Third in a series of articles on Pimlico, putting words to page on an area of London that I’ve lived in for a few years. If these read well, I might cover other parts of London I know or explore in the same manner. You can use the ‘Pimlico’ category tag on this site to see the related posts. This one is about the public gardens of the area.
With St James’ Park, Hyde Park, Green Park and Battersea Park all within a short distance of Pimlico, it’s easy to forget that Pimlico itself does have some outdoor spaces in which to catch some fresh (for London, anyway) air.
Looking at Pimlico on Google Maps, you can quickly spot five such open spaces, but only three of them are actually open to the public. Warwick Square gardens and Eccleston Square gardens are only for residents of those two squares.
The other three, however, are open to the public between certain hours, despite two of them also appearing to be connected to the neighbouring buildings. None of them are large, but according to the signs on the entrance they have been known to win awards, and Westminster does maintain them well.
All three of the open spaces are next to a main road, so they aren’t exactly the best place to relax and unwind, unless you can zone out the traffic. It was a nice February day when I had a little explore to get some photos for this post, but please bear in mind that it was still winter – the gardens are not exactly in full bloom. I may revisit in the summer to update the pictures, but in the meantime I have also linked to the Westminster.gov.uk page for each garden, where better pictures can be found.
A small green with a wide path running through it, Bessborough Gardens is surrounded by walls and it is easy to think that it is only for the gated community that borders two sides. That is not the case, however, and the garden is open to all. There is a large fountain at one end, and benches throughout. They were a bit damp from rain on the day I visited so I didn’t spend much time here, but the most notable thing I picked up was that traffic is loud here, with the garden being right next to Vauxhall Bridge and the namesake road. Emergency vehicles often use this bridge to travel north/south, so it is hard to generate any lasting sense of peace here, interrupted as it is by the sirens. That being said, it is a pretty little place, so it is still somewhere to collect your thoughts and rest for a while.
A short walk around the corner from Vauxhall Bridge Road is Pimlico Gardens. This small park actually borders the Thames, so has a nice feel to it despite the busy road behind it. Traffic doesn’t move along Grosvenor Road at nearly the level of Vauxhall Bridge Road, so it does have a calmer atmosphere, aided by the Thames flowing by on the south. Across the river are the buildings of St George’s Wharf, the U.S. Embassy and Nine Elms. It is lined on most sides by tall trees, so in the summer I imagine it is even more tranquil.
On the day I was there, a lone couple braved one of the benches, cuddled up and wrapped for warmth as they watched me trying to get pictures of the location that would do it justice.
Pimlico Gardens is also home to Westminster Boating Base. There is a reasonable population of people in the area who use this to launch their floaty things (I’m not good at nautical terms, sorry), and if you stand on Vauxhall Bridge on Sundays you can see younglings being taken out by instructors onto the Thames to be taught in the way of the force canoeing and kayaking. Having watched them learn to perform barrel rolls in the Thames, or perform tricks using the swell coming off the bridge supports, I can say that they are all quite a bit braver than me.
Just across Grosvenor Road from Pimlico Gardens is the greenery of St George’s Square. This is another garden that would appear to be private space for residents but it is actually open to the public. This one is split in two, with a third of the space at the Grosvenor Road end being a dedicated dog park, where local dog owners can let their furry friends run free and play. I had wondered if something like that existed in the area for a while, as I know there are a fair few dogs in Pimlico – I had been trying to work out where they go for shorter walks.
The other two-thirds of the park are a nice open space, and even in winter I could see a few splashes of colour as some early flowers made their presence known. This park also contains a small fountain in an area that I must be quite pleasant to sit during the spring and summer. At one end of the park is St Saviour’s Church, giving the park a contemplative air if you are looking in the direction. This garden is also the closest to Pimlico underground station, just past the church.
It’s a shame that the other two gardens are not open to the public. But there are much larger parks in the vicinity, with Battersea being a fifteen-minute stroll along the Thames, and providing plenty of open space and rewards for those that explore it fully. There is also a small public playground just at the end of Tachbrook Street, giving children a space to clamber over things for a while.
The combined run of St James’ Park, Green Park and then Hyde park, which all neighbour each other and start only a mile from Pimlico, more than make up for any minor dearth of open spaces in Pimlico, but it’s nice to know there are some around if you want to sit outside and enjoy a little greenery for a while.
You can use the ‘Pimlico’ category tag on this site to see the related posts.