New Life for Victorian Garden

Work Starts at Red Cross Garden Southwark

0n 17 January 2005 Bankside Open Spaces Trust celebrated the start of work on the restoration-in-spirit of Red Cross Garden, an important historic garden near Borough High Street, Southwark.

Heritage Lottery funding of £514,500 has enabled Bankside Open Spaces Trust to work with local residents, businesses, and historians to restore the original layout of this delightful Victorian garden. Plans include the recreation of the pond with its rustic bridge, new flower beds, lawns and benches, and a small information centre and gardener's office.

A lithograph of Red Cross Hall and Cottages by the architect Elijah Hoole, ca. 1902

A similar view during restoration works in January 2005

Originally laid out in 1888 on the site of a derelict paper factory by Octavia Hill (1838-1912), a founder of The National Trust, the Garden was described as 'an open air sitting-room' for the people of Southwark. It was the scene of the annual Southwark Flower Show and many fêtes and concerts in its heyday.

Bankside Open Spaces Trust marked the occasion with a small celebratory ceremony addressed by Octavia Hill's biographer, Gillian Darley, Vice President of the Octavia Hill Society. 'Octavia Hill' herself was on hand to hand over the ceremonial spade for ground-breaking and guests were able to view a scale model of the original garden kindly lent by the Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum in Wisbech.

Verena Cotton, Project Manager, said, "These works will bring back a wonderful oasis in this part of the city, recreating a historic garden of which local people can be justifiably proud. It is the culmination of many years of hard work by all those involved. Octavia Hill originally laid out the garden to bring fresh air and nature into the lives of the people of Southwark and we are looking forward to a time when the Garden is well loved and well-used once again."

Work will finish in June 2005 when the Garden will re-open to once again fulfil its role as a place for relaxation and pleasure, and for visitors to learn about its unique history.

Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST) is a charity supporting local communities to improve and maintain and enjoy the parks and open spaces in north-west Southwark. BOST supports and services parks and open spaces groups in the area to carry out consultation, fund-raise and oversee improvements to the local parks and open spaces. BOST have leased Red Cross Garden for 25 years from Southwark Council, having been successful in securing Heritage Lottery funding to carry out the capital works required.

The landscape consultants are Chris Blandford Associates and the contractors are Calabasas; both companies have previously carried out such projects locally.

For further information, please refer to the  Bankside Open Spaces Trust web site