Battersea Park is an 83-hectare (200-acre) green space on the south side of the Thames at Chelsea Reach, between Chelsea Bridge and Albert Bridge. It includes a large boating lake with islands and a 3-hectare (7-acre) local nature reserve consisting of woodland, scrub and meadow. Other features include a subtropical garden, a deer enclosure (still labelled as such, but no deer have been kept in the park for many years), a variety of sporting facilities and a children’s zoo. The park is owned by the London Borough of Wandsworth.
Address: Battersea Park, London SW11 4NJ (Map:; OS grid reference TQ280771)
Until the middle of the 19th century, the area now covered by the park was known as Battersea Fields. Separated from the Thames by a narrow raised causeway, the fields consisted of low but fertile marshes intersected by streams and ditches. Crops such as carrots, melons, asparagus and lavender were grown for the London markets. Running along the riverside were small industrial concerns including a pottery, copper works, lime kiln and chemical works, served by wharfs on the river.
In 1845, an application was made to Parliament for a Bill to form a Royal Park of 320 acres. The Act was passed in 1846 and £200,000 was promised for the purchase of the land. The Commission for Improving the Metropolis acquired 320 acres, of which 198 acres went on to become Battersea Park, which was opened in 1858. In the same year, the new Chelsea Bridge was opened, giving easy access to the park from north of the river.
From the start, the park was used for sporting activities, and in 1864 it hosted the first football game played under the rules of the recently formed Football Association. The park was home to Wanderers FC, winners of the first-ever FA Cup in 1872.
In 1951 the park was transformed into the “Pleasure Gardens” as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations. New features included a water-garden with fountains and a funfair, which eventually closed in 1974. In 1993, three hectares of wilder habitat on the east side of the park were incorporated into a local nature reserve. In 2002 the park closed for an £11m refurbishment programme, funded in part by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It reopened in 2004.
For birders, the more interesting parts of the site are the lake, the nature reserve and the river frontage. The lake has an irregular shape and features a number of large wooded islands. The main section of the LNR is The Wilderness, a linear plantation alongside Queenstown Road, which consists of woodland with four glades and a pond. Nearby is The Meadow, a circular belt of mixed woodland and scrub surrounding a managed meadow area.
Elsewhere in the park are tree-lined paths and areas of open grassland, although much of the open space is used for sporting activities. In total the park has more than 4,000 trees, including many dating back to the original layout of 1858.
According to London Wildweb, Battersea Park’s lake hosts locally significant numbers of waterfowl, including Shoveler and Tufted Duck. Other regularly occurring species include Pochard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall (the most breeding pairs on any Inner London site), Great Crested Grebe and a resident pair of Mute Swans. Teal are very rare at site 13 seen day after big storm on 28 Oct 13 were probably blown in by the storm. Since 2009 Egyptian Geese have become more frequent and in 2011 Red-crested Pochard and Egyptian Geese both bred for first time. The islands in the lake support one of London's larger heronries, with up to 32 Grey Heron nests noted in recent years and Cormorant winter roosts up to 200 birds. The Wilderness and The Meadow support a range of woodland birds, including Blackcap and Bullfinch(?).
Birds listed on the Friends of Battersea Park website are Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mallard, Gadwall, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Ruddy Duck (seen in 2008), Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Wood Pigeon, Ring-necked Parakeet, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Robin, Blackbird, Wren, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch and Greenfinch. Woodcock can be seen in winter. Osprey has been seen in 2008. (The list is taken from one produced by the RSPB after a couple of bird-spotting events, but only on the south side of the lake, so is probably incomplete; additions to it include Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Goldcrest, Treecreeper and Jay.)
The Friends website mentions squirrels, foxes, bats, hedgehogs(?), rats, mice, terrapins and frogs.
English Nature says that The Wilderness and The Meadow support 20 species of butterfly, including the rare White-letter Hairstreak. Stag Beetles and Lesser Stag Beetles can frequently be seen in May(?). Other notable invertebrates include the Flower Bug (Anthocoris minkii), the Lily Beetle (Lilioceris lilii) and a nationally notable hoverfly, Volucella zonaria.
The Park is a short distance from Battersea Park and Queenstown Road mainline stations. From the former, exit to the right along Battersea Park Road, walk 50m to traffic lights and turn right into Queenstown Road; the park is on the left after 150m. From the latter, exit to the right along Queenstown Road and the park is on the left after 300m.
The nearest London Underground station is Sloane Square, from which there is a 1km walk south via Sloane Street and Chelsea Bridge Road or alternatively, take a 137 or 452 bus. Other bus routes passing by or near the park include 19, 44 (from Victoria station), 49, 156, 239, 319, 344 and 345. Visitors looking for somewhere to stay during their visit will find that the Sloane Square hotels are amongst the closest. These are typically 4 or 5 star properties but you'll be able to find some more affordable options further you away from the station.
If arriving by car, be aware that you will have to pay to park. Parking in the surrounding streets is almost exclusively permit-holder-only or pay-and-display. Several pay-and-display car parks can be found inside the park. At the time of writing (2011), the parking fee on weekdays is £1.80 per hour for up to four hours and £20 for longer stays. On Saturday and Sunday the fee is £2 for up to two hours and £4 for longer visits. Disabled badge holders park free for up to three hours, with no limit at weekends. Overnight parking is forbidden.
The park has free public access. It officially opens at 8am but the gates are often open earlier. It officially closes at dusk, but some gates are left open later to allow users of some sports venues to play a bit later.
Public toilets can be found at several sites within the park. A number of shelters allow you to hide from the weather. Food and drink can be obtained at a number of places in and around the park. La Gondola al Parco, by the park lake, serves Italian food, coffee and ice creams, and you can sit outside watching the waterfowl. The Tea Terrace Kiosk, hidden between the fountains and the children’s zoo, serves drinks, sandwiches and other snacks. A number of ice cream vans are usually situated around the park during the summer.
Within easy reach outside the park are numerous cafés, pubs and restaurants, particularly on Battersea Park Road.
This page has been cobbled together from various internet sources by someone who has never visited the site but thinks that it deserves a page on this website because it keeps cropping up on the Latest News page. If you are familiar with the site, please correct, expand and/or update this information (and delete or amend this paragraph).