Winner of ‘best new public space’ in the London Planning Awards 2011, Ladywell Fields is a lovely open space which has been hugely improved by a London Development Agency £2m project.
It offers a clean, friendly feeling park, popular with joggers, paddlers and run-arounders alike. It is home to an adventure playground, small children’s play area, stream for paddling and around 54 acres of quiet open space.
MUMMY’S GIN FUND SAYS:
A frequent walk for me and my twins, I love the quiet feel of the park and the open green spaces. The large fields make it seem very far away from the city, despite the large development going up in Catford, nearby. It’s easy to spend a few hours meeting other parents between the play areas or just walking the nicely paved paths, stopping for a tea. Smaller kids also love seeing the trains pull up to Ladywell station. The circular bridge can be a bit daunting as it’s a bit steep [especially when pushing a double stroller!] but it’s not bad after the first time across it; do be careful of the cyclists who tend to barrel down the ramps.
I would also caution that whilst the river is accessible, the sides are very slippery and the bottom a bit rocky. I have seen a few children slip and atleast one adult fall in, so please be careful. Lastly, Prendergast College is next to the southern/western bit of the park and so there is a flurry of activity for a short while when school lets out.
Address: Ladywell Fields runs adjacent to Lewisham High Street behind Lewisham Hospital.
Playgrounds: There are 4 playground areas as well as a basketball court, tennis courts, bowling green, a skate park and an interactive nature reserve section alongside the Ravensbourne River.
Western/Southern section has a small play area nearest to Catford Bridge entrance. This is probably better for 6 and up. It has a high slide, a seesaw, a weight-balances swing, and a few picnic tables. It is adjacent to a community orchard filled with new fruit trees, across from the entrance to the Bowling Club.
There is a bridge further along (where many people stand to watch ducks and herons) where there are steps down to the river. There are many trees on this side with shade for picnics with smaller people.
Middle section has a channel for smaller explorers to play with water hand pumps and walk along the rocky, sometimes watery bottom. There are more steps to access the river here as well – a somewhat shallow area which older children are often playing in during summer. This is also where the Adventure Playground is located. The Adventure Playground (Open: Tuesday to Friday 3:15–7pm, Saturday 11am–5pm; School holidays: M to F 11am–6pm), is a fenced in area intended for 8 -16 year olds. Parents/Caregiver must remain onsite with those under 8. All participants must register, and sign in and out. Inside, there is a large sandpit and lots of more advanced wooden bridges, climbing, etc., and also an inside games room with a tuck shop. The entrance is off Malyons Road (resident parking only). The site telephone is: 0203-538-9230 or 07981404851.
Southern Section houses the most active bits of the park. There is a basketball court as well as tennis courts near the Albacore Crescent entrance.
Near the large circular bridge is the Children’s Playground, which is ideal for younger children and toddlers. The toddler area has rocking toys and a small structure to crawl on. The playground also houses a small zip-line, swings, a few slides and climbing structures, and baby swings. It is a popular area, and also has a few picnic tables and several benches.
Down from the playground is a decent sized skate park with a few nice drops and decent ramps.
Across from the Cafe is another small play area, which has a slide, a wooden boat structure and a small climbing structure. There are a few picnic tables and benches here as well as access to water. It seems a popular meeting/picnic spot.
Cafe: Located in the Northern section of the park and called Ten Thousand Hands it is run by local social enterprise ForJimmy. There are a few spots to sit inside and several tables outside. It serves mostly sweet cakes, drinks and ice cream. Expresso drinks are about £2.50. Babychinos are 80p. Cakes and brownies are around £2.
Toilets: Located at the cafe. No baby changing facility.
There is an accessible facility requiring a key from the cafe.
Pram / wheelchair / mobility friendly: Yes; note that the large circular bridge is accessible, but also quite steep.
Parking: Free street parking is available on Manwood Road / Ravensbourne Park, alongside the park’s West entrance. There are a few pay and display spots on Albacore Crescent (near Lewisham’s hospital’s maternity entrance). There is also street parking at the Ewhurst Road entrance, next to Prendergast College.
Nearest Stations: It is located near Ladywell Station at the northern end of the park, Catford Bridge at the southern end. Both stations are less than a 5 minute walk.
Crofton Park station is about a 15 minute walk from the western entrance.
DLR: Nearest is Lewisham and then a bus to Lewisham Hospital.
Bus: There are a number buses routes that pass nearby; see this TfL map for more information http://www.lewishampensionersforum.org/pdf/busmap.pdf
Phone: 020 8318 3986 (Glendale Parks Management).
Email: The Ladywell Fields User Group current Chair is Tony Rich and the Secretary is Robert Sheppard, both of whom can be contacted at [email protected]
Ladywell Fields is an expansive and clean green space that runs between Catford and Ladywell and is around a mile long.
The park, which consists of three adjoining fields, extends to 22 hectares (54 acres), follows the course of the River Ravensbourne, and is part of the Waterlink Way cycling and walking route. It is a key cycling and walking route and popular with joggers and dog walkers.
Ladywell began to develop as a suburb of London with the arrival of the railway station in 1857, and in 1889 land between the River Ravensbourne and the station was bought by London County Council and Lewisham District Board of Works. Further parcels of land were bought in 1891 and ’94 and the whole area was laid out as a public amenity and named Ladywell Recreation Ground.
The land was originally water meadows, and therefore liable to flooding, so extensive work was done prior to the park’s opening and, over time, the river channel was straightened, widened and weirs added.There were substantial works in 2007/8 in the northern field to divert the river into its centre and create an area for river dipping and paddling.
Renovation, which was undertaken by BDP and East Architecture, included redesigned footpaths, river viewing platforms, an orchard and meadows. The river channel was modified to create a more naturalistic setting incorporating backwaters, wetlands and riverside tree planting – all designed to create more sustainable drainage and reduce flooding. This restoration also gave the park a new entrance, adventure playground and tennis courts.
Review by Kimberly Horton.