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Albert Gardens Tower Hamlets

Albert Gardens

Shepherd Boy statue in Albert Gardens, September 2010. Photo: S Williams

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Albert Square was built in the early 1840s, renamed Albert Gardens in 1937. In 1899 there was a proposal to build houses on the central garden in the square but the LCC compulsorily purchased the land and opened Albert Square Garden to the public in 1902. In the north of the garden is a C19th drinking fountain topped by a statue, 'Shepherd Boy', which was erected in 1903 by the MPGA.
Previous / Other name: Albert Square Garden
Site location: Commercial Road, Stepney
Postcode: E1
Type of site: Garden Square; Public Gardens
Date(s): 1831-41; 1902
Listed structures: LBII: Albert Gardens 1-16 (consec.) and area railings, 17-28 (consec.) and area railings, 29-39 (consec.) and area railings; drinking fountain in Gardens
Borough: Tower Hamlets
Site ownership: LB Tower Hamlets
Site management: Leisure Services, Parks and Open Spaces
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: 8am - dusk
Special conditions:
Public transport: London Overground/DLR: Shadwell. Bus 15 (check others)
Albert Gardens, September 2010. Photo: S Williams
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Albert Gardens, September 2010. Photo: S Williams
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The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/08/2013
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Fuller information:

Of the many squares developed on either side of the Commercial Road in the early C19th, Albert Square remains almost intact. The terraced houses around three sides of the square were built in the early 1840s. In June 1899 there was a proposal to build houses on the central garden in the square but, following an appeal to the LCC by the Limehouse Board of Works, the ground was eventually saved 'for the public benefit'. The LCC's Parks and Open Spaces Committee was keen to preserve the garden in an area with relatively few public open spaces but the landowner's initial asking price was too high. It was not until November 1900 that the LCC applied to compulsorily purchase the land, and a price of 10,560 was agreed. Works to the garden included provision of a drinking fountain and two additional entrances at a cost of 650. Albert Square Garden was opened to the public in March 1902, with an opening ceremony presided over by John Piggott. It was declared open by Mr Ben Cooper who according to the report in The Times on 25 March 1902 said 'he hoped the time was not far distant when the borough councils and the London County Council combined would bring pressure upon Parliament to give the latter authority power to acquire compulsorily the open squares of the metropolis'. Albert Square Garden was renamed Albert Gardens in 1937 when the LCC was rationalising street names in order to avoid duplication.

The garden retains its mature plane trees and is now enclosed by replacement railings. It has a single perimeter walk, and is divided into two enclosures. The south enclosure has a cast-iron C19th drinking fountain. The north side is set to lawn with a C19th (now disused) drinking fountain topped by a statue of Shepherd Boy, inscribed 'DFF' upon the base, made in Paris and erected in 1903 by the MPGA. In early 2013 plans for improving the gardens were put forward for public consultation, but to date work has not commenced (August 2013). If undertaken, the work will include relocating the children's play area to the centre of the park and installation of new play equipment, improvement to signage and park furniture, new paths, restoration/cleaning of the historic drinking fountain and statue and some planting.

Sources consulted:

Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Tom Ridge, Central Stepney History Walk, (Central Stepney Regeneration Board) 1998; Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928; Albert Gardens Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Guidelines, October 2007; 'An East-End Open Space' The Times, 25 March 1902
Grid ref: TQ355811
Size in hectares: 0.2766
On EH National Register : No
EH grade :
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
On Local List:
In Conservation Area: Yes
Conservation Area name: Albert Gardens
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: No
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation: London Squares Preservation Act, 1931

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