The Japanese Garden in Peckham Rye Park
The crunch moment in terms of open spaces and urban sprawl was probably the 1860s. Londoners, and the politicians who represented them, began to realise that green spaces were being lost at an alarming rate. Often the land was viewed by local inhabitants as common land. In 1866, an act of parliament enabled parishes to use income from the rates to buy and maintain common lands.
Close to where I live, there are two open spaces - Peckham Rye and Goose Green. Both of these were threatened in the 1860s when the lord of manor proposed to develop the land for housing. The new railway lines were spreading across south London at a rapid rate, driving up land values. Even the commons were considered ripe for development, unless protected by local government. With the new act in place, the Camberwell Vestry, the local authority at the time, was able to acquire both Peckham Rye and Goose Green, securing them as public open spaces.