Visit to East London Waterworks Park

18th January 2022

On the border of Hackney and Waltham Forest, local people are campaigning to transform a historic waterworks into a ‘brownfield rainforest’ with support from CPRE London through our ‘Ten New Parks’ initiative. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, the East London Waterworks Park community group is forging ahead with its plans. Abigail Woodman tells us about a recent visit to the site and sets out a vision for the future.

The site of the East London Waterworks Park is still a working depot despite being frequently referred to as the ‘former Thames Water Depot’. I’ve tried to mosey on in several times, but have always been stopped by the security guards, politely but firmly making it clear that I cannot just wander around and have a look.

I had to be invited on an official site visit.

It took a while to organise but – thanks in most part to the efforts of MP Stella Creasy’s team – five of us were finally able to visit in November. And it was really exciting!

Visiting the site at East London Waterworks Park

The site is much, much bigger than you imagine from the outside. In my mind, it was all buildings, but the Engineer’s House and the engine sheds are far from dominating. What catches your breath is the space.

Boulevard with blue doors
“I can see people milling here in summer sunshine.” | Abigail Woodman

There’s space to create places for people to grow and space to create places for nature to grow, space for both to thrive.

We came away feeling invigorated and full of ideas.

Looking to the future

There’s a wide boulevard between the Prince and Princess Engine Shed and the Triples Shed. I can see people milling here in summer sunshine.

There’s a walled courtyard that is crying out to become a walled garden.

Walled courtyard

The site is currently filled with all sorts of materials used to maintain our drinking water and sewage infrastructure. It’s hard to appreciate the sense of scale from a photo, but standing here we could imagine swimming amongst reeds.

And it was wonderful to stumble across the cobbles and follow the old path around the southern perimeter of the site. This is a walk I can imagine lots of us taking in years to come.

Cobbles at East London Waterworks

I hope you too can see past, the present and into the future – whether it’s the future of the East London Waterworks Park, the future of our society or your own future. May it be bright and full of joy.

Find out more about our campaign to create ten major new parks for London