Cascade to flow again


January 2018

The Rookery gardens at the top of Streatham Common will receive a National Lottery grant of £84,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to restore the cascade water feature and rockery gardens to their former glory. People from the local community will be central in designing, planting and celebrating the garden.

The cascade and accompanying rockery were originally installed in around 1912 as part of the newly created Rookery public gardens. The Cascade stopped working a few years ago, and the gardens have been neglected following years of budget cuts. 

Streatham Common Cooperative will lead the National Lottery funded project in partnership with other local organisations, with work to the cascade starting in January 2018, volunteers designing and planting the new gardens in 2018, and finishing with celebratory community events in summer 2019.

History of the site

When installed in around 1912, the Cascade flowed down to Streatham Wells in the Rookery, surrounded by fashionable Edwardian planting of informal planting mixed with fashionable “exotics”. The Wells were opened after natural springs were discovered in 1659. Sparkling water from the springs had a slight odour of sulphur and was thought to cure many diseases. It was sold across London at sixpence per gallon.

The house where the Rookery Gardens stood was demolished in 1912 and the Rookery Garden was gifted to London County Council (LCC) after a fundraising effort led by local resident Stenton Covington in 1912.

The project

The project will restore the Cascade and replant the surrounding rock garden, influenced by the Edwardian exotic. This will ensure that the heritage is better managed, with much reduced environmental impact and improved biodiversity. The project will also improve public access to the site by refurbishing ‘’crazy’’ paving and replacing damaged protective fencing.

Community delivery is central to the aims of the project: A core group of volunteers will help to deliver it, and local community groups and schools will be involved in the planting. There will be a programme of educational outreach including tours and events to spread the knowledge and appreciation of the Rookery's heritage to a much wider group of local residents. The grant will fund the redevelopment of an old shed into an education centre.

Initial works to the cascade will be complete in spring 2018. Designs for the rock garden will be developed and delivered alongside a programme of community engagement, completing with a launch event in summer 2017.

The total project will cost £148,132, of which £84,600 will come from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The lead project partners are SCCoop and Lambeth Council, who will contribute most of the other funding. Other partners are Friends of Streatham Common, Streatham Common Community Garden and Streatham Society.