Since it first opened in 1845, the East End’s biggest public green space has been the subject of a tumultuous and intriguing history. As the neighbourhood around it housed more and more of the city’s working class, it became a political hub: at the turn of the century, revolutions were planned in this park. During the second world war, the area was turned into an anti-aircraft artillery base and, in later year, a prisoner of war camp.
These days, Victoria Park continues to welcome the differently-minded. Bordered by the Regent Canal and just a few steps away from the East End’s new creative aorta, Mare Street, it is where Hackney and Bethnal Green’s bohemian residents meet on sunny afternoons.
The park offers tennis courts, a cricket training ground and, of course, lots of green grass for pick-up football matches. On Sundays, old men turn into small boys again at the weekly race of the Victoria Model Steam Boat Club (founded in 1904)—the oldest of its kind in London. Regatta season starts on Easter Sunday and continues until the autumn.