At 31.1 hectares (77 acres), WEST HAM PARK is the largest open space in the London Borough of Newham. Among its recreational facilities are wildflower meadows, rough grassland and two wildlife gardens, including a wildlife pond and dipping platform. Edit
The park is owned and maintained by the City of London Corporation through a trust that provides annual support amounting to more than £1m. The park has won a number of awards, including Green Flag status and Green Heritage Site accreditation. In 2011 it was designated as the London in Bloom “Park of the Year” for its efforts to improve the local environment.
Documents dating back to 1566 show that the land was originally part of the Upton House estate. It was acquired in 1762 by philanthropist Dr John Fothergill, who created a botanical garden. After his death, the park passed into the hands of the Gurney family. When the family wished to sell the estate in the 1860s, local residents worked with the City of London and the family to raise funds to purchase the site and preserve it as open space. West Ham Park was officially opened on 20 July 1874.
The importance of the park as a habitat for wildlife is reflected in the management of a number of important areas, including wildflower meadows, long grass areas and two wildlife gardens, which include a wildlife pond and a dipping platform. All these areas are used as a learning resource by local schools and community groups.
BIRDS The park supports a broad range of bird species, many of which breed here. The birds are surveyed on a monthly basis by the Friends of West Ham Park, which in 2012 reported the following Top 20 species: (1) Feral Pigeon; (2) Woodpigeon; (3) Blackbird; (4) Common Gull; (5) Starling; (6) Carrion Crow; (7) Magpie; (8) Blue Tit; (9) Great Tit; (10) Mistle Thrush; (11) Robin; (12) Redwing; (13) Long-tailed Tit; (14) Lesser Black-backed Gull; (15) Pied Wagtail; (16) House Sparrow; (17) Jay; (18) Great Spotted Woodpecker; (19) Green Woodpecker; (20) Wren. Other notable birds include Goldcrest, Dunnock, Sparrowhawk and Garden Warbler. In addition, the park can attract passerine migrants such as Wheatear, Whinchat and Spotted Flycatcher.
OTHER VERTEBRATES Bat walks in the park have confirmed the presence of Common Pipistrelle and Soprano Pipistrelle, but other species are also believed to be present.
INVERTEBRATES A spider survey carried out in 2007-08 highlighted two nationally notable species of spider: Nigma walckenaeri and Syedra gracilis. Several other interesting species were trapped in small numbers. These were mostly species characteristic of undisturbed acid grassland, a habitat rare in the London area. They include Walckenaeria dysderoides, Argenna subnigra, Aloecosa cuneata and Haplodrassus signifier. The findings are listed here.
DIRECTIONS Little public parking is available near the site, and birders are therefore recommended to use public transport. The nearest tube stations are Plaistow and Upton Park (District Line), which are a 15-minute walk from the park. Stratford (Central and Jubilee Lines) is a 20-minute walk and West Ham (Jubilee Line) is 25 minutes away. The nearest Docklands Light Railway stations are Stratford (20 minutes) and Abbey Road (25 minutes). The nearest British Rail stations are Stratford and Forest Gate (20 minutes’ walk) and Woodgrange Park and Wanstead Park (25 minutes’ walk). Bus routes that pass the Park gates are the 104 (Stratford to Manor Park), 238 (Stratford to Barking), 325 (Beckton to Prince Regent Bus Station) and 678 (Beckton Bus Station to St George’s Road).
ACCESS The park opens every day at 7.30am and closes around dusk (January, November and December 4.30pm; February 5.30pm; March and October 6.30pm; April and August 8.30pm; May, June and July 9.30pm). There are seven pedestrian entrances to the park, all of which are wheelchair accessible and can be found on the official park map.
FACILITIES In summer, a refreshment van located outside the playground offers ice creams, hot and cold drinks and snacks. Four toilet blocks are located by the playground with one radar operated disabled toilet. Baby changing facilities are also available.
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