Water to flow again at Battersea Park

February 18, 2020

Yet another project which involves us working on a site of historical importance has come our way at Aworth Survey Consultants and this one is quite unusual. Wandsworth Borough Council asked us to survey a structure called The Cascade - a Victorian waterfall set over a large rockery – which can be found in Battersea Park, London. This important and historic landscape feature has deteriorated over time and can no longer be used.

In Victorian times, rock gardens and ornamental rockwork featuring alpine planting were popular and using artificial Pulhamite stone it was possible to create cascades, rocky streams and even bridges. The Cascade in Battersea Park was created using this patented anthropic rock material, which was invented by James Pulham (1820 to 1898). It was so realistic that it fooled some geologists of the time. While the recipe went to the grave with Pulham, it is thought to be a blend of sand, Portland cement and clinker sculpted over a core of rubble and crushed bricks. 

In the book ‘Historic London: An Explorer’s Companion’ by Stephen Inwood (published in 2008) it says: “It is pleasant to walk round the lake, one of the original features of the Victorian park. Following the lake anticlockwise from the East Carriage Drive, you will come to the Victorian cascade which is more likely to be flowing at the weekend. The Pump House, on the northern edge of the lake, was built in 1861 to house the steam engine that raised water for the cascades and the lake.”

The park is currently undergoing some regeneration and The Cascade is one of the next parts to be revitalised by Allen Scott Landscape Architecture based in Tunbridge Wells. Before work goes ahead, the team wanted a comprehensive survey of the structure as it currently stands. Other parts of the park which have recently had a new lease of life include the Victorian seating shelters, while The Promontory, a riverside garden, which was an unused part of the park has been created, along with a children’s playground.

Battersea Park covers 200 acres and was opened by Queen Victoria in March 1858 having been created out of fields and marshland to create a place of ‘healthy recreation’. It was designed by the Victorian engineer James Pennethorne and the planting overseen by adventurer John Gibson, who scoured the globe for exotic plants to display in the park’s famous sub-tropical garden.

Aworth is very pleased and proud to be part of the consultant team of specialists on this historical landscape project.

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