The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 7 Municipal Parks in South London

Bicycles and cycling in Battersea Park

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The world of fashion has only attacked Battersea Park spasmodically. When it was new, and the subtropical garden a rarity, people drove out from Mayfair or Belgravia to see it. Again Battersea became the fashion when the cycling craze began. In the summer of 1895 it suddenly became "the thing" to bicycle to breakfast in Battersea Park, and ladies who had never before visited this South London Park flocked there in the early mornings. It was away from the traffic that disturbed the beginner in Hyde or St. James's Park, and perhaps the daring originality of cycling seemed to demand that conventions should further be violated; and nothing so commonplace as Hyde Park would satisfy the aspirations of the newly-emancipated lady cyclists. What would their ancestors who had paced the Mall in powder and crinolines, have said to the short-skirted, energetic young or even elderly cyclist? No doubt some of that language which shocks modern ears, used by the heroines in "Sir Charles Grandison," would have been found equal to the occasion. The great cycling rage is over, and Battersea is again deserted by fair beings, who now prefer to fly further afield in motors, but the Park is just as crowded by those for whose benefit it was really made-the ever-growing population of London south of the river.