Monday 18 June 2007

Twinkle Park

Hidden away at the bottom of Watergate Street - even more tucked away than the Dog & Bell, which is just up the road - is this charming little park. This part of Deptford is a strange backwater with cobbled streets that seem to meander purposelessly around the old wharves and housing estates without actually leading anywhere.

Of course the layout of the roads round here is a legacy from Deptford's shipbuilding history. Just across the street from Twinkle Park, in fact, and inaccessible behind a high wall most of the time, is the master shipwright's house, built in 1708 for Joseph Allen.

Before its redesign in 1992, Twinkle Park was reportedly a derelict and unloved area of public space. Now it houses a children's play area, which doubles as a school playground during school hours, and small but pretty little pond, full of irises and surrounded by wooden decking and flower beds.

Between the two areas is a stainless steel 'bandstand' structure, which consists of hinged seats on wheels. During school hours, the seats are intended to divide the park in two and provide security. At evenings and weekends they are rolled back and open the space for use by all the local children.

I was taken by surprise the other day when I passed Twinkle Park and saw someone sitting on one of the benches in the wildlife area. It's not often that I see anyone in this part of the park, although the play area is usually packed with kids, shouting and tearing around to their hearts' content. But the pond is usually deserted - the moorhen and her tiny chick were the only occupants the day before, picking their way between the pond weed and water lilies.

Strange as it may seem, Twinkle Park is actually in Greenwich borough. For some peculiar reason Greenwich extends across Deptford Creek and encompasses this section of what should naturally fall into Lewisham borough. Perhaps at the last carving up, Greenwich did a swap with Lewisham for a bit more river frontage (although what they might have swapped is beyond me!).

And don't be fooled by the quiet and peaceful surroundings - the area is not without its controversy. Last year there was outrage when it was revealed that Councillor Margaret O'Mara, who is the chair of the Twinkle Park Trust, had failed to declare her interest when sitting on the council's planning committee and considering the application to demolish Borthwick Wharf, directly opposite the park. The Creekside Forum, which opposed the demolition and associated proposals to build a new block of - yes, you've got it - luxury apartments, called on the council to quash the decision to approve the application. The Trust stood to benefit from payouts from the developers.

However the committee (minus Ms O'Mara) eventually approved the proposal when it was re-submitted, and Borthwick Wharf is no more. I look forward to seeing how the trust will spend its windfall - the park is looking a little shabby and could do with another injection of cash. Let's hope the new residents appreciate this tiny area of green space to its full potential.


kate said...

Hello, i have never heard of twinkle park. Cool name though. looks like there is more to Deptford than i gave it credit for.

Unknown said...

I spent my upbringing at twinkle park deptford great memories 🤸‍♂️🤸‍♀️

Anonymous said...

I was a kid in the eatly 60s playing in twinkle park and my girl friend linda cowley from armada st - i myself was living in benbow st - i visit twinkle once a year ---

Anonymous said...

Was there a old cemetery with skulls on the front gates? I grew up in Watergate st in the 60's and I always remember Twinkle park as being the place where the skulls were?