The Green Space the Capital Has Lost – and Some It Has Gained

Graham Coster

Compared to New York or Paris, London is still a remarkably green city – but it used to be much greener . . .

Until the late 19th century even what we now think of as inner London was still rural: Earl’s Court and Notting Hill were farms and market gardens. Wembley Park was still a park. St Pancras was still fields. But then the railways came, and the march of Victorian villas.
By the early twentieth century the pretty countryside of Middlesex was going under the new estates of Metroland in a London-wide housing boom halted only by the last war.
Post-war saw the march of the main roads and motorways, two whole villages lost to the establishment of Heathrow – but also the Green Belt restricting endless urban sprawl.
Through remarkable photographs and paintings London’s Lost Countryside re-creates the green London we’ve lost to become today’s teeming capital – but also how the belated realisation of the importance of green lungs for a city is seeing it gain new green space, from parks in Mile End and Camberwell to nature reserves in Sydenham and Barnes. It will make you see the capital in a new way.

Graham Coster’s other books include The Flying Boat That Fell to Earth, Snow Stopped Play (both Safe Haven), and A Thousand Miles from Nowhere. He lives in London.

Hackney Downs cropped.jpg
Hackney Downs cropped.jpg

Spring 2020              



160 x 160 mm


Full colour throughout

978 0 9932911 9 7

London/Natural History