Ridgeway Park (Waltham Forest)
Ridgeway Park is an irregularly shaped site between residential streets, the northern section having tennis courts and park keeper's hut of c.1930s, and open grassland beyond. In the southern section is a very fine miniature railway with an enclosed, landscaped stretch of track erected in the late 1940s by the Chingford Model Engineering Club. Walt Disney, a keen miniature railway enthusiast, visited the railway in c.1954. From 1946 to 1970 the park was the venue for the annual Chingford Day, first held at the instigation of the Chingford Horticultural Society.
- Site location:
- Endlebury Road, The Ridgeway/Peel Close/ Old Church Road
- Type of site:
- Public Park
- Waltham Forest
- Open to public?
- Opening times:
- 9am - half hour before sunset. Miniature railway: Sunday afternoons in summer
- Special conditions:
- Miniature railway, playing fields, children's play areas, tennis courts, outdoor table tennis, putting green, toilets
- Train operates (Chingford and District Model Engineering Club) Sundays 2.30-6pm 1st Sun in April - end Sept
- Public transport:
- Rail: Chingford then bus. Bus: 97, 215, 397
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2020
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.walthamforest.gov.uk
Full Site Description
The Ridgeway was an ancient road running along the spine of high ground overlooking the Lea Valley. Ridgeway Park opened in 1935 and was the venue for a popular annual event, Chingford Day, which was first held in 1946 at the instigation of the Chingford Horticultural Society. The first event was reputedly 'the biggest fete Chingford had ever seen' with proceeds going to the Welcome Home Fund for returning local servicemen. Featuring flower displays and shows, Chingford Day was a successful and popular annual event in Ridgeway Park until 1970 when it moved to Chingford Junior High School. Although it continued until 1987, it became a 'pale shadow of itself' once it left Ridgeway Park.
The park's miniature railway was started during World War II when a group of enthusiasts demonstrated model engines here and founded the Chingford Model Engineering Club, one of whose Club rules was that the Mayor of Chingford should be invited to be President. The miniature railway was originally adjacent to two serpentine boating lakes, now drained. In c.1954 Walt Disney, himself a model railway enthusiast with his own 7 1/4 inch miniature railway at his home, made a special visit to the park to see the new railway when on a business visit to London. He reputedly asked his chauffeur if he knew of any miniature railways in London, as a result of which he was taken to Ridgeway Park in Chingford where the park was holding the Chingford Day celebration. Walt Disney drove trains around the track and allowed the press to take photographs, leaving the Mayor to open the Chingford Day celebration practically on his own. The railway continues to be a summer attraction run by the Chingford and District Model Engineering Club.
Entry to the park off Endlebury Road is through green and gold painted iron gates, from where a path lined with trees and shrubs leads to a small area of formal planting, with rose beds and seating, beyond which the park opens out with grass and playing fields. Although there are some formal rose beds and remains of shrubbery, children's play areas have since been erected. A bandstand was constructed in 2019, near which an orchard of fruit trees has been planted..
Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
- Grid ref:
- Size in hectares:
- Site ownership:
- LB Waltham Forest
- Site management:
- Green Space Service, Environment and Regeneration
- Listed structures:
- On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:
- Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:
- 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:
- Premier Park
Model Railway,, Ridgeway Park, March 2020. Photograph Sally Williams
Click a photo to enlarge.