New look for historic Camden park

A historic Camden park is to get a £140,000 makeover, with a design that retains many original features but improves its layout and landscaping. 

Work started last week (19 September) at Cumberland Market (NW1) on the refurbishment project, which will make the park more attractive and easier for residents to use. Camden Council is carrying out the work in response to feedback from residents and has secured funding for the project from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund and 'Doorstep Greens'. 

This is one of 200 projects across the country funded by the Countryside Agency's 'Doorstep Greens' initiative, using national Lottery money from the Big Lottery Fund.

Around 10 local young people aged 11-19 years are playing a key role in improving Cumberland Market by helping design a new main gate to welcome people into the park via Osnaburgh Street. They are working on designs for the gate as well as decorative 'finials' which sit on top of the park's fencing, and their ideas will be presented to other young people in the area to get their views at a workshop in October organised by the West Euston Partnership (WEP). 

Cumberland Market features lots of nineteenth-century cobblestones, many of which have become uneven, so these will be lifted and replaced with grass. Consultation with residents showed that they found this cobbled surface hazardous especially for older people, parents with buggies and children, so the new surface will make it easier for people to access and use the west area of the park. Although the cobblestones are not listed they are still of historic interest, so to highlight this some of them are being re-laid as features of an attractive walk way in the west side of the park.

The grass on the east side of the park will be designated 'dog free' to encourage young people to play safely in this area.  People wishing to walk their dogs will be able to use the western half of the park, with dog bins provided so owners can 'poop-a-scoop' and keep the space clean.

Local residents also asked for the park to be brightened up with plants to encourage wildlife, so new colourful plants will be placed in the large shrub beds, edged with more of the historic cobblestones.  People will also be able to relax in Cumberland Market with seating added under two new trees in the west side of the park.  New silver birch trees are also being planted to create a central avenue through the park, with further seating and new bins to help keep the area tidy.  The new planting and fresh layout of the paths will improve visibility into the park, which helps ensure safety. 

Cllr Phil Turner, Executive Member Leisure & Community Services, Camden Council, says:

"The improvements to Cumberland Market will help make this valued local park safer and more attractive for residents of all ages to use. Camden Council is improving parks and open spaces for residents all over the borough, having completed the £2m refurbishment of Waterlow Park earlier this year and with redevelopment work also underway at Cantelowes Gardens and Swiss Cottage."

Saleh Ahmed, Integrated Youth Project Co-ordinator, WEP, says:

"The young people are working together well on this project and have come up with some fantastic designs inspired by photographs that they have taken in the Cumberland Market area.  We hope that this will give teenagers a sense of ownership of the park and encourage them to take pride in what they have created for themselves and other people in their neighbourhood.  They are also keeping portfolios of their work, which will be valuable if they go on to develop careers in design. Any more young people who would like to get involved in the design project can contact me at WEP on 020 7974 4396."

Bob Austin, Chair of West Euston Community Association, says:

"I hope that the work on Cumberland Market's park will bring benefits for the local teenagers and young people.  It will generate fresh interest in the area and help improve it."

The redevelopment work at Cumberland Market is due to be completed in December 2005. 

Notes to editors

Cumberland Market is situated on the Regent's Park Estate, NW1. For more information on Camden Council's parks and open spaces see: www.camden.gov.uk/parks

Funding from the Countryside Agency's 'Doorstep Green' initiative is £60,000; Neighbourhood Renewal Fund contribution is £80,000.  Camden Council's Parks Department is managing the project and carrying out planting under its winter works programme. '

The Countryside Agency is currently in the process of change as it helps translate the Government's new rural strategy, announced by the Secretary of State in July 2004, into action. Its landscape, access and recreation teams (including Doorstep Greens) are working with its partners, English Nature and the Rural Development Service, bringing together its activities to improve services for customers and contribute to sustainable development as we move towards a new integrated agency. In September 2000 the Big Lottery Fund appointed the Countryside Agency as an Award partner to distribute grants through its Doorstep Greens scheme. The Doorstep Greens initiative closed to new applicants in April 2003. More information about Doorstep Greens is on the web at: www.countryside.gov.uk/doorstepgreens

Big Lottery Fund is the joint operating name of the New Opportunities Fund and the National Lottery Charities Board (which made grants under the name of the Community Fund). The Big Lottery Fund, launched on 1st June 2004, is distributing half of all National Lottery good cause funding across the UK. Details of the Big Lottery Fund's programmes and grant awards are available at: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

History of Cumberland Market

Before cars were invented, London was reliant on horses for transport and as the city grew during the eighteenth century markets, four markets were set up to sell food and straw for the animals - including at the site of Cumberland Market.   By the 1820s the Piccadilly hay market also re-located there as the site benefited from its transport link to the nearby Regent's Canal.

Various businesses grew up around the market including hay compressors, chandlers and a vinegar factory, as well as a number of pubs. The Cumberland Market hay market operated for three days a week alongside a general produce market throughout the nineteenth century, and there was a market on the site right up until the 1930s.  During World War II the area was intensively bombed, as it is near to Euston and King's Cross stations and the canal link was closed in 1942.

A number of paintings of the market still exist, most notably by Robert Bevan, and are in the Southampton City Art Gallery.  After the war a park was formally created on the market site and in the 1950s many of the cobblestones were covered up and a children's playground created.  An old St Pancras Borough Council steamroller was left on site and used to play on by children until it was subsequently buried under a mound of earth.  In the 1990s it was dug out, fully restored and is in fully working order in North Wales.  Images of Cumberland Market in the 1920s are available from the London Metropolitan Archive (see: www.cityoflondon.gov.uk)

Contact info

Alison Birtwell

020 7974 6021

alison.birtwell@camden.gov.uk

Reference code: 05/278
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