THE RIVER BRENT is a major tributary of London’s River Thames. It has two main sources: one, which feeds into Dollis Brook, is west of Barnet; the other, which feeds into Mutton Brook, is near East Finchley. As a child, Mutton Brook figured amongst the places where I used to play with my friends. It flows through Hampstead Garden Suburb (‘HGS’) where I lived during the first three decades of my life. In those far-off days, I had no idea that the then rather malodorous, winding Mutton Brook flowed into the Thames. Mutton and Dollis Brooks merge to become the Brent near Golders Green. The Brent flows through northwest and then west London to reach its junction with the Thames at Brenford, an interesting place, rich in history, described in my book “Beyond Marylebone and Mayfair: Exploring West London”.
On its way to the Thames, the Brent skirts another garden suburb, Brentham Garden Suburb (‘BGS’), which, like HGS, was an attempt to create a leafy residential Utopia. They were built at roughly the same time. The northern edge of BGS borders Pitshanger Park, through which the Brent winds its way towards the Thames. The name of the park derives from the Putelshanger or Pitshanger family, who occupied the area in the 13th century. The manor occupied the area between Hanger Hill and the Brent. Until 1908, when it was demolished, the manor house (and its antecedents), known as ‘Pitshanger farmhouse’, occupied a plot on the present Meadvale Road, which runs along the northern edge of BGS. This building was completely different to Pizhanger Manor near Ealing Broadway, which was built by John Soane (and is described in my book).
Pitshanger Park is laid out on what used to be part of the grounds of Pitshanger farmhouse. BGS was built on another part of that same estate. The park is adjacent to Ealing Golf Course. Both were already in existence by 1912. The Brent also runs through the golf course. While we were visiting the park, we watched two men leaning over the bank of the river, rather ineffectually attempting to recover a ball from the weeds growing beside the water.
The park consists mainly of spacious grassy meadows that are bordered to the north by dense bushes and trees lining the bank of the Brent. Amenities offered in the park include, tennis courts, outdoor exercising equipment, and an attractive children’s play area. Housed in a small building with fake half-timbering, there is a small café with a terrace on which there are tables and chairs. The ‘caf’ offers hot and cold drinks and a few snacks. Its staff are pleasant, and the washrooms were clean.
While Pitshanger Park cannot be classed as one of London’s more exceptional open spaces, it is a wonderful amenity for residents in the area, just as was (and still is), the public gardens in HGS through which Mutton Brook flows.