OPINION - London's best park is obviously Battersea Park

 (Alamy Stock Photo)
(Alamy Stock Photo)

This I’m not being funny but… how incredible are London’s parks? I am particularly proud of Battersea Park. As someone that was born just over the bridge in Pimlico, then grew up in Battersea, I’ve been hanging out in the area all my life, and it’s been a big part of it. It was my dog Tailor’s favourite spot and now it’s Reenie’s; and with the redevelopment of the power station and whole surrounding area, it’s nice to always look at the park as a constant you can rely on.

I mean, sure… there’s definitely a LOT of twat dog-walkers around. People who don’t know how to smile and drag their dogs away as yours tries to go say hello. The other day there was a woman who prioritised holding an iced coffee over taking care of the 10 dogs she was “walking”. There’s gotta be some kind of limit to how many dogs you can hold at any one time surely! Anyway, I’m not here to complain today. I’m simply in awe of what I think is one of London’s best.

Battersea Park isn’t quite a hidden gem, but there’s definitely hidden gems within it. The Rose Gardens are hidden away, a space of tranquility that feels miles from the hustle and bustle of London. They’re simply stunning, especially around this time of the year. The statue of the brown dog that we all appreciate has the most incredible story. It’s the symbol of the anti-vivisection movement in the early 1900s.

It isn’t quite a hidden gem but there are definitely hidden gems within it, like the tranquil Rose Gardens

There was an original statue erected more than 100 years ago that kept being vandalised by medical students and others who were for the torture of animals for medical experiments including dogs. Eventually it was removed. A new statue was commissioned in the Eighties that for a short period had the same fate as the original, but now it stands proud in Battersea Park for all to admire. A reminder of the millions of souls that lost their lives due to medical experimentation. I don’t know… I appreciate what it stands for and the movement has been hugely influential in the development of products free from animal cruelty that we all enjoy today.

Did you know that on full blast, the fountains mimic the shape of Crystal Palace, another iconic London landmark? Initially erected to house the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851, the structure was moved in 1854 to where we know it now. All of London was invested in that exhibition as thousands of people from around the world flocked to the capital to showcase or buy technology of the time. I love how the fountain pays tribute to that. Plus, down the road is another iconic landmark. The power station reopening has pumped new life into the area, you can easily plan a full day out without even leaving SW11.

Battersea Park has always been reinventing itself. Over the years we’ve had a dolphinarium and funfairs, you could walk on the top of trees on the tree walk at one point. Well these days you can do Go Ape — a more modern version of the tree walk. Dab hand at minigolf? We have that too.

It’s honestly the best place to take your loved one to and hang out. I don’t know what I would have done without it during lockdown! The outside gym was a life-saver. The entire park was! I feel like we all fell back in love with our local parks during that period. What a blessing to have so much green space in our great city.

I think it’s pretty clear how much I love Battersea Park and how important it is to me and my dog. Well, you’ll also be able to catch me, Reenie, my partner and his dog Raf at Goodwoof this May. I was honoured to be invited back for a second year running to this incredible event. Hosted by the Duke of Richmond each year, this celebration of our relationship with our dogs is uniquely entertaining with so many activities lined up. I’ll be playing a couple of special sets on the Saturday all to help raise money for Jai Dog Rescue and the wonderful work they do with rescues in Thailand. Check it out. See you next Wednesday.

Track of the week: Love You Til Tomorrow — Riva Starr

Fat Tony is a DJ and bestselling author