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Borough: Newham
Plaistow Park
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Plaistow Park  
The name Plaistow was first recorded in 1414, and is thought to mean 'play place' or a place where people gathered for play. By 1777, there was a settlement of 150 houses in Plaistow, and until the mid19th century the land was largely used for farming. Part of Plaistow Park is on the grounds of the former Essex House, which dated back to Tudor times. The old mansion was demolished in 1836 and the present Essex Lodge (c.1840) was built from some of the materials.

At the request of local residents, West Ham Council bought the land to create a public park, which was then laid out by the unemployed of the Borough to the designs of the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association's landscape gardener, providing gardens,and children's play areas. The park was one of a number of parks developed in the Borough in the 1890s and was originally known as Balaam Street Recreation Ground; it was opened on 7 June 1894 by Alderman J H Bethell, Mayor of West Ham, on the same day as Canning Town Recreation Ground.The main entrance was at the north-western corner on Balaam Street where the formal ornamental gardens were located, which remain largely intact today.

Since its original layout the park has been extended in the north on the former site of a school and houses, and also at the eastern end. This extension provides sports areas and informal grass and trees in the north, and in the east a fenced play area and Playbarn building which runs children's activities. New entrances have been created in the east onto Greengate Street and in the south-western corner. In 1999, much restoration was carried out and Balaam Street Recreation Ground was re-named Plaistow Park.

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