south and netball and tennis courts, and by 1939 there was a refreshments hut, toilets, drinking fountain and additional recreational facilities including an outdoor swimming pool in the north-west corner, and a children's gymnasium. The Lido opened on 30 April 1932, and was a pair to the Lido in Kennington Park (q.v.), which is no longer extant. These two lidos were more elaborate than the LCC's earlier lidos and had continuous filtration and aeration, standardised pool dimensions, substantial buildings with refreshment kiosks and individual and group changing facilities. London Fields Lido cost £10,000 to build and the operating costs were split between Hackney Council and the LCC, the costs partly provided as government compensation for its use of Hackney Marshes (q.v.) during WWI. The lido was badly damaged in WWII, during which period the park was used for allotments and underground shelters, and re-opened in 1951. It was later closed in 1988 and for many years remained behind a corrugated fence until London Fields User Group successfully campaigned for its re-opening. Now completed, London Fields Lido is London's only outdoor Olympic-sized heated pool and is run by Greenwich Leisure Ltd.
A site for public meetings was located in the south of the park on Westgate Street. In 1959 the staff lodge was built; the park retains its regular C19th system of paths, numerous notable C18th and C19th planes, and is bounded on several sides by fragmentary ranges of C18th and C19th dwellings. The play area in the south-east corner has a sculptural seating area with raised beds in mosaic and pebbles depicting flower sellers and sheep, which was created by community arts group Freeform in 1988 with local schools, and refers back to the earlier use of London Fields by drovers en route to Smithfield Market, described by Pevsner as 'an endearing pebbly sculpture of flower sellers and sheep'. Improvements to the northern play area are taking place in 2011.
Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Parks and Open Spaces in Hackney, A Report by the Hackney Society, London 1980; Victoria County History; David Mander, Strength in the Tower, an Illustrated History of Hackney (Sutton) 1998; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998); Website 'Lidos in London still open' compiled by Oliver Merrington, www.lidos.org.uk
Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
- Grid ref:
- TQ346843 (534601,184194)
- Size in hectares:
- Site ownership:
- LB Hackney (part registered under the Land Registration Acts)
- Site management:
- Hackney Parks Service; London Fields User Group
- Listed structures:
- On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:
- Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:
Yes: Common (CL20)
- Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:
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:
- In Conservation Area:
- Tree Preservation Order:
- Nature Conservation Area:
- Green Belt:
- Metropolitan Open Land:
- Special Policy Area:
- Other LA designation:
- Open Space; Green Link
Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.