Gandhi Chaplin Memorial Garden

26 January 2016

Region: London

Several weeks ago now, looking for inspiration for the Breathing London project, I discovered “Pocket Parks” – part of the Mayor’s London’s Great Outdoors initiative.

Pocket Parks are described here as “small areas of inviting public space for all people to enjoy, providing relief from the hustle and bustle of the city”.  What better subjects for Breathing London photographers?

What you may not see initially from the website is the enormous diversity of the spaces which have been created!  From this park in East London commemorating the meeting between Mahatma Ghandi and Charlie Chaplin on 22nd September, 1931 to a park with a tropical theme in West Green Road, to sprucing up Vauxhall Walk, at the same time providing training opportunities for young people – and many, many more.  If you are interested, here are two U-tube videos telling you more about West Green Road and Vauxhall Walk Pocket Park

Personally I was utterly bowled over by the connections which Mahatma Gandhi made with the people of the East End of London and this new Pocket Park to commemorate his historical meeting with Chaplin; so much so that I made the trip to the East End to see the Gandhi Chaplin Memorial Garden, effectively a small patch of land between Becton Road and Newham Way. Currently a somewhat noisy place, no doubt when the trees are in leaf and have grown a little, it will be more tranquil.  There is supposedly a time capsule buried in the garden, which includes letters and artwork from local school children – to be reopened in the year 2065 – but the marker seems to have been removed. 

However, I enjoyed the mosaics of Charlie Chaplin’s portrait featuring his character from The Tramp, and that of Gandhi also.

I wonder if other Breathing London photographers would like to seek out their local Pocket Park and follow it through the seasons?

If you’d like to read more about the Gandhi Chaplin Memorial Garden – and indeed of Gandhi’s visits to the East End of London, here are two links that you may find interesting:  newhamstory.com and newham.gov.uk  

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