Summer Solstice Challenge: Day Four

I’m not going to lie – today was tough! Firstly getting up early to go for a long-ish run was quite hard, although to be honest I wake up early anyway. But my legs were definitely feeling it after 30km in 4 days, and felt quite lead like.

A beautiful oak tree on Drayton Green. The council bought the land for public use in the late 19th century. The running track on the Green has been here since 1932!

However I am so pleased I went out then, when the heat was still bearable. Later it went over 30 deg C and running in that would have been tougher than tough!

Walpole Park – the land belonged to Sir John Soane and was bought by Ealing Council in 1899.

My route today took me through local urban parks – Drayton Green, Walpole Park, Lammas Park, Blondin Park, Elthorne Park, and then Brent Lodge Park (aka the Bunny Park) by way of the canal towpath. It got me thinking about the importance of local parks to communities, especially in recent months, when we have been so restricted in where we can go.

Lammas Park – home of the incomparable Ealing Half Marathon! The start pen is all along this avenue of chestnut trees. Lammas land was where tenants of the manor in medieval times could graze their animals for free after the harvest on 1st August.

Ealing was largely developed in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The Victorians were responsible for the development of urban parks and recreation grounds. The urban population explosion resulting from the industrial revolution meant that society was confronted with health and social problems on a larger, and more concentrated, scale than had been seen before. One way this was addressed was by the promotion of outdoor pursuits, including gardening, and the idea of clean air and the supposedly civilising effects of strolling around beautiful gardens and parks. Starting in the 1830’s land was given, or purchased, for turning into public parks and gardens. They were laid out by some of the greatest designers of the time.

Wild flowers in Blondin Park

Acts of parliament in the later half of the century ensured that local councils had greater powers to purchase and maintain such spaces. Of course although the principles behind such philanthropy and effort appeared noble and true, there is always another side. They hoped that these public gardens would exert a positive influence on the behaviour and attitudes of the ‘lower classes’. I read an article here that highlights the fact that human nature is what it is and has always been, and children in particular were just as likely to be a bit naughty in Victorian times as they are now!

Elthorne Park a slightly random deer statue…

There is a great article here that has a more detailed ( but very readable!) article about the history of urban parks and open spaces.

And finally into the Bunny Park before heading for home and some breakfast!

One more 10k to go – probably on Friday. Thanks for reading!

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