Last December, Walthamstow rejoiced that Lime Tree Walk was saved.

But now the property developers who seek to build on Walthamstow Town Square Gardens have submitted their second planning application to Waltham Forest Council.

It turns out that actually they still plan to remove the four lime trees that are closest to the town square.

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The planned development would leave only a sliver of open green space overshadowed by tower blocks. Image Credit: Capital and Regional

Lime Tree Walk is one of the few vestiges that survive of Selborne Park, also known as Selborne Road Recreation Ground or simply ‘The Rec’.

The right of public access to the land originates from local residents’ rights of pasture on common land because the site on Selborne Road came into public ownership in 1869, as compensation for the loss of common land to the Chingford railway line.

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Selborne Park in 1920, looking North-East: Unknown photo credit.

Under a scheme to provide work for the unemployed, Selborne Park’s layout was improved in 1906.

Situated adjacent to the ornate architecture of the High Street Swimming Pool and Slipper Baths (which opened in 1900) and the Central Library (built 1907 to 09) next door, Selborne Park was part of a grand Edwardian municipal precinct.

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1940s map of Selborne Park. Credit: Eb Vawda

Either side of Lime Tree Walk were two very different sides of the park. On the eastern side, there was an expanse of patchy grass and a popular children's playground.

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Children sitting on a rocking horse at Selborne ‘Rec’ in the early 1930s. Photo: Timothy Foster

On the western, manicured side of the park, were flower beds, a bowling green and pavilion, a putting green, giant draughts and chess board and public toilets. In summer, the park would be full on Sundays with families having picnics.

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1950s - This giant draughts board was at the market end of the park. Photo Credit: Unknown

The Selborne Road rec also served as a political rallying ground, notably in 1905 when Pete Curran, a firebrand speaker and a socialist hero of the early Labour movement, addressed a public meeting there.

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Walthamstow Tank Day was held on March 9, 1918 in Selborne Park, to raise funds to build more of the newly invented weapons, to bring the war to a close. Photo Credit: Vestry House Museum.

In the late 1970s, glue sniffing punks were regulars at ‘The Rec.’ but in 1978, following a revival of the National Front and a spate of racist graffiti and violent racist attacks in the local area, a Carnival For Racial Harmony was held in Selborne Park.

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Poster designed by Roger Huddle. Photo Credit: Tony McMahon  

The end of Selborne Park came in the mid-1980s, with the encroachment of the bus station which was opened in April 1987, the development of Selborne Walk Shopping Centre (‘The Mall’), opened in October 1988 and the laying out of Walthamstow Town Square and Gardens at the same time.

Residents can give their views until Wednesday December 23, 2020 on the new planning application for Walthamstow Town Square and Gardens (reference 202491 and 202489 re: 45 Selbourne Road, London E17 7JR): Email: and Save Our Square E17 on social media: or