It was, astonishingly, sunny and pleasant on Sunday so the wife and I decided to make the most of it with a walk to Dulwich, visiting the park and the village. That’s not Camberwell so I won’t bore you with that, but on the way back we decided to take a little trip around Ruskin Park.
The park was named in honour of the Victorian poet/painter/artist/critic John Ruskin who lived nearby until the expansion of the railways spoiled his view and he left in a huff. The site of his old house is where the Champion Hill Estate now sits.
I think he would probably be a little disappointed with his tribute; when it was opened in 1907 I’m sure it was lovely, but in the years since it’s become a little… let’s say, scruffy. We entered via the upper gate on Denmark Hill and first impressions were good; well-kept grass, lots of flowers, a few random architectural remains. But the further we walked, the more run down it became. There’s an overgrown bowling green, the bandstand is surrounded by aluminium fencing, the ground alternates between overgrown grass and patches of scrub. Unimpressive.
There were facilities which may have been impressive 15 years ago; a large football pitch (gravel, unfortunately, which explains why a large group preferred to play on the park with jumpers for goalposts), a few tennis courts and a childrens play area — a small square of overgrown grass with a tree stump in the middle. The entrance board also claimed there was a pond, but either we didn’t pass it or it was so covered in algae that it just looked like grass.
It’s a shame that it’s been left to run down, because the park is a good size and had a big crowd of people in it. A little investment would go a long way there. There were a couple of posters up for a group called Friends of Ruskin Park [Update: That’s what I thought they were called, but seems I was mistaken] who are campaigning for improvements. Good luck to them.
On the way home we dropped into The Phoenix so I could have a Leffe. The Sunday roast in there looks great, but I’ve been stung by their food before. Maybe I’ll try it, in the spirit of scientific adventure.