Trying to picture London: the bowling green in Clissold Park

by tim bradford on October 2, 2006

Today I’m trying to picture London. It’s now almost 6 months since we left and images are obviously in the process of being moved from short to long-term memory tanks, because I can’t see them. To compensate I’ve been flicking through Wonderful London (Ed. St. John Adcock), a three volume set from 1926. This is the bowling green before it stopped being a bowling green and became an teen alcopops awareness centre. If this picture was taken now there’d be a mad-looking bloke with a bull terrier striding towards the camera shouting obscenities.

The text with the photo says:

“STOKE NEWINGTON IN SUMMER-TIME: THE BOWLING GREEN AT CLISSOLD PARK
A long journey through the dreary Kingsland Road and on through Stoke Newington brings one to Church Street, a curious survival in the surrounding villadom. There are old houses and a small sixteenth-century church, mellow with years, and farther on the fifty-two green acres of Clissold Park, through whose ordered lawns runs the New River. Beyond the bowling green is the spire of the modern parish church, built by Sir Gilbert Scott to replace the old one which was put up when the congregation was that of a country village.”

Don’t know about the copyright situation with pics like this. The photo was credited to someone called McLeish. Bowls_9

{ 104 comments }

Deborah Allwright October 13, 2006 at 11:50 pm

I’ve just discovered your poignant posting of the demise of the Clissold Park Bowling Green.
I’m locally trying to revive interest in keeping on, what appears to be the last bowling green in Hackney – at Springfield Park – not far from Cazenove road. If anyone would like to comment pass on support, the time is NOW! A council decision for granting £’s towards maintenance of this Green is immanent.Please respond to http://www.hackney.gov.uk/index.htm/l-mayor-cabinet-councillors/l-cabinet.htm

Gareth October 15, 2006 at 10:00 pm

The Bowling Green in the photo looks like it’s in the Rose Garden and not the abandoned one near the arthritic goats cage.
Maybe more than one green was required to satisfy demand for bowling in its heyday.
I really enjoyed the Groundwater Diaries. I used to live on Mountgrove Road and it really inspired me to do a bit of research about the local subterranean rivers.
But I’ll leave the Super strength lager experiments to your good self!

Tim October 16, 2006 at 2:44 pm

Thanks for your comments. And well spotted, Gareth. I was a bit confused looking at the pic, thinking I had the perspective in my memory a bit mixed up. It also explains the contours of the Rose Garden. I know there are two kinds of bowls – Crown Green and, er, the other one. Perhaps there were rival factions in Clissold Park.
As for the plan to save the last bowling green, it seems almost to represent a state of mind, when speed wasn’t the most important thing in people’s lives. It would be interesting to know if there are any martial arts clubs in the area that might take on bowls as part of their meditative practice.

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