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The Peoples Park - Victoria Park

Known as the 'Peoples Park' or to locals 'Vicky Park'; it is one of London's favourite open spaces, the largest park in Tower Hamlets and one of London's most visited green spaces with approximately 9 million visitors every year. Stretched over a huge 86.18 hectares, it was opened to the public in 1845, designed by renowned architect Sir James Pennethorne, still remembered today by Pennethorne close, a road named after him which is a stone's throw from the North side of the park.

In the latter half of the 19th Century, Victoria Park became an essential amenity for the working classes of the East End. For some East End children in the 1880s, this may have been the only large stretch of uninterrupted greenery they ever encountered. Victoria Park's reputation as the 'People's Park' grew as it became a centre for political meetings and rallies. So it should come as no surprise that the scene at the numerous Speaker's Corners was a lively one. Although any one could set up their own soapbox, the biggest crowds were usually drawn to 'star' socialist speakers such as William Morris and Annie Besant. The tradition of public speaking in the park continued until well after the Second World War, and was still later reflected in politically oriented rock concerts, such as those held by Rock Against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League in the 1970s and 1980s. On 26 June 2014, a campaign to revive the Speakers' Corner at Victoria Park was launched at a democratic theatre event held in Shoreditch Town Hall.

During the Second World War, Victoria Park was largely closed to the public and effectively became one huge Ack-Ack (anti-aircraft) site. The war destroyed many of the park's beautiful early features, three lodges including the Bonner Lodge were completely reduced to rubble. The palm house was shattered, St Augustine's Church collapsed in on itself and the pagoda, Moorish shelter and lido were all damaged. With finances tight after the war ended these were sadly torn down rather than repaired.

In recent times, Victoria Park became noted for its open-air music festivals, often linked with a political cause. In 1978, Rock Against Racism organised a protest event against growth of far-right organisations such as the National Front. The concert was played by The Clash, Steel Pulse, X-Ray Spex, The Ruts, Sham 69, Generation X, and the Tom Robinson Band.[17] The 1980 rock docudrama Rude Boy features The Clash playing at an Anti-Nazi League event in the park. Radiohead played two concerts in the park on 24-25 June 2008. Madness celebrated their 30th year with a fifth Madstock there on 17 July 2009. The park has also become very popular amongst dance music's biggest names; Dutch DJ Tiësto played at Victoria Park in 2009 and again in 2010.[18] On 24-25 July 2010, Victoria Park was the site of the first High Voltage Festival. Victoria Park has also hosted Field Day, The Apple Cart, Underage Festival and Lovebox Festival.

In summer 2008, the park was voted London's best local park by Time Out magazine. In 2011 it won its first Green Flag award (which it has won every year since) and it was again voted London's favourite park, this time in the national People's Choice Award, a UK wide competition. In 2013 Victoria Park was also certified a Green Heritage Site by English Heritage and Keep Britain Tidy, an award given in recognition of achieving the required standard in the management and interpretation of a site with local or national historic importance.

Looking as good as it ever has 'Vicky Park' still plays an important role in the community, playing host to local football and cricket teams, whilst there is a café, boating lake and fantastic children's playground.

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