Pimlico Gardens


Heritage Category:
Park and Garden
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Pimlico Gardens all in Pimlico London SW1V (part of Westminster) Grid ref: TQ296779 (0.6 hectares)


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Pimlico Gardens all in Pimlico London SW1V (part of Westminster) Grid ref: TQ296779 (0.6 hectares)

Greater London Authority
City of Westminster (London Borough)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Pimlico Gardens, Pimlico, a former early C19 River Thames boarding point which was integrated into Thomas Cubitt's St George's Square Garden around 1844, renamed Pimlico Gardens around 1874, and redesigned as a public garden around 1915.

Reasons for Designation

Pimlico Gardens, a former early C19 River Thames boarding point which was integrated into Thomas Cubitt's St George's Square Garden around 1844, renamed Pimlico Gardens around 1874, and redesigned as a public garden around 1915, is registered at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

Design interest:

*   as a good example of an Edwardian public garden, designed to provide an attractive green space with good quality structures and sculpture, incorporating mature plane trees and emphasising a vista to the River Thames.   Survival:

*   although there has been some change, the structures and planting survive very well.   Group value:

*   with St George's Square Garden, of which it formed the original southern extent, the listed buildings alongside St George's Square and the listed 1836 sculpture of William Huskisson, which is a key part of the C20 garden design.


Much of the Pimlico area was used for market gardening from the early C17 and was known as the Neat House gardens after the nearby sub-manor of Neat. Owned by the Grosvenor family from 1677 it remained in use for market gardening until the 1820s when Thomas Cubitt (1788-1855) leased the land for development. His patron was Robert Grosvenor, later first Marquess of Westminster, whose major building initiative of Grosvenor Estate in Belgravia and Pimlico had a profound effect on the future development of London.   The development of Pimlico was due to Cubitt, who, following his successful developments in Belgravia, and together with three other major landowners, put together a very large estate which he called South Belgravia but which was nicknamed ‘Mr Cubitt's District’ and later became known as Pimlico.   Cubitt was one of the most respected and influential builders in London in the first half of the C19. He was approached by Prince Albert to design Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight, a scheme on which Cubitt collaborated with the prince. He not only built the mansion but also the considerable Italianate gardens and terraces which surround it, and he was given the government contract to build the extensions to Buckingham Palace. He also restored the grounds at his house Denbies near Dorking (Surrey) where Prince Albert visited him to plant a symbolic tree and Cubitt was instrumental in persuading Prince Albert to become patron of the Great Exhibition of 1851.   Cubitt was an astute and enterprising builder who was attuned to the aesthetic and practical benefits of inserting garden squares into new developments, which he often created, before the houses were built. He took a great interest in the layout and the planted character of squares and he also supplied gardens with trees and shrubs from his own nursery. He built three squares within the new district of Pimlico; Eccleston from March 1828 (List entry 1000802, Grade II), Warwick in 1842 (List entry 1000848, Grade II) and St George’s Square in 1844.   Unusually, St George's Square Garden extended down to the River Thames where the residents could board boats and steamers. It was laid out in 1839 as two parallel streets running north-south but by 1843 had been developed into a formal square lined on two long sides and two sides of an angle in the north. Residents did not move into the adjoining houses until 1854.   Around 1874, the section south of Grovesnor Road was transferred to local authority ownership, becoming Pimlico Gardens. Based on the Ordnance Survey (OS) map of 1876, the gardens appear to have had a single entrance (opposite the pier) and to have been informally laid out without paths and with shrubbery beds to the east and west boundaries. A drinking fountain is also shown at the western end along with access to Pimlico Pier.   The 1916 OS map shows the newly built gardener's hut and the gardens laid out to a more formal arrangement. Paths are evident around the boundary, as well as running north to south, conforming to the current (2020) layout. It is probable that the railings were also installed at this time and it is known that a commemorative statue of William Huskisson, sculpted by John Gibson and dated 1836 (List entry 1431794, listed at Grade II) was relocated to Pimlico Gardens around 1915. Huskisson served as President of the Board of Trade and is remembered as the first person to be killed in an accident involving a steam train.   In the later C20 a bronze statue of 1996 by Andrew Wallace entitled The Helmsman was installed to the western side of the garden and a new building (Westminster Boating Base) was constructed adjacent to the south-western corner of the garden and three, artificial climbing rocks have been added to the north-west corner. The C19 drinking fountain is disassembled (2020).


Pimlico Gardens, Pimlico, a former early C19 River Thames boarding point which was integrated into Thomas Cubitt's St George's Square Garden around 1844, renamed Pimlico Gardens around 1874, and redesigned as a public garden around 1915.

LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING: Pimlico Gardens is situated 50m to the south of St George's Square. The 0.6 hectares, broadly rectangular space is bounded by Grosvenor Road to the north and the River Thames to the south. To the east it abuts the end wall of Eagle Wharf and to the west, the Westminster Boating Base and its vehicular entrance.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES: the site is approached from the north where there are iron railings, decorated with pinacles and rosettes. There are two sets of paired, wrought-iron gates located towards the centre and eastern ends of the northern boundary. The southern boundary of the gardens is formed by the Thames river wall and has open vistas across the river to the south bank.

PRINCIPAL BUILDINGS: the garden contains a single-storey, three-bay, gardener's hut which is located towards the centre of the Thames River wall. It is built of brown-red brick over a blue brick base in English cross bond. It has a half-hipped, clay-tiled roof with gablets and is designed in the Arts and Crafts idiom. The north-facing, principal elevation has a segmental, multi-paned window each side of a central, late-C20 timber door. The window openings have brushed-brick segmental headers. The central door is surmounted by a gabled porch on curved console brackets. The southern, river-facing elevation has a single high-set opening within a small, central gable and is mostly obscured by the river wall. The side elevations are plain and without openings.

GARDENS: Pimlico Gardens are laid out in an arrangement that was introduced in around 1915. The gardens have a central, rectangular grassed area and tarmac-covered paths, which run south from the two entrances on the northern boundary. They extend to the river wall and dissect a continuous tarmac path which runs around the perimeter of the grassed area (excluding the western end). At the eastern end there is a curved bed of evergreen shrubbery that forms a backdrop to a statue of William Huskisson (sculpted by John Gibson and dated 1836). Inside the northern boundary railings there are strip beds of mixed evergreen shrubs and smaller trees. At the western end there is a separate area of grass which contains around five smaller, evergreen trees and a C20 bronze statue of 1996 by Andrew Wallace entitled The Helmsman. Around the boundary of the gardens there are around 17 plane trees, the size of which suggests that they were planted in the late C19 or early C20. The remains of a former drinking fountain are at the south-west corner.


Books and journals
Chancellor, E B, The History of the Squares of London, (1907), 100
Hobhouse, H, Thomas Cubitt Master Builder, (1971), 100
London Gardens Online, accessed 15 February 2020 from http://www.londongardensonline.org.uk/gardens-online-record.php?ID=WST080
Royal Commission Report on London Squares (1928)


This garden or other land is registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 within the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by Historic England for its special historic interest.

End of official listing

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