Gladstone Park

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Gladstone Park
Walled garden, Gladstone Park

Gladstone Park is situated in the Dollis Hill area of northern Middlesex, covering about 86 acres.

Dollis Hill House was an early 19th-century farmhouse, located within the northern boundary of the park. A


Gladstone Park c.1900

When the Great Central Railway arrived towards the end of the 19th century, the sports grounds at Neasden were lost, and this motivated local public backing for the creation of a new park at Dollis Hill and tofor the then District Council to buy from the Finch family the part of their estate that lay south of Dollis Hill Lane, for £50,000. Considerable opposition from other parts of the district, largely driven by the editor of the Willesden Chronicle from his office in South Kilburn, and it was finally resolved after an enquiry by an inspector from the Local Government Board, and a group of local councils bought it, while the Ecclesiastical Commissioners made a £5,000 loan available on easy terms.

The contract to purchase the house, garden, and estate from "Robert Augustus Finch and others" was signed by the Council on 9 August 1899, and soon afterwards, notices to terminate existing tenancies (except that for the house and gardens) were sent out. Despite some reservations by local Conservatives, on 12 December 1899 it was formally agreed to name the park after William Ewart Gladstone, the old Prime Minister who had died the previous year, and who had spent many happy hours there. Purchase was completed early in 1900.

The Earl of Rosebery, recently twice Prime Minister, had promised to perform the opening ceremony on Saturday 25 May 1901, but was prevented from attending by the death of his mother. In his absence, the park was declared open by the Earl of Aberdeen.


The main planning was entrusted to Oliver Claude Robson, the District Council Surveyor who was to serve for 43 years, from 1875 to 1918. It was decided to leave the northern part of new park in its "original and natural beauty", and devote the section south of the railway to sports.

A major event for Willesden was the provision of its first public swimming bath (now closed), which Robson designed in 1902. By 1908/9, Robson had added a bowling green and four tennis courts. Dollis Hill House was renovated at an estimated cost of £616 11s 6d, and the ground floor was let to a contractor for the sale of refreshments. The park constable occupied the rear portion of the house.

The following year the Surveyor converted the former fruit and vegetable garden attached to the house into an Old English garden, which was to become one of the park's star attractions. Robson probably erected a sundial, provided by Cricklewood & District Improvements Association in 1907, at the centre of the garden.

Many other works by Robson were completed before he took retirement in 1918.

The park today

Dollis House as seen from the gardens
Gladstone Park

Gladstone Park has ninety-seven acres of parkland as well as the twenty-seven acres of the William Gladstone open space on its eastern perimeter.

There is a formal garden, duck pond, varied terrain, woodland, hedgerows and open ground, all of which change with the seasons. On clear days it offers views from the top of the hill (213 feet above sea level) of London and the surrounding area, including Wembley Stadium, Parliament, the City, and across to the London Eye and the Shard on the Surrey bank of the Thames.

In 2016 the Council, police and local charities carried out several initiatives to deal with large numbers of people Romanian casual workers sleeping rough in the park.

The park is used by the local council as a venue for free sports and health and fitness programmes.


Outside links