Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Gardens and Spas - Willesden People's Garden

CO-OPERATIVE RECREATION. - An interesting horticultural show of considerable merit, held on Saturday at Willesden, was the means of drawing attention to a novel application of the co-operative and working men's club principles to outdoor recreation. The show was held in the People's Garden, Old Oak-common, near Willesden Junction, a property of about 50 acres in extent, held by a working man's company established under the auspices of Lord Lyttelton, Sir Harcourt Johnstone, M.P. Mr. T Hughes, M.P., Dr. W.B. Carpenter, Mr. W.B. Hodgson, and other gentlemen interested in the progress of the artisan classes. It will serve to point out the great ends which may be attained by small means to mention that the shares, which are 20s. each, are paid for at the rate of 21d. a month, and the shareholders of one share each have free admission to the gardens and to the amusements. The rules make it imperative that no one shall be a shareholder or a member without introduction, inquiry, and election, and members are held responsible for the conduct of the friends they admit. The club principle is introduced in the supply of refreshments, and every member has to purchase a check before he is able to obtain even unintoxicating refreshment. The Inland Revenue Department and the late Chancellor of the Exchequer were for some time in correspondence with the company regarding its rules, and now a framed and glazed letter from the Inland Revenue shows that the Department fully recognizes the right of the working classes to combine in these enterprises where they are properly conducted, without the necessity of taking a licence for refreshment. The gardens are well laid out, not in the perfection of the Crystal Palace, which is seen from the gardens across the Valley of the Thames, a prominent feature on the southern hills, but still in excellent taste and most creditable considering the short time the company has been at work. The old-fashioned bowling-green and quoit grounds have been established, together with croquet lawns, a gymnastic ground, cricket fields, a dancing platform, and a small theatre; the latter, it should be mentioned, being partly the work of shareholders in "the line" - that is to say, members engaged in theatres at night, who have walked to the grounds in spare time and given their labour for the general good. 

Times, August 18, 1873

see also The Penny Illustrated Paper, 1875 - click here

see also Charles Maurice Davies in Mystic London - click here