Battersea Warf

Battersea Wharf. Riverside walk laid out by MPGA in 1896 from reclaimed land
Victoria Park Cemetry

Victoria Park Cemetery. Laid out as Meath Gardens by MPGA in 1893/94
Albion Square

Albion Square. Laid out as a public garden by MPGA in 1899 after being rescued from dereliction


HISTORY

The Metropolitan Public Gardens Association was established in 1882. The first Chairman and moving spirit in its foundation was Lord Brabazon, later the first Earl of Meath.

The principal object was stated in its Constitution to be "the protection, preservation, safeguarding and acquiring for permanent preservation for public use, of gardens, disused burial grounds, churchyards, open spaces, areas of land likely to be used for building purposes, strips of land adjoining roads and footpaths, or any land situated within the Metropolitan Police District or in its vicinity." An additional object was, and still is, the provision of seats and the planting of trees.

Initially, the MPGA gave its highest priority to the most deprived inner city areas of London, where over-crowding was at its worst. The opening up of churchyards and burial grounds was important in this respect and was greatly facilitated by an Act of Parliament promoted by the Association. Garden squares were also a concern, threatened as they were by neglect and the threat of being sold for building development as it was not until the 1930s that they were fully protected by legislation.

From the outset, the Association recognised the need for the creation of new public open spaces to keep up with the growth of the urban population and the expanding suburbs. It actively campaigned to preserve open spaces and used its own resources, including its own designers and workforce. The Association often acted as a catalyst between local residents and philanthropic land owners within the MPGA's membership, who made land available for new parks and recreation grounds.

The MPGA, which was recognised as one of the leading charities in its field, helped in the formation and development of several amenity organisations, such as the National Trust and the National Playing Fields Association. It also campaigned for school playgrounds to be made available for public use out of school hours and for private garden squares to be opened to the public at designated times.

Since the inauguration of the MPGA 130 years ago, the emphasis of its work has adapted to the immense changes undergone in London and the suburbs, while at the same time keeping faith with its original objects.



Petersham Common

Petersham Common. The MPGA assisted in formulating the Metropolitan Commons Supplemental Act, which formed the foundation of the preservation of Petersham Common in 1899/1890 (Richmond area)
Cricket Green, Mitcham

Cricket Green, Mitcham. The MPGA helped to prevent this famous historic village green cricket ground from being destroyed by an ill-conceived highway scheme in 1938.
Cleary Gardens

Cleary Gardens Created by the MPGA from a former bomb site to celebrate its Centenary in 1982