Clock to turn back in Silvertown to create modern pleasure gardens

They were once a place for lovers and clandestine flirting, while artists, musicians and performers staged shows for the walking visitors.

They were the pleasure gardens of old with their twinkling lights and otherworldly atmosphere, and 200 years ago they were central to London social life.

Long before the festivals of today, they were places where people converged to meet.

From Keats and Hogarth to Mozart and Handel, pleasure gardens were the go-to places for cutting-edge culture and subversive creativity.

Now there are moves to recreate this festival atmosphere of yesteryear with a creative playground for both young and old in...Silvertown.

The plan is turn derelict land into a 60,000 square metre site with capacity for 40,000 people as an entertainment destination for Londoners and tourists alike to be opened next summer.

It will boast, among other features, landscaped walkways and sculpture gardens, a wilderness meadow and beach, water attractions including floating cinema and illuminated fountains, a outdoor live events space, multi-arts dome venue, night gallery and dance arena, floating cocktail lounge and eateries.

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Promoters the London Pleasure Gardens (LPG) hope it will become home to the capital’s creative talent and showcase British creators to the world.

Winner of the Mayor of London and Newham Council’s Meanwhile London competition, LPG’s aims are to help kick-start the regeneration of the Royal Docks; creating jobs and a community hub for the surrounding boroughs; to celebrate the diversity of high art and cutting- edge culture that East London is famous for, and to support the cultural legacy of London 2012 through the provision of a multi-functional entertainment family destination.

The proposed festival site is opposite ExCeL. In fact the history of the area shows that the Royal Docks itself had its own pleasure gardens between 1851 and 1884.

Clive Dutton, executive director for regeneration, planning and property at Newham Council, described the concept as brilliant, bringing “extraordinary creativity and vitality” to the Royal Docks.

He continued: “It is a significant stride towards making this part of London an international destination, both in the Olympic year and beyond.”

The winning development team has delivered major arts projects including the 1948 Hoxton Street Party, Liverpool Biennale and the Shangri-La at Glastonbury.

Deborah Armstrong, creative director at LPG, commented: “Our aim is to help London to deliver on the promise to use the Olympics as a chance to showcase British cultural, as well as sporting, talent on a global platform.”

She added: “We will champion local talent and celebrate the incredible melting pot of creativity that is alive and kicking in London every day.”