The Friends of Whitehall Recreation Ground is a voluntary group that was set up in late 2005 working in partnership with the London Borough of Bromley Parks department. The purpose of the group is to encourage the local community to have an involvement in the upkeep of the local park and have a stake in its future development.
We have run a series of successful events throughout the years, including the Bromley Beer Festival, Bark in the Park, Fun Day, Apple Day and Easter Egg Hunts. We have developed a range of habitats, including creating a hedgerow, stag beetle loggery, orchard, bat and bird boxes and creating a meadow and pond area. We also have a series of workdays throughout the year that range from habitat creation to daffodil planting. All the daffodils you see in the park were planted by local people and families.
If you would like more information and to be kept up to date with the latest news and events, please get in touch via our contact page or the facebook link.
About Whitehall Recreation Ground
About Whitehall Rec
Whitehall Rec is an open, community green space in the heart of Chatterton Village, Bromley Common. Year round, it promotes arboreal conservation, civic enhancement and community engagement. The 17.25 hectare green space and as we know it would not exist today had it not been for the vision and foresight of the Aldermen and Councillors of Bromley, who were witness to the massive wave of development spreading out from Bromley town centre, and of course many other areas during the Victorian era. The Bromley Urban District Council came into being in 1894, and one of it's first acts was to try and secure a recreation ground for the inhabitants of Bromley Common and Bickley. Several sites were considered and rejected as being too small, but eventually three fields totalling 14 acres became available and were purchased by the Council for £6500.
These belonged to the farm situated where Tredwell Close is now, called Whitehall Farm, from which the Rec takes it's name. Over the winter of 1904-5 these fields were levelled, and drainage installed, using unemployed men as labour, trees were planted along the paths, there were toilets and the whole park was enclosed with two main entrances, at Cowper/Walpole Road and at Southlands Road.
The farm itself carried on, presumably connected to the fruit orchards to the east, former residents in Cowper Road remember the farm having pigs and buying bacon from there.
The cost of the work was reported as £1100, and by the summer of 1905 it was ready for it's grand opening. Ten carriages conveyed the Mayor and other dignitaries to the Rec, to be greeted by flags, bunting, and the Bromley Borough Silver Prize band, together with the Bickley Brass band. There was a temporary pavilion for the event, and displays by the St Luke's gymnastic class, along with demonstrations by the Bromley Fire Brigade and St John's Ambulance, and after the speeches had been made and refreshments consumed, the bands played on into the evening.
Unfortunately, to date we have been unable to trace any photos or detailed plans of what the park looked like when opened, but the Mayor said in his speech "I look forward to the time when..... these trees which have been planted, will have grown, and will provide more shade, and when the flowers will have made it more beautiful."
Over the years the Rec developed ; the Bowling Club opened soon after and land had already been set aside for the Park Keepers Lodge, on the corner of Walpole and Cowper Roads, and several plots were sold for houses on the Southlands Road boundary. Documentary evidence has proved hard to come by, but from local memory by the middle of last century we had tennis courts, four football pitches in winter and two cricket pitches in summer, with a wooden pavilion and storage huts for sports equipment. There was an ornamental water fountain at the Cowper/Walpole entrance, a large plank swing, a boating pool where the current playground is, two sets of toilets, and a building intended as a gas de-contamination unit, which was then used as a mother and baby clinic.
Between then and the end of the century, the Rec seems to have slid into a gentle decline ; the East Ravensbourne was culverted and now runs under the path from Blenheim Road to Baths Road, at some point the tennis courts went, and the public toilets were demolished, the boating pool was filled in and replaced with play equipment, the clinic ceased to be used as such and was used as changing facilities for youth football until fairly recently, eventually being demolished just before the establishment of the Friends group in 2005.