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Coordinates: 51°34′16″N 0°06′03″W / 51.5712°N 0.1009°W / 51.5712; -0.1009

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Finsbury Park is a 46 hectare (115 acre) public park in the London Borough of Haringey.[1] Officially part of the London area of Harringay,[2] it is also adjacent to Stroud Green, the Finsbury Park district and Manor House. It was one of the first of the great London parks laid out in the Victorian era.

Contents

Overview

Avenue of mature trees, Finsbury Park

The park provides a large green space in central north London. It has a mix of open ground, formal gardens, avenues of mature trees and an arboretum area with a mix of more unusual trees. There is also a lake, a children's play area, a cafe and an art exhibition space.

Sports facilities in the park include football pitches, a Bowling green (Finsbury Park Bowls Club[3]), an athletics stadium, and tennis and basketball courts. Unusually for London, the park hosts two facilities for "American" sports: an American football field, home to the 2007 and 2009 national champion London Blitz, and diamonds for softball and baseball, home to the 2007 and 2008 national champions the London Mets.

In recent years the park has been used for large public events such as Madstock, the Fleadh, Big Gay Out, Party in the Park and Rise: London United.

A £5 million Heritage Lottery Fund Award, made in 2003, enabled significant renovations including cleaning the lake, building a new cafe and children's playground and resurfacing and repairing the tennis courts.

History

Before the park

The park was landscaped on the northeastern extremity of what was originally a woodland area in the Manor or Prebend of Brownswood. It was part of a large expanse of woodland called Hornsey Wood that was cut further and further back for use as grazing land during the Middle Ages. In the mid eighteenth century a tea rooms had opened on the knoll of land on which Finsbury Park is situated. Londoners would travel out to escape the smoke of the capital and enjoy the last remains of the old Hornsey Wood. Around 1800 the tea rooms were developed into a larger building which became known as the Hornsey Wood House/Tavern. A lake was also built on the top of the knoll with water pumped up from the nearby New River. There was boating, a shooting and archery range, and probably cock fighting and other blood sports. The Hornsey Wood Tavern was destroyed in the process of making the area into a park, but the lake was enlarged. However, once the park had opened, a pub across the road from its eastern entrance along Seven Sisters Road called itself the Hornsey Wood Tavern after the original (the pub was later re-named the Alexandra Dining Room, but closed for business in April 2007. It was subsequently demolished.).

Creation of the park

Sunset in Finsbury Park

During the early part of the second quarter of the nineteenth century, following developments in Paris, Londoners began to demand the creation of open spaces as an antidote to the ever-increasing urbanisation of London. In 1841 the people of Finsbury in the City of London petitioned for a park to alleviate conditions of the poor. The present-day site of Finsbury Park was one of four suggestions for the location of a park. Originally to be named Albert Park, the first plans were drawn up in 1850. Renamed Finsbury Park, plans for the park's creation were finally ratified by an Act of Parliament in 1857. Despite some considerable local opposition, the park was formally opened on Saturday 7 August 1869. Although the park's name was taken from the area where the nineteenth century benefactors who created it lived, Finsbury Park had earlier been part of an area that bore the name as part of the Finsbury division of the Ossultone Hundred.

Twentieth century to present

The City from Finsbury Park

Through the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the park was a respectable and beautifully manicured space for people to relax and exercise. By the early twentieth century, it was also becoming a venue for political meetings including pacifist campaigns during the First World War. During World War II, it hosted anti-aircraft guns and was one of the gathering points for heavy armour prior to the D-Day invasions.

Despite decline during the 1970s, recent lottery funding has enabled something of a renaissance in the park's fortunes.

The park and music

The park became an established music venue. Notable events have included:

  • It was the site of a comeback concert by the Sex Pistols during their 1996 Filthy Lucre Tour.
  • In 1992 at the Madstock concert, Morrissey was heckled off stage by the crowd after performing his song "National Front Disco". Many fans took exception to the song as they believed that it had a pro-racism message, and Morrissey himself was seen on stage flailing a Union Jack, which is often used by far-right groups.
  • In 1997, KISS performed there for the last show of their hugely successful Alive/Worldwide Tour.
  • In 2002, Oasis used the park for a gig during their 2002 world tour.
  • In September 2003 rap-metal band Limp Bizkit played a huge free show in the park to make up for a cancelled UK date.[4]
  • In spring 2007, Groove Armada filmed their music video for the song Song 4 Mutya featuring Mutya Buena at the park.
  • Following their Christmas Number One, Rage Against the Machine will be playing a free gig on 6 June 2010 at the park.

Friends of Finsbury Park

A summer evening in Finsbury Park

The Friends of Finsbury Park [1], founded in 1986, publish a history of the park and organise a range of environmental and arts activities in the park. They have produced a Vision for Finsbury Park supported by many local people and community groups.

Images

Nearest tube and rail stations

References

Hayes, Hugh (2001), A Park for Finsbury, Friends of Finsbury Park, ISBN 0-9540637-0-8 

  1. ^ Finsbury Park Management Plan 2007 – 2011
  2. ^ Ward boundaries classify the park as being within Harringay Ward - Haringey Council Map showing the ward boundaries.
  3. ^ Bowlsclub.org - Finsbury Park (accessed 18/05/2008)
  4. ^ http://www.gorge.org/images/limpbizkit/

External links









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