Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published March 20th 2016
A Hive of Activity
Formerly private land belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall, Kennington Common was renamed Kennington Park in 1854 when it was opened to the public. Alongside important heritage features and beautiful outdoor spaces, it also contains lots of leisure facilities to suit all ages, making it something the entire family can enjoy.
Kennington Park may not be as grand in scale as the royal parks (it only takes about ten minutes to walk from one end to the other), but there is not an inch of wasted space; it is packed full of fun activities.
There are all sorts of sports facilities available and Kennington Park.
Built in 1978, the Skate Bowl is one of few original 1970s skate bowls left in London. Although it was closed shortly after opening due to being too dangerous, it underwent refurbishment and is as popular as ever.
It is a place teenagers can escape from everyone as it is conveniently parked in a secluded corner and raised several feet from the ground. Once you step inside that deep bowl you are invisible to the rest of the outside world. It is designed for practicing killer moves on a bike or skateboard, but it is also just a cool place to loiter and hangout with your mates.
This easy going obstacle course has ten different challenges, which test strength and balance. Some like the pull up bar are geared more towards adults, but there are also wooden planks to walk across that children will also enjoy playing on.
The ping-pong tables were bought buy the Friends of Kennington Park, using a grant donated by Sports England. They are free to use and balls and bats are available to borrow from the cafe. These are limited, so if you have your own, it is best to bring them along.
The flood-lit astro-turf compound is available between 10am - 10pm and comes with changing facilities and toilets. It is suitable for football, hockey, netball, and tennis. They do, however, require booking.
Other Sports Facilities
Kennington Park also has tennis courts, basket ball courts, a football pitch, and a cricket green, which are free to use and do not require booking. The only downside here is that there is no guarantee that they won't already be occupied when you arrive.
Kennington Park has three playgrounds with the Charlie Chaplin Playground is situated outside the main park in the extension area. There is a 'Stay & Play' are which is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays 10am -1pm and Thursdays 1.30pm - 4.30pm. As well as outdoor equipment, it also includes indoor activities, such as arts & crafts, music and cookery. There is also the One o'clock Club for children under five, where kids can enjoy painting, storytelling, and dressing up.
The Flower Garden was opened in 1931 and was designed by Colonel JJ Sexby, then Chief Officer for the Parks of London County Council. Although the original plants have not survived, the layout is much the same. Despite being popular, the garden fell into disrepair for some years, but a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund saw it restored and reopened in 2015.
BeeUrban is a social enterprise group that aims to bring a positive influence on the environment and community through volunteer work, workshops, and other activities. As you might guess from the name, their specialist area is bees. BeeUrban holds open volunteering days every Thursday, in which you can learn all about gardening and beekeeping. They have their own apiaries, which you can visit on open days and training courses.
Kennington Park has its own nature trail made up of eight stations dotted around the park. It comes accompanied with an activity pack for children, which can be picked up at the cafe.
You don't have to go on the nature trail to appreciate the flora and fauna of the park though. There are lots of interesting plants to see, insect hotels and bird boxes to lookout for, and squirrels to be amused by.
Yep, dogs have their very own fenced off area, where owners can let them off the leash and play.
Found next to the Skate Bowl the War Memorial was unveiled in 1924 to commemorate the members of the 1/24th and 2/24th County of London Battalions, who died between 1914-1918 during the First World War. A second air-raid Memorial was built in 2006 in memory of the hundred civilians who died while hiding in a shelter during a 1940 air raid attack.
There are two fountains in the park; first is the Tinworth Fountain by George Tinworth, who was a resident sculptor at Doulton's Lambeth factory. On top of the fountain is one of his sculptures, called 'The Pilgrimage of Life'. The Slade Fountain was commissioned by local resident and founder of the School of Art, Felix Slade. It was installed in 1861 and based on the design on an Italian artist.
The cafe is the place to recharge your batteries with a hot drink, homemade soup or a sandwich. It also hold regular art and photographic exhibitions and is available to hire for private functions.