Cassiobury Park Gates
The original entrance to the park was through archways in a set of brick park gates build in 1800 by Humphrey Repton and James Wyatt as part of wider work on the estate for the fifth Earl of Essex, George Capel Coningsby. ¬†The attached building was marked on maps at the time as Watford Lodge.
The¬†Cassiobury¬†Park¬†gates were demolished in 1970 as part of the works widening Rickmansworth Road at the junction with Cassio Road. ¬†A letter in a back issue of Hertfordshire Countryside magazine reported that the gates were in fact taken down brick by brick and suggested that the gates may have¬†unofficially¬†been sold on. ¬†Sadly I do not have a copy of this letter or any¬†further¬†details.
The map below from the 1940s, taken from Maps-of-London.com (originally Collins Bartholomew), shows the approximate location of the page gates prior to their removal. ¬†You can see that at this time both Cassio Road and Cassiobury Drive join onto the single¬†carriageway¬†Rickmansworth Road at T-junctions.
Public opinion was strongly against the removal of the gates which were a popular local landmark and had featured on many postcards at the start of the 20th century. ¬†There are still occasional mentions of the loss of the gates in the Watford Observer newspaper today. Here are a couple of recent comments in the paper:
- “The first real outcry in Watford was caused by the demolition of the Cassiobury Park Gates in 1974 and we haven‚Äôt stop crying – or should that be moaning!”
- “… half a mile to the top entrance of Cassiobury Park, an outstanding feature being those gates, which are, sadly, no longer there.”
- “I no longer visit the park I still think it sacrilege that the beautiful gates were removed, completely unnecessarily”
There was a campaign to apply for¬†Millennium funding to construct a replica of the gates however obviously this has since passed. ¬†A request under the Freedom of Information act revealed that by 1998 there had been 2 lottery funding application and one¬†Heritage¬†Fund bid but all were¬†unsuccessful.
The centenary of the park in 2009 saw¬†further¬†action investigating reconstructing the gates with “get together some designs and costs and seek planning permission for the Cassiobury Park gates” appearing in the minutes of a Green Flag (park award) steering group meeting. ¬†A promise to look into the possible rebuilding of the gates appears in the manifesto of the Labour mayoral candidate.
The earliest illustration of the¬†picturesque¬†gates dates I was able to find dates back to 1902.
If you have any information about the history of the¬†park¬†that you are willing to share it would be much appreciated.