Nearly 100 people attended this seminar in the Small Mansion, on 26th February 2009. It was organised by the London Parks and Green Spaces Forum and English Heritage, and supported by Ealing and Hounslow. People came from many London Boroughs (either Park managers or Friends groups), and from organisations such as the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Royal Parks, Capel Manor and the Corporation of London.
There were gloomy moments, and optimistic moments. We heard about the importance of Parks in the lives of Londoners, the way legislation might change to manage the protection of the heritage, and an outline of the difficulties of preserving garden buildings which have survived but may have lost their purpose (and their financial support) now they are within public parks not private estates.
The visitors were then offered tours of Gunnersbury Park or the Museum stores. One party took the opportunity to cross the Park and climb inside the Potomac Tower. Even though many of the visitors were seasoned professionals, it was clear over lunch that some had been taken aback by the state of buildings like the Stables.
In the afternoon we heard of how the London Parks and Gardens Trust is compiling an inventory of London’s Historic Green Spaces (2000 entries so far), and of the importance of the “Conservation Plan” (which now Gunnersbury has got). We ended with two very upbeat accounts of a park which is preparing a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (Barking Park) and of one (Valentine’s Park) which is just completing its whole project.
(11th March 2009, James Wisdom)