DAVID WHITE on one of Croydon’s greatest, greenest assets
For all its faults and challenges, Croydon is a great place to live. One feature which makes it great in my eyes is its parks and green spaces. All 127 of them.
They range from small neighbourhood parks and recreation grounds, to really large areas of open space which act as lungs for our increasingly urbanised environment.
One of the best is Lloyd Park. It’s close to the town centre and accessible by tram, yet if you wander, especially in the eastern part, you have the feeling of being out in the countryside miles from London.
Croydon came to own this marvellous open space through the generosity of Frank Lloyd.
Lloyd was a newspaper magnate and paper manufacturer at the turn of the 20th century. He lived in Coombe House (now the Cedars School) and owned large areas of surrounding land. In his will, Lloyd left what is now the western part of the park to Croydon Corporation. His daughter perfected the gift and later, in the 1950s, his granddaughters added even more land, giving the park the boundaries it has today.
Frank Lloyd’s philanthropy wasn’t confined to Croydon. He also left a house and land in Walthamstow to the local authority there. That land is now Lloyd Park, Walthamstow.
Before Lloyd’s time the house had been lived in for a period by William Morris, the Victorian textile designer. That house is now the William Morris Gallery. It’s well worth a visit, being 10 minutes walk from the end of the Victoria Line at Walthamstow.
Returning to Lloyd Park, Croydon, I think part of its attraction is the fact that it has something for everyone. The western side, next to Lloyd Park tram stop, hosts sports events, funfairs and music concerts. It also has newly laid cycle tracks, tennis courts and a very good café.
If you wander further to the east, past the children’s play area and the outdoor gym, you come to the other side of Lloyd Park.
This is unspoilt grassland, trees and vegetation, including some ancient woodland. There are great walks through here to Addington Hills and beyond, and the relatively new Friends of Lloyd Park group organised some guided walks here during the summer.
Croydon Council maintains the park fairly well, though in recent years Government cuts have had their effect, as staffing levels of parks staff are much lower than they used to be. A large number of voluntary groups organise activities in the park, including the Friends of Lloyd Park who also organise litter picks, conservation works and more.
The council and the Friends group are united in wanting to preserve and enhance the park and make it accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds.
I think it’s important that this beautiful park remains sustainable and attractive, so that we can enjoy it and so can future generations.
- David White lives in Park Hill, Croydon. He is the joint secretary of Friends of Lloyd Park
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