The Park consists of a large open area consisting of amenity
grassland, semi-improved neutral grassland, scrub, scattered trees
and woodland. There is an adventure playground with an
adjoining One o' Clock club on the west side of the park and a
smaller toddlers playground located on the east side.
Little Wormwood Scrubs is a Site of Nature Conservation
Importance. The large area of semi-improved neutral grassland has a
good range of grasses which supports a diverse number of
invertebrates such as grasshoppers, butterflies and ants. The
scrubland, consisting of young bramble, hawthorn and the
semi-mature woodland, creates a habitat mosaic that provides an
abundance of nesting and feeding areas for birds and mammals.
Little Wormwood Scrubs has been a public park since 1886.
The land originally part of the Bishops of London lands and was
acquired by the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1886. The land is
currently held in trust by the London Borough of Hammersmith and
Fulham but is managed under a 20-year lease by the Royal Borough of
Kensington and Chelsea.
In November 2008 the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, launched an
initiative to give grants of up to £400,000 to ten parks across
London. The grants were awarded based on a public vote and Little
Wormwood Scrubs was one of the ten winning parks. This award, along
with funding already allocated by the Council and additional Play
Pathfinder Initiative funding for a new playground, meant that
further improvements could be made.
The Scrubs was first recorded in 1189, when it
is referred to as ‘Wormholt’ and the land is being cleared of
natural undergrowth for agricultural purposes.
Little Wormwood Scrubs was once part of the
ancient forest of Middlesex standing on 38 million-year-old,
agriculturally inhospitable London marl. For a long time it was
considered “waste” ground of the Manor of Fulham, used for
“depasturing cattle and swine of copyhold tenants”.
The ancient track of Turvens Lane passed along
the east side of the Scrubs going north to the Harrow Road. In
1844, following the road, an embankment was built for the Bristol,
Birmingham and Thames Junction railway. Later known as the West
London Railway, it dissected Wormwood Scrubs and brought Little
Wormwood Scrubs into existence.
In 1840, gun maker Charles Lancaster leased a
strip of land as a rifle range; this can be seen on the 1865
Counters Creek, one of London’s lost rivers, is
central to the story of Little Wormwood Scrubs. It rose to the
north in Kensal Green Cemetery and emptied into the Thames at
Chelsea Creek. It marked the parish boundary between Kensington and
Hammersmith and formed the basis for the ornamental ponds.
After a petition on behalf of the residents of
North Kensington in 1892, plans were made to transform Little
Wormwood Scrubs into a park.
At the start of the 20th Century,
plans to turn Little Wormwood Scrubs into a park were beginning to
materialise. Counters Creek, the river that passed through the
site, had been excavated and improved, new fencing had been erected
and a path was created around the park.
Once the initial improvements had been carried
out shrubbery was planted along the north perimeter to screen the
adjoining Great Western Rail depot, and in 1904 London County
Council, in order to encourage live music in its open spaces,
authorised the construction of a bandstand in Little Wormwood
Scrubs. The bandstand was positioned in the centre of the park,
circled by trees, and was made of oak with window panes in sliding
sashes. In 1919, due to public demand, public toilets were
constructed in the north west corner.
It is unclear exactly when the ponds and weirs
were removed. The 1935 Ordnance Survey map shows them intact but
the 1955 Ordnance Survey map shows the shape of the park, with
children’s playground and toilets, and shelters but no ponds.
In 1971 the London Borough of Hammersmith and
Fulham took over the management of Little Wormwood Scrubs. In 1977
the play area, which had been situated in the north west corner,
was moved to the south east corner and a “One O Clock Club” was
built alongside changing rooms and storage. These constitute
the buildings there now.