Nestled in 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 former leader of the opposition and his inner circle.
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 slap bang in its middle: with a high, sharp looking metal fence, at first glance it might look like a prison exercise yard.
Constructed in 1855 by the New River Company, and connected to the waterworks and pumping station by the Stoke Newington reservoirs, it’s now owned by Thames Water.
But continue. 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.
Yes, there are the glass towers of Canary Wharf in the east, twinkling at you; the Leadenhall building at Liverpool Street; St Paul’s, the London Eye. Yet the estates immediately in the foreground 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 cutesy or cliched about the view; and this is why Dartmouth Park matters.
Local residents have clubbed together to form a Friends of Dartmouth Park, but by the looks of the empty noticeboard, efforts seem to have stalled. And a quick shout on social media the other day revealed…not much. “Possibly they used to post on the board just inside park entrance, but it was bare last time I looked,” said the Twitter account that calls itself @dartmouthpkhill, with perhaps a sigh. Oh well.
But still: that view.