Nestled in the armpit between Junction Road and Dartmouth Park Hill is one of London’s lesser known and refreshingly unconventional parks.
Most Londoners – if they’ve even heard of the area itself (named after the Earl of Dartmouth who bought the land in the 18th Century) – might imagine handsome if somewhat sleepy tree-lined streets, home to the leader of the opposition and his inner circle. A place happy to go relatively unnoticed, comfortable in its own skin.
But what of the actual park? Well, it certainly isn’t one in the traditional London sense. This is not grandly royal like Regent’s, or landscaped for the people, like Victoria. Dartmouth Park itself is actually dominated by the Victorian reservoir tank slapbang in its middle: with a high, sharp looking metal fence, at first glance it might look like a prison exercise yard, however, persevere and you’ll be rewarded.
So continue along the main path off Dartmouth Park Hill, through an anonymous looking stretch, sweeping past a small green space, with a few benches and a popular children’s play park. So far, so ‘meh’?
Continue on round the corner and try not to look left just yet (trust me on this one): once at the summit of the grassy bank, you’re rewarded with a stunning, yet surprising, view of the capital (see main pic).
Yes, there are the glass towers of Canary Wharf in the east, twinkling at you; The Cheese Grater at Liverpool Street; St Paul’s and Barbican’s Seven Sisters, the London Eye. Yet it’s the estates immediately in the foreground that provide a thoughtful juxtaposition – and, if you’ve never been, this non-Primrose/Parliament Hill perspective really is a unique take on a classic North London panorama. There’s nothing cutsey or cliched about the view; and this is why Dartmouth Park matters.
On my recent visit there, I noticed that local residents have clubbed together to form a ‘Friends of Dartmouth Park’, who meet to discuss potential improvements to the park. By the looks of the noticeboard, efforts seem to have stalled.
Whilst the view is very much the jewel in the crown here, there are areas in the park that would benefit from some TLC. Any locals reading this will probably be well aware of the space, but what about lending a hand? I for one’ll be first in line.
Why It Matters now comes in association with the Kentishtowner lovin’ Discount Insurance. They’re really nice, honest. And their boss bloke lives in NW5.