Fortune Street Park is what is known in the park fraternity as a ‘pocket park’. It lies between Golden Lane and Whitecross Street.
Fortune Street Park was provided free of charge by the generosity of the Luftwaffe, who cleared the site in 1940-41. It was left as a bomb site after the War while other parts of the Whitecross Street area were rebuilt around it. Eventually, it was decided to create a local park.
The park was named after Fortune Street, which is immediately to the north of it. Fortune Street in turn takes its name from the Fortune Playhouse. The Fortune Playhouse was a theatre which stood between Whitecross Street and Fortune Street in Elizabethan England.
In 2002, Islington council carried out some much needed refurbishment works to Fortune Street Park. These works included providing new park benches and tables, creating a fenced-off play area with playground equipment for children, and generally landscaping the park. Local schoolchildren were allowed to create a mosaic on one of the walls. The garden shed was converted into a coffee kiosk which is occupied by Giddy Up Coffee.
There are several entrances into Fortune Street Park. The entrance from Whitecross Street is through Shrewsbury Court, a covered passageway which runs under a row of old buildings which survived the Second World War bombing. The path in the park which leads into Shrewsbury Court branches left to a separate entrance in Fortune Street. The other main entrance to Fortune Street Park is from Golden Lane. There is also an entrance from the park into Prior Western school. Local volunteers lock all the gates of Fortune Street Park every evening at dusk and reopen them every morning.
It’s a very charming little park, not at all fussy. At the grassy end of Fortune Street Park (near Golden Lane) you will see yoga exponents and exercisers with the weirdest of equipment, mainly on the little South section. Children play football on the larger grassed area to the north. At the more asphalt-covered Whitecross Street end of the park, behind Giddy Up Café, there are plenty of benches where local people from the blocks of flats opposite come to meet and chat.
If I am going anywhere where my route could conceivably take in Fortune Street Park, I always make the detour. It just improves my day.