As we Londoners had to self-isolate, keep our social distance, and work or study from home for the past year, we became acutely aware of the value of spending time outdoors. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted just how precious and vital public green spaces are. This is particularly the case in urban areas, where population and development density already limit the availability of nature for residents.
We certainly feel lucky that London is one of the greenest cities in Europe and the world. It might come as a surprise, though, that The City of London Corporation proudly manages almost 11,000 acres of those green spaces in and around the capital,including London's largest - Epping Forest, Hampstead Heath, and more than 200 gardens, churchyards, parks and plazas within the Square Mile.
Perhaps one of the less well known is Queen’s Park, a 30- acre green space located in Brent, one of the most culturally diverse boroughs in the UK and far outside The City of London Corporation’s jurisdiction.
It was created for the International Exhibition of the Royal Agricultural Society, which was opened by Queen Victoria in 1879, and was named to honour her majesty.
The 30-acre open space that remains today was a section of the agricultural showground, but much of the rest was built up by the Artisans, 'Labourers’ and General Dwellings Company as a grid of terraced cottages for the working class. The park belonged to the Church Commissioners, who gave it to its present owners, the City of London Corporation.
In 2020 it won Green Flag status for the 24th year in a row, and an additional Green Heritage Site award for its care and conservation of open space and facilities.
Unfortunately, Queen’s Park Day, a self-funding community event, will not take place again this year, but let’s not forget that if we want our future neighbourhoods to conserve their biodiversity, provide a space where people can have healthy and active lifestyles, we must work to make our city’s parks, green spaces and waterways great places where people and wildlife can thrive, and Queen’s Park is no exception.