South Park opened in March 1904 on land that had previously been known first as Broom Farm and then Southfields Farm. It is the only farming land in Fulham that still remains as an open space. On its opening the park was described in the local newspaper as "Possessing over 20 acres, cricket, tennis, plus other open air games were offered and there was a bandstand, refreshment pavilion, ladies and gentleman's lavatories and a shelter."
During the First World War land in the park was given over to allotments and in the summer of 1915 it was one of the local training grounds for the three Fulham Brigades of the Royal Field Artillery raised by the Mayor of Fulham. For the Second World War the council's own labour force initially dug trenches in the park; subsequently full air-raid shelters were built - the entrance was located where the present cricket pavilion is situated - and some of the park was again converted to allotments.
After the war there were a series of ad hoc and generally unsympathetic alterations and in more recent years the park steadily deteriorated due to vandalism and inadequate maintenance. This was partly because Hammersmith & Fulham Council, like many other local authorities, abandoned its Parks Department and spread responsibility across several departments, with the result that there was no overall control or vision for the park. South Park became the Borough’s ‘Cinderella’ park.
Intensive campaigning by local residents eventually produced an improvement maintenance standards and eventually some physical improvements, chiefly the restoration of the perimeter wall and the main approach through the Clancarty Road double gates, the complete refurbishment of four of the tennis courts and a clearance of the area between the tennis courts. These are, however, only small steps towards the major restoration that the park requires.
Although there have been numerous alterations, the fundamental structure of the park has never changed and its open nature is one of its strong attractions. It is an important sports park and contains the only public cricket pitch in the borough, which is much used in the summer. The park is a major destination for dog owners and is extremely popular with families with young children, especially the play area. Many people move to this part of Fulham because of the park and its facilities. It is also an important resource for the schools which surround the park.
A fuller history of the park can be seen by clicking here [PDF - 80kb].