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Friends of South Park

The Friends of South Park was established in January 2009 to become the primary support and lobbying group for the park. The Friends is a single interest group and therefore separate from PRARA and you are welcome and encouraged to join the Friends. Full details can be found at www.friendsofsouthpark.co.uk Any queries please contact the Friends secretary, Alex Schiewind on 7751 9975 or email fulham.southpark@gmail.com

South Park News

The Inspector's decision on the proposed boundary change in the Council's proposed Core [planning] Strategy was that the boundary should not be changed. The enlarged childrens' play area is now almost all open and is proving extremely popular. As long as the café cart near the tennis courts is trading the key to the toilet in the changing room block can be obtained from the cart staff.

More information can be found on the Friends web site www.friendsofsouthpark.co.uk


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The improvement of South Park was a key objective for PRARA from the day the Association was formed, and much was achieved. Following the establishment of the Friends of South Park in 2009, in which PRARA was instrumental, we have handed over most of our lobbying and other activities in relation to the park to the Friends. The following is a record of our activities prior to the formation of the Friends

In recent years the park has steadily deteriorated due to vandalism and inadequate maintenance, partly because latterly the Council has not had a Parks Department as such. Responsibility has been spread across several departments with the result that there has been no overall control or vision for the park.

South Park has become the Borough’s ‘Cinderella’ park. The photographs on this page forcefully illustrate this.

PRARA has been lobbying strongly on behalf of all local residents and the various park user groups both for adequate maintenance budgets and a comprehensive upgrade and improvement programme. Some of our efforts have been reported in local newspapers. Follow the link on the left to see a list of some of the maintenance issues we have highlighted.

As a gesture of our good intentions, and thanks to the generosity of PRARA’s founding Co-ordinator, Patricia Hicks, in December 2003 we donated a whitebeam tree to replace one that has been lost. It is located in the north west corner.

We achieved some success in late 2004/2005 when some remedial work was undertaken and much of the graffiti was removed. We also succeeded in ensuring that as much of the damaged terracotta railing as possible was removed for safekeeping and future use. The rest of the damaged terracotta was removed in the Autumn of 2006 and the area around the terrace has been temporarily earth banked and grassed over pending installation of new railings as part of master plan improvements.

We have also succeeded in having further more immediate maintenance work being arranged which has included the removal of neglected and disintegrating raised beds at the main Clancarty Road entrance and the entire entrance area resurfaced in York Stone.

We are pressing the Council to apply for a major grant under the Lottery “Parks for People” programme and are working with the Council Project Team with the aim of producing a comprehensive strategy for the future of South Park. The Leader of the Council has advised PRARA that the Council is now committed to making such a bid. See below for PRARA's Vision for the Park.

PRARA organised a User Group consultation during August and September 2006 and 71 responses were received. Details of the consultation and a summary of the findings were sent to the Council to inform the preparation of the master plan for the park  

Click here to see the report.

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PRARA's Vision for the Park

To renovate and improve the park infrastructure using the original Victorian design as a guide and inspiration, so that the park is fully restored with all areas brought back into full use in a way that can be appreciated and enjoyed by the full range of users

Additional Objectives

Introduce an educational element into the park involving the four schools which surround the park, the primary school near it and the nursery school in it.  None of the pupils currently have any real relationship with the park although it is used by children from a French school located to the east of the Wandsworth Bridge Road.

Specific elements that need to be or could be included in the park master plan

  • Complete renovation and restoration of the perimeter wall, iron gates and railings.
  • A re-think of both the use and position of the “cricket pavilion”, “tea pavilion” and changing room / toilet blocks - all of which are now deteriorating and unsightly buildings and not in keeping.  They should be improved or replaced.
  • Introduction of a new professionally run quality café in a suitable position with ‘up-market’ environment and facilities internally and externally (Café Nero, for example?)
  • Creation of a history zone (possibly associated with the café) which tells the story of the park - the original use of the land / how and when it became a park / its use in the First and Second World Wars / changes since then.
  • Creation of an educational horticultural area in conjunction with the schools, which contrasts Fulham’s original role as London’s market garden with contemporary urban gardens and also features ecological and natural spaces - suggested locations are in the south end of the park.
  • Better facilities in the childrens’ play area including seats and tables for adults
  • Improvement of the area between the tennis courts which contains the aviary.
  • Re-think of the fenced sports areas at the south so that they are returned to proper and full use.
  • Development of all the sports facilities so that they can also be used by Hurlingham and Chelsea School as a school facility.
  • Complete replacement of the damaged terracotta balustrading in the north west corner with a contemporary equivalent of a high design standard which will be vandal resistant
  • Bringing the adjacent lodge back into park use.
  • Resurfacing of all the hard standing of the paths in a more exciting and visually appealing way, perhaps using tiling of some sort rather than tarmac.
  • Complete re-think of the south-east corner (former youth play area and paddling pool).
  • Professional parks designer to be employed 
  • Planting of Whitebeam tree in December 2003


  • Six white cherry trees are planted by Hurlingham and Chelsea pupils in November 2006 (left and below)

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South Park History

South Park opened in March 1904 on land that had previously been known first as Broom Farm and then Southfields Farm. The site was acquired by the Borough Council in the previous year for £35,000, a price of £1,500 per acre, from Miss Charlotte Sulivan, a Fulham resident and major benefactor to the area. She was a niece of Lord Palmerston who lived in Fulham’s most important 'manor' house, Broom House.

Prior to its sale, the land (then known as "Southfields, Fulham") had been leased to James Veitch & Sons, Limited for 33 years, for use a nursery. The Borough Archive contains the original correspondence between Charlotte Sulivan herself and the Council, concerning the acquisition of this land. She refused to surrender it until the James Veitch lease expired and pointed out that the Council had ignored her earlier offer of alternative land with more prominent access from the Wandsworth Bridge Road! In order to sell the land for a park she rejected an approach from a builder. She imposed various conditions on the sale, one of which is that the Council should erect no dwelling houses or buildings except as necessary or appropriate for use as a Recreation Ground or Park.

On its opening the park was described in the local newspaper as "Possessing over 20 acres, cricket, tennis, plus other open air games were offered and there was a bandstand, refreshment pavilion, ladies and gentleman's lavatories and a shelter." A gymnasium ( ¾ acre in extent) fitted with complete apparatus was at the Hugon Road corner.

South Park's first park-keeper was John Eckett who lived in the gardener's lodge whilst Miss Gertrude Eckett is noted as being at the refreshment room. During the First World War land in the park was given over to allotments and in the summer of 1915 it was one of the local training grounds for the three Fulham Brigades of the Royal Field Artillery raised by the Mayor of Fulham.

For the Second World War the council's own labour force initially dug trenches in the park; subsequently full air-raid shelters were built - the entrance was located where the present cricket pavilion is situated - and some of the park was again converted to allotments.

South Park is the only farming land in Fulham that still remains as an open space.

Anthony Williams, February 2005

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