London Street Gardens
Description of chosen placeLondon Street lies adjacent to the Ormeau park, tucked in behind shops on the Ravenhill Road. In 1908, houses 2 to 18 were occupied by coopers, tailors and butchers, amongst others. Houses 2 to 18 persist until at least 1960 – possibly later – but today, London Street’s houses on the even side begin at number 20 with no sign of the preceding dwellings. At some point in recent history, these houses were knocked down and replaced by a sad and empty tarmac space peppered with bollards. The area is now a thriving monument to litter and emptiness, where it once consisted of bustling activity. What happened to the missing houses? Why are the bollards there? How can we honour that space?
What do you imagine the space could be?I imagine dog walkers coming from Ormeau Park, getting a fish supper from the local chippy, or a coffee from the cafe across the road and having a rest on seats made from reclaimed material. A hedge planted with native Irish hawthorn and buckthorn provides shelter from the elements. People settle down and watch the world go by – parents taking their kids to the park, teenagers skulking past and busy office workers walking to and from the city centre via the Ravenhill Road. A small raised bed is populated with a mix of native wildflowers. A local community group built it and painted it. If you focus, you can catch a glimpse of blue tits, great tits and chaffinches wittering in the rowan trees surrounding the plot. The cul-de-sac means no through traffic – no rat run – so the wee street is quieter than expected. There are a few randomly placed bollards but they are integrated so well into the design of the garden that it’s hardly noticeable. This beautiful pocket garden improves biodiversity and brings the community together. It aligns with the goals of Ormeau Parklet and Wildflower Alley. A plaque shows the people that used to live in the houses where you now stand: James Robinson, the cooper in number 16, and Walter Holly, the tailor in number 18, and the others.
Submitted byGeorgina Milne
February 19, 2023