Six amazing pictures of Talacre Gardens then and now


It’s gone quite posh recently with its manicured lawns and flower beds. But take a look at how it was – and don’t miss Prince Charles on a skateboard. Yikes



Springtime for Talacre. Photo: SE
How the park looks these days from its rebooted western side. Photo: SE
Kentish Town’s biggest park is looking pretty smart these days, isn’t it? Especially since the western perimeter was expanded onto previously unused ground on Talacre Road. The result is that more trees and paths are included in the gardens, its effect surprisingly bucolic.

But what of its history? Originally known as Claremount Cricket Ground, by the 1860s it was covered with tight streets of working class housing. There was bomb damage in WWII to the area now known as the Quiet Garden, however, historian Gillian Tindall has repeatedly pointed out that the whole area was never actually a “bomb site”.

Instead, the “slum” housing was slowly, methodically cleared in the 1960s. We can but speculate how much these condemned properties would be on the market for today, but the spirit of post-war progress saw them all off, leaving the dusty wasteland that became the focus of Ed Berman’s pioneering youth project work in the 70s.

The battle to keep the space from redevelopment has raged ever since, defeating a 1973 plan to build a 195 ft tower block where the playground currently lies, and culminating in the successful campaign to protect Talacre for future generations by its 2006 award of status as London’s very first Town Green.

1972: Abandoned

The derelict bomb site in 1972, developed by Ed Berman and Inter-Action Trust, now Talacre Gardens
The derelict site was later developed by Ed Berman and Inter-Action Trust

1974: Before the western side is demolished

1974: "Young kids being made homeless by Camden gestapo". The buildings were soon knocked down to create the park. Photo: Jeremy Ross
“Young kids being made homeless by Camden gestapo”. The buildings were soon knocked down to create the park. Photo: Jeremy Ross

1979: Prince Charles on a skateboard

Prince Charles showed off two skateboard runs in a 1979 video you can see here (“I haven’t done it for such a long time”, he says) surrounded by a cheering mob. Don’t miss the speedy wobble downhill, before he jumps off as the board flies through the fence into Talacre Road. “I hope I haven’t ruined it,” grins the Prince sheepishly.
Prince Charles showed off two skateboard runs in a 1979 video you can see here shot on Talacre. “I haven’t done it for such a long time”, he says, surrounded by a cheering mob.

1980s: Skate and BMX park

In the 1980s. Photo: Robbie Hadju
“Denise you wrestler.” What? Photo: Luke Miller Artwork

2000s: Wintry

Snowy: in the 2000s. Photo: Stephen Emms
Bleak in the mid-noughties. Photo: Stephen Emms

Present Day: Semi-rural

The extension looking very leafy indeed. Photo: SE
Oh I say. The new extension looking very green indeed. Photo: SE

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