Most Londoners don’t seem to know that the Thames Barrier has its own park. Opened to the public in 2000, it lies on the north bank of the Thames with a commanding view of, yep you guessed it: the Thames Barrier. The Park was designed by Parisian landscape architect Alain Provost and London based architects Patel Taylor. It included some ambitious and dramatic ideas such as a trench of undulating hedges that lead up to a Pavilion of Remembrance, dancing water fountains and of course an impressive view of the Flood Barrier.
The site has a toxic past, quite literally. An armaments factory, tarmac plant, chemical and dye works once spouted and spewed their pollutants into the land here before they were cleared for the Thames Barrier construction site. Decontaminating the land before it could be transformed into what we see today must have been a colossal challenge.
Years have come and gone and the once manicured park had begun to shrug off its designers’ intentions. Interesting isn’t it? How a designer’s concept and best intentions are only ever as good as how they are maintained? Interesting how a design and intention can be altered entirely by the passage of time and how people interact with it?
So here is the reality of the Thames Barrier Park as we saw it on our recent visit.
Located right beside Pontoon Dock DLR station, the park is in a neglected section of the Docklands that is now undergoing a surge of regeneration.
The once finely trimmed hedges are now a little dishevelled and the wooden decked areas are splintered and broken in parts. The air is different here too, I can’t put my finger on it but I know for sure that it doesn’t have that laid back feel you get in London’s more famous parks. Guess what? We can like it just as it is. The view that it is named after, the feat of engineering that is the mighty Thames Barrier is still the most prominent sight. However, the view it has of the once magnificent abandoned Millennium Mills is poignant.
The former flour mill closed down in 1992 and has since fallen deeper into a state of dereliction. You can read about its history HERE. Millennium Mills is known to every urban explorer in London for sure. Location scouts and film-makers have also had the epically proportioned building on their lists for decades. It’s been the setting for Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket and Terry Gilliam’s Brazil to name but a few films.
The newspapers say that £3.2 BILLION is being pumped into the regenerating the area. Whilst construction sites dominate the skyline, so much remains still derelict.
|For the curious|