Finsbury Park – More than just a park

Finsbury Park

Finsbury Park can trace its roots back to the 1860’s when a much needed green space was required for the local area that had become overcrowded with the growth of newly built houses for the new middle classes that had recently moved into the area. It took over 20 years for locals to persuade the authorities the need for a park in the area.

However long before the park was even thought about this area had a rather illustrious past. The landscape would have had a major covering of woodland with small pockets of community. In the middle of all of this stood a public house called the Hornsey Woodhouse Tavern which was located on the edge of what is now Finsbury Park.

It was originally a small roadside public-house with a small lake where the weary wayfarer could rest and refresh himself. It was run by two sisters who by all accounts were cheery talkative women. After the sisters passed away the old tavern was pulled down and replaced with a much larger watering hole. The lake was enlarged making it popular with anglers and during the summer months the lake played host to those who wanted board a boat and serenely pass the time on the lake.

The grounds were laid out as teagardens and the grounds were used for pigeon shooting, all this at a cost of 10,000 pounds, a considerable amount of money at the time. Both the Wood and the “Wood House” were swept away, and the sites where Finsbury Park is today.

The park was opened in 1869, as a public recreation-ground and promenade for the working classes.  It was originally supposed to be named Albert Park however in the end Finsbury Park so called after the location of where the benefactors lived. Many locals felt it should have been called Hornsey Park after Hornsey Wood in which it was developed on.

So what was originally known as Hornsey Wood became a park for the locals with its sumptuous lake in the centre of the park and its two islands which gave the similar appearance of the Ornamental Waters in St James’s Park, due no doubt to the abundant quantity of ducks and other water-fowl parading them self around the lake.

The park which had many pleasurable walks and drives increased in popularity with its close proximity to the Railway it became a hub for Londoners looking for a place of relaxation and exercise and where visitors could admire the beautifully manicured park. Many political meetings were held in the park especially during the First World War when pacifist campaigners held rallies against the war these had a tendency to end in violence. During the Second World War, it hosted anti-aircraft guns and was one of the gathering points for heavy armour prior to the Normandy Landings on 6 June 1944.

During the 1970’s the park fell into neglect and it was not until the dawn of the new millennium that the park’s fortunes took an upturn, today Finsbury Park looks better than ever, after undergoing a £5million makeover thanks to the National Lottery. It provides a rich variety of landscapes and a variety of facilities now catering for twenty first century needs.

New facilities include an enclosed, dog free play area with an exciting water feature, designed by children, for children. A new and improved cafe building housing public toilets and open all year round and the construction of two Victorian styled seating shelters. There is bird seed available to purchase to feed ducks on lake.

It is now a very pleasant north London park, containing tennis courts, a running track, an occasional art gallery, a softball field and many open spaces for various leisure activities. It is also one of the most diverse places in London, with many different communities making use of the facilities. The park became an established music venue with notable artists including Morrisey, Sting, the Corrs, The Sex Pistols, Oasis plus many more.

The Seven Sisters Road on the south side of Finsbury Park, was constructed in 1832, prior to which time there was no thoroughfare through Holloway and Hornsey to Tottenham.


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