London - Cremorne Gardens

Kings Road : SW10 0EW London - Cremorne Gardens : Map credit National Library of Scotland London - Cremorne Gardens : Image credit Wiki Commons
Cremorne Gardens was the home of Viscount Cremorne, who sold it to Baron de Berenger (real name Charles Random) in 1831. Random was a convicted fraudster, but he started to build attractions on the 12 acre site, which was further developed by James Ellis from 1845. Cremorne Gardens became a very popular pleasure garden with entertainment, dancing, restaurants and balloon ascents. The gardens were well placed between the river Thames and Kings Road and it attracted the most fashionable people of Chelsea.

The proprietor of the gardens in the 1870's was John Baum and he took a lease for the gardens for £3,000 per annum and spent around £10,000 over the years on the premises. Cremorne Gardens were losing their respectability, but Baum was still granted a music and dancing license and around 175,000 people were visiting the gardens annually in 1870.

John Baum invited members of Kensington Club to demonstrate their capabilities by riding the track around the green on August 15th 1874. The Echo advertised the event as "The Grand Bicycle Match between the Gentlemen who contended in the great race from Bath to London." The main event was a five miles handicap race, won by Mr Pearce off 40 yards.

Mr Baum promoted more bicycle racing at the gardens, on October 10th 1874, he set up a fifty miles match between David Stanton and A Markham, a pedestrian who received 15 minutes start. The Winner received a cup valued at £25 and a money prize if the winner was within 3½ hours. Stanton soon overhauled Markham and won easily in a time of 3h 13m 30s. The track around the green was reported as needing 270 laps for the 50 miles.

By 1874, the gardens had a dubious reputation and its neighbours were petitioning to have it closed down. Their music and dancing license was withdrawn in 1871. At the Middlesex Sessions in 1874 their licence application was opposed, and a witness stated that they observed at the recent bicycle race there was a crowd of 800 to 900 present and "about 50 women there he knew to be prostitutes." In spite of this, John Baum was given back his license.

At the 1874 Cremorne Christmas fete, bicycle races were advertised and a bicycle race on July 24th 1875 was advertised in the Chelsea News. There seemed to be no further bicycle racing at the gardens,

John Baum filed for bankruptcy in September 1876 with debts of £20,000 and a receiver was appointed. The gardens continued to operate and the music and dancing license was renewed. In October 1877, the tenancy agreement for the gardens expired and Mr Baum owed £4,000 in rent, the rates were in arrears and the gas was cut off. Cremorne Gardens closed in 1877.

In May 1878, John Baum pursued a libel action against Alfred Brandon, who wanted Cremorne Gardens to close. Baum won his case but was awarded a farthing damages, with each side paying their own costs. This ruined Baum. After the gardens closed, the site was cleared and the contents were sold on April 8, 1878. The site was developed for housing, in the present day area around Lots Road and Chelsea Creek.


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Photos : Wiki Commons
Maps    : National Library of Scotland