- Longbridge Road, Barking (map of this place)
Barking Park is a classic Victorian park, some 30 hectares in size, and roughly rectangular in shape (see this aerial view). On the north side it is bounded a long and narrow lake that is home to a variety of bird life, and of which one end is available as a boating lake in the summer. The park itself contains numerous sporting facilities, including football and rugby pitches, tennis courts, a basketball court, bowling greens and a skate park. There's also a children's playground and a minature railway that runs along the park's west side. There is also a First World War memorial. All in all, Barking Park is a fine example of a Victorian public space.
However, on a sadder note, it also has a 1930s lido that has been closed since 1989 - visible as a U-shaped structure on the aerial view of the park (and still present on streetmap.co.uk's map). The buildings still stand, in derelict condition - the windows are covered up with metal grilles, and peering through one of the windows affords a glimpse of the rusted pipes of the pump room. The gates are rusty and locked shut, and the entrance area beyond them is filled with loathsome graffiti. The pool itself is visible beyond as a forest of weeds (it was filled with spoil at the time of closure). A company recently tried to get planning permission to demolish it to build a pub on the site, but was turned down on repeated occasions by the mayor, despite the local council agreeing, because it would have damaged the fine character of the park.
On a much much happier note! Barking Park The council has recently received a heritage lottery fund in order to restore and improve the park, with plans to redevelop the lido area to form a wet play area and sun terrace. There are plans to build a visitor centre, classroom and cafe as well develop the boating lake and moving the boats nearer to the n ew facilities.
Barking park also aim to improve the local biodiversity by creating wild flower meadows and planting edging plants at certain parts of the lake.