Profile of activist, Bernie Spain, our gardens namesake

Bernie Spain Gardens

Roots in campaigning

Throughout her lifetime Bernie challenged inequality. A psychologist, she enhanced the quality of life for children born with disability. She was a voice for patients and the public and campaigned successfully for a community hospital in Lambeth.

Coin Street Action Group

Bernie lived in Waterloo, which was run down with new commercial developments bringing no investment to the community. In 1977, plans for an office development, referred to by locals as a ‘Berlin Wall’ of faceless commercial buildings, would cut off the river, making it inaccessible.

Bernie mobilised a group to oppose the plans. The Action Group campaigned for 7 years for their alternative vision of affordable housing, a riverside park, shops and cultural facilities for the area. In 1984 they won and bought the entire 13 acre site.

Bernie Spain the campaigner next to the gardens enjoyed by many in summer


Bernie died in 1984 so didn’t witness the changes to her beloved area.

This profile was based on one by Kate Jefford in the Culture Trip. Read the full profile of Bernie at the Culture Trip.