Seaside in the Park

I found this picture in the 1902 classic Greenwich Park, it’s History and Associations, by A. D. ¬†Webster and looking at it for more than a second (which is what I’ve done in the past), it suddenly clicked where and what this is.

It’s the prototype for the children’s playground, down in the north-east corner.

Seasides were all the rage in Victorian/ Edwardian times, of course, but most of Greenwich’s poorer inhabitants didn’t get to Broadstairs or Margate on a regular basis. There was Greenwich Beach, of course:

which was a lot more popular at pretty much any time in the last 150 years than it is now – odd, given the river’s much cleaner now than it has been at any point in that time and access is easy. My personal explanation for this is that people tend to think it must be out of bounds or, probably more likely, don’t think about it at all.

I can understand why Edwardian parents didn’t really want their kiddies playing on Greenwich Beach itself in their starched collars and white petticoats, so it must have been a bit of a godsend when ‘a dirty and untidy corner’ of the park was turned into ‘a valuable and much appreciated play-place’, ‘where children may play on the clean sand without fear of molestation.’

Funny how a random picture makes things you never thought about  before fall into place.

For my money though, the beach is still a funner place to play.

the attachments to this post:

Greenwich beach in the 1930s
Greenwich beach in the 1930s

Seaside in the Park
Seaside in the Park

2 Comments to “Seaside in the Park”

  1. Bugs says:

    Regarding Greenwich beach – your comment struck a chord. I had a completely unfounded instinct that it was “out of bounds”.

    Then one day when the rowing club gate was open we guiltily wandered down to take a look. We fell into conversation with a gentleman who turned out to be Peter Kent the artist & illustrator of the book “Greenwich & the London Rover” & nearby resident. Needless to say it was a lovely way to find out more about the river & the beach in particular.

    Now, we often walk from the pier to the Cutty Sark pub, along the beach picking up old clay pipe stems and other bits and pieces. History in the hand!

  2. Nick says:

    There’s another reason (apart from typhoid) that parents didn’t want their kids playing on Greenwich beach……. tar ! As a kid in the 1960′s, I used to play on the beaches in Greenwich, and I used to come back with at least one item of clothing (and some skin) coated in sticky tar. I think it came from ships flushing out their fuel tanks.