Michael Rowan, Head of Tower Hamlets Parks and formerly Director of Mile End Park, has recently left Tower Hamlets Council after nine years. Although many millions were spent redeveloping our park as part of the UK’s Millennium celebrations, to my mind it was Michael’s appointment as Director that had the biggest impact. There isn’t an inch of the park that he hasn’t passed his eye over. What could so easily have been a sliver of mown grass bounded by the canal on one side and Burdett/Grove roads on the other; is instead a space littered with a rich variety of features along its entire length.
One of the key roles of the Friends of Mile End Park& is to “keep an eye” on developments in the Park. Under Michael’s helm we have had it easy and this has invariably consisted of us saying “excellent” or “great”. From the outdoor theatre and wardrobe to Narnia in the children’s park at the southern end; the BMX track and renown skateboard park for teenagers in the centre of the park; to the vegetable-growing raised beds just north of Grove road: Michael has given us all something to enjoy whatever our age. Walking past the outdoor gym by Bow Wharf today I saw two dogs lashed to the bright Olympic-pink fence waiting impatiently for their “masters” to finish pumping iron and resume exercising them instead. A few minutes later I passed some amateur photographers on all fours trying to capture the fine details of some flower or perhaps Mermessus trilobatus the latest species of spider to call Mile End Park its’ home.
Whatever use you make of the Park I’m sure you’ll join me in thanking Michael for all that he has done to help make the Park what it is today and wishing him every success in the future.