Culture, Leisure

Paul O’Grady to help local community and council celebrate beginning of a new chapter for one of London’s most historic public spaces

Vauxhall Spring Gardens to be renamed ‘Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens’ after renovation, reflecting the area’s lavish and glittering history.

Paul O’Grady – aka Lily Savage – will join local residents, businesses and VIPs to celebrate the completion of a project to renovate one of London’s most historic public spaces on February 16th.

Spring Gardens – formerly the site of the famous Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens – has a lavish history dating back to 1661 and reached the height of its popularity and fashion in the 1800s when it became one of London’s most popular sites of mass public entertainment. Visited by Royalty, Jaquamo Casanova and the poet Shelley, the gardens hosted the premiere of works by Handel and Canaletto painted a famous view of the Grand Walk in 1751.

Levelled to make way for housing in 19th century and restored to a public space in the 1970s, the latest chapter in its history has seen the park undergo a major £200,000 renovation that has been led by local residents through the Friends of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, working with Lambeth Council and architects DSDHA, in association with the artist Martin Richman.

In recognition of its historic past, the park is to be renamed Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens

The project has seen a new entrance introduced on Kennington Lane, framed by two monumental columns, which light up in various colours at night to welcome visitors to the park. The new entrance is complemented by high quality paving and new planting.

Safety has been improved by the introduction of better lighting and new sight lines, and the appearance of the park has been improved by the planting of more trees, creating a welcoming and environment for local people to enjoy. New all-weather sports pitches have been introduced, which are already proving popular with local young people.

In the coming months, the Friends will launch a competition to determine what should be placed on the tops of the columns. 

The improvements have been paid for by the council using contributions from private developers from planning agreements, known as S106 agreements.

Paul O’Grady, whose association with the area began in the 1980s when he started his career performing at the nearby Royal Vauxhall Tavern pub, will join Cllr Steve Reed, Leader of Lambeth Council, local MP Kate Hoey, and members of Friends of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens at 5pm on February 16th, for a special ceremony when the park’s new name will be officially celebrated.

Eamonn McMahon, Chair of Friends of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens:

“Paul O’Grady’s opening of the new park entrance, and the park’s renaming will mark a new beginning for the entire local community who have all worked so hard to see the park revived and reinvigorated.

“Our future will encompass ideas about Art and Music, cultural events and active involvement with the gardens, all aspiring to reflect the magnificent history of the gardens and ensure that its long term future is protected for future generations…viva Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.”

Cllr Florence Nosegbe, Lambeth Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, said: “The site of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is steeped in history and I’m delighted that the we have been able to work hand in hand with local people in creating a new chapter for the area that captures some of the spirit of its past.

“Good quality public spaces are vital as places of leisure and relaxation. These improvements are fantastic and have made the whole area more welcoming and attractive, turning what used to be quite a run down and threatening area into somewhere that people will want to visit and enjoy.

“I want to thank the commitment of the Friends of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, who have worked tirelessly hand in hand with the council and architects to make this happen.”

The name Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens recalls the area’s glittering history as a place of entertainment and wonder. To learn more visit www.friendsofvauxhallpleasuregardens.org.uk

Editors’ notes:

Lambeth Council commissioned architects DSDHA in 2005 Following a design competition, to complete an Urban Framework Plan for the future development of Vauxhall Spring Gardens.

Located just one mile from the Houses of Parliament, Vauxhall Spring Gardens is an increasingly crucial green space in the heart of London. From royal pleasure garden, to slum housing, to urban park, the site has reflected society’s changing attitude towards urban life. 

The development of the Framework Plan involved extensive consultation and, since its completion in 2006, has obtained widespread support from local stakeholders, residents, Lambeth Council and the local MP, Kate Hoey. The Framework has been informally adopted by the council and is now a key reference document considered in the negotiation and allocation of Section 106 documents associated with the many developments that are currently being proposed for the area. The park’s location within the Vauxhall – Nine Elms – Battersea (VNEB) development area also places it at a strategic position within the network of green spaces that are intended to stretch from Lambeth Palace to Battersea Park.

The new entrance aims to celebrate the spirit of the Pleasure Gardens through the introduction of two monumental columns, framing views into and out of the park. At the same time, the proposals create a new entrance on the street, enhanced tree planting provision and improved safety through clear sight lines and lighting.

Ornate columns and innovative lighting were amongst the features of the former Pleasure Gardens, both as part of the gateway building, the music room, and also as a visual device to distort perspective in the landscape.

 Consultant Team Details:


Client:                           London Borough of Lambeth

Architect:                      DSDHA

Structure Engineer:        Structure Workshop

Artist:                           Martin Richman

Lighting Designer:          Enigma Systems


Concrete Contractor:      White Rock Engineering

Landscape Contractor:   Blakedown Landscapes

Lighting Contractor:        Enigma Systems





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