Clapham Common is one of the largest spaces of open parkland in London and is located between Balham and Battersea. This area of land has been classed as common land, which is land belonging to the people of the neighbouring parishes, since 1086 and is even listed in the Doomsday Book. This is not just barren grass land though; the Common contains three separate ponds, each of which were at one time gravel pits. Two of the ponds, Mount Pond and Eagle Pond are popular with anglers whilst the largest of the three ponds, Long Pond is used predominantly for model boating. The Common has sports facilities and playgrounds enough for all of the family no matter what their ages are, as well as its famous bandstands there are also cafes and areas rich in natural wildlife.
The bandstand here has a claim to fame all of its own, being both the largest and the oldest original bandstand in the whole of Greater London. It was the local residents that petitioned for a bandstand back in 1889 with the one that was built being a replica of the two bandstands that had pride of place in the Royal Horticultural Gardens which are located in South Kensington. Regular concerts were held every Sunday and then on Wednesday afternoons. It was restored in 2003 and returned to its former glory, it was rededicated and then reopened to the general public in the October of 2011.
All three of the ponds on the Common are maintained with the input of the Environment Agency which works closely with the pond users to ensure that they are improved and managed to meet all of the public’s requirements whilst staying as important to the local wildlife as ever.
- Long Pond: this is the pond that is popular with the Clapham Model Yacht Club with people coming here to sail their model boats. Motor powered boats can take to the water six days a week, but on a Sunday the waters of the pond are given over to sail boats, a nod to the way that the pond was used in years gone past. (Petrol fuelled boats are not allowed at any time). There is no fishing allowed on this pond at any time without written consent.
- Mount Pond: This is a pond for anglers as there have recently been some extra fishing platforms added around the pond. Unlike other ponds this one is topped up regularly with ground water from a purpose built borehole.
The Common is a great place to spend an afternoon with the family, there is more than enough space for a picnic and a kick about with the kids. There are also some beautiful woodlands to spend some time exploring and a walk around the ponds may allow the kids to get up close and personal with some of the local wildlife. The next time you are looking for somewhere to spend some time in the open air, take a trip to Clapham Common.