Paddington and Bayswater

 

Paddington is a great place to spend or begin your day in London.  The access to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens makes the neighbourhood a great destination for families travelling in from near and far.  If you are here mid-week and the weather doesn’t cooperate, there are lots of playgroups and library sessions you can pop into.  Ideally, arrive in the morning, in time to go to a 10am play group, and maybe squeeze in a play at the Buck Hill Playground after, have lunch and spend the lunch time nap in the park, pick up odds and end at Whiteley’s shopping mall or even spend the afternoon in another neighbourhood.

italian fountains and pump houseItalian Fountains Hyde Park

 Weekly Rota of Baby and Toddler Groups in Paddington: Italian Fountains Hyde Park

 

(please ring ahead to confirm) 

Monday


Russian Speaking Playgroup, St. John’s Hyde Park, Mondays 10-noon.  £1

Tuesday

 St. John’s Church Playgroup 10 – 11:30 £1

Paddington Toy Library , Westbourn Park Family Centre, 10 – noon, (o – 4 yrs) £15 to join, then £1 per  week plus £.50 for borrowed toys

Wednesday-

Creative Session, Westbourne Park Family Centre  10-noon, (0 – 4 yrs), £15 to join, then £1 per week plus

 

Paddington Library Rhyme and Story Time, 10:30 – 11 free

 

 

Thursday

Aquababies, Parent and Baby Fitness Class

St. John’s Church Playgroup 10 – 11:30 £1

Little Acorns Parent and Toddler Group 10 – noon £                                                         

 

Friday-

Baby Swim, Porchester Centre £4.85 or £1.75  with ResCard Discount

 Paddington Toy Library , Westbourn Park Family Centre, 10 – noon, (o – 4 yrs) £15 to join, then £1 per  week plus £.50 for borrowed toys

 Little Acorns Parent and Toddler Group 10 – noon, (0 – 4yrs) Creative Session,  £1

 

 

Baby and Toddler Activities

 

St. John’s Parent and Toddler Group 10 – noon, Thursdays

St. John’s Church, Hyde Park Crescent, London W2 2QD

0207 262 1732

·         Great for a baby and a toddler, you have to be mindful that children do not run off into the altar area

·         Three steps up into the church, otherwise perfectly buggy-friendly

·         Small toilet in the church office available to playgroup

·         Kitchen facilities are basic for coffee and tea.

·         Tea, coffee, juice, biscuits and fruit served

·         Tube: Lancaster Gate and Paddington

·         Bus: 143, 94, 148, 390, 94, 46, 274, 436, 36, 46, 27, 7, 23, 15, 352, 205  

Website for St. John’s Playgroup

 

This is the best place to meet families in W2 and the basic focal point for the Under Threes community in Paddington.  The group was established over ten years ago and has been running every Thursday from 10am – noon for nearly three years.

Located in a lovely neighbourhood church, parents and carers meet and share ideas and experiences regarding childcare.  This is a cosmopolitan mix of parents and carers.  The people attending the playgroup so kind and friendly; they happily help out those new to caring for children or the area (and often both).

It’s a small group, with a few simple riding toys and an art table.  The group celebrates birthdays by singing and lighting a candle for children celebrating birthdays each week.  During the Christmas season, the playgroup puts on a Nativity play, makes Christingles, and also receives a visit from Father Christmas at the playgroup Christmas party. The assistant curate, the lovely Dr. Brutus Green, attends the playgroups and chats with the families, making the group really feel like a community.  Even better, he brings along his guitar for song time!!!

You can easily pull a buggy with a sleeping baby near you in this playgroup, but you do have to keep an eye on your toddlers and make sure they do not wander off into the altar area and set off the alarm!

This is also a great place to lean more about Hampden Gurney School as many parishioners who attend the playgroup, also attend the school.

Mickey’s Star Playgroup

58-61 St. Michael’s Street, W2 1YN

0207 262 5784

·         Indoor and outdoor space, great for two children to run and play without a lot of supervision

·         No steps, electric doors, extremely buggy friendly

·         Toilet

·         Catering facilities on site so that you are able to heat children’s food

·         Tea, coffee, biscuits served

·         Tube: Lancaster Gate and Paddington

·         Bus: 143, 94, 148, 390, 94, 46, 274, 436, 36, 46, 27, 7, 23, 15, 352, 205

This is a wonderful, brand-new facility, opened two years ago, located close to St. Mary’s hospital.  The centre just began running playgroups in the early part of 2008 and is still refining the schedule.  The staff looks to offer more playgroup dates in the coming months with creative and messy play sessions.

The entire facility is purpose-built for children.  The playgroups are held downstairs and it has an enclosed garden adjoining it.  As the downstairs also serves as a nursery, children are allowed to play with all kinds of high-quality puzzles and other nursery school manipulatives.  They are free to string beads, make designs on a peg-board, play with colourful geometric shapes, stack giant blocks or just use the usual playgroup accoutrements of the art table, books, toys, and playing on simple riding toys.  The best part about this playgroup is helping your little ones see what a school is like and helping them get excited about the idea.

This is a perfect place to go if you are looking after two children as either can safely wander off to play.  It is so safe: one can play independently outside and the other can inside.  This is a really good respite for anyone with two active children.

Post Natal Support Group, Tuesdays 11am-1:30pm

Westbourne Park Baptist Church, Porchester Road, London W2 5DX

0207 727 6019

·           There is a ramp to enter the building with a few steps up to the room where the support group meets.  Otherwise, you can leave your buggy downstairs with the playgroup. 

·         Tea and coffee served. 

·         Tube: Paddington and Royal Oak

·         Bus: 436, 36, 46, 27, 7, 23, 15, 352, 205, 18, 36, 7, 27 

 

http://www.westbourneparkfamilycentre.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3&Itemid=2

 

The Post Natal Support Group has been running for well over ten years and is a wonderful place to take your newborn to forge friendships with other new mums and gain invaluable advice about sleeping, teething, eating, weaning, etc.

 An amazing area midwife, Abena Boteg, established the group nearly ten years ago after her own experience of being a new mother without family in a big city.  The Post Natal Support Group is designed to help new mothers cope with the uncertainties of learning how to feed, wind and help the baby sleep better.  I used to arrive each week with a nervous list of questions and Abena helped me see that all was fine.

Each week is organised around topics that interest the group.  In the past, she has gotten A and E Paediatric nurses to discuss safety with new parents and held workshops on how to make toys.

It’s a warm, welcoming place to learn about your new child.

Acorns Playgroup Thursdays and Fridays, 10am – noon

Westbourne Park Baptist Church, Porchester Road, London W2 5DX

0207 727 6019

·         Safe place for two children to run around

·         No stairs, buggy park or keep the buggy in the room

·         Toilets

·         Changing area

·         Kitchen available to heat food

·         Tea, coffee and biscuits

·         Tube: Paddington and Royal Oak

·         Bus: 436, 36, 46, 27, 7, 23, 15, 352, 205, 18, 36, 23, 7, 27  

http://www.westbourneparkfamilycentre.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3&Itemid=2

After your child has reached 9 months, they graduate and move into the Acorns Playgroup that has a wonderful Toy Library affiliated with it.

The playgroup is held in a large, spacious room.  You are encouraged to park your buggy outside, under the awning where the group can keep an eye on it the whole time, or bring it inside.

The room is fairly self-contained, so it would be easy to bring two toddlers to the playgroup and let them have a run around without getting into too much trouble.

The playgroup is nicely organised with a large baby area filled with soft toys.  There is a table set up for puzzles and an area for imaginative play with kitchen and doctor toys and dollies.  There is a good collection of electronic learning toys and musical ones, too.  Also, there are riding toys and a space set aside to use them.

Acorns is an amazingly diverse group.  It is a good mixture of younger mothers, mothers and carers who speak languages other than English, older mothers with several children, and older mothers with their first child.  It’s not a group where everyone immediately feels compelled to open up and extend themselves, but it is a very well-run group where you can meet nice mothers and carers from the neighbourhood.

There is tea, coffee and biscuits available with small donation.

Toy Library Tuesdays and Wednesdays 10am–noon

Westbourne Park Baptist Church, Porchester Road, London W2 5DX

0207 727 6019

·         Safe place for two children to run around

·         No stairs, buggy park or keep the buggy in the room

·         Toilets

·         Changing area

·         Kitchen available to heat food

·         Tea, coffee and biscuits 

·         Tube: Paddington and Royal Oak

·         Bus: 436, 36, 46, 27, 7, 23, 15, 352, 205, 18, 36, 23, 7, 27

 

http://www.westbourneparkfamilycentre.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3&Itemid=2

 

This is another amazing resource for mothers with small flats.  The Paddington Toy Library, for a small fee, allows families to borrow toys large and small for a week or two.

The Toy Library is run as a toddler group, where you come for a play and to choose toys that you might like to borrow.  This is especially helpful with the larger toys like kitchen sets or large walking toys that you just don’t want to keep around the flat for a long time.  The play sessions are held in a spacious room with different areas for children to play – a baby area, a puzzle table, riding toys, etc.

There is an outside buggy park and room inside, too.  This is a good place to bring a sleeping baby as you can keep a close eye on it.

The fee to join is £15 for 12 months, and then £0.50 for each toy that you borrow.

      

Paddington Library Wednesdays 10:30am-11am

·         You have to be mindful of the main door and the stacks if you take two children 

·         No stairs

·         Toilets

·         Changing facilities

·         Tube: Paddington and Royal Oak

·         Bus: 436, 36, 46, 27, 7, 23, 15, 352, 205, 18, 36, 23, 7, 27 

http://www.westminster.gov.uk/libraries/findalibrary/paddington.cfm

 

This is a good neighbourhood resource.  The children’s portion of the library is a separate building from the main part of the Porchester Library.  There is a covered buggy park outside and if you ask the staff nicely, you may be able to bring your buggy inside the library.

It’s a large space and a nice refuge for a rainy day.  Children of all ages are welcome to come in and have a play.  The Paddington Library is used by everyone in the neighbourhood and has a wonderfully diverse crowd attending it.

The Story Time is very popular, if very basic – they basically read books and sing a few songs.  Some of the staff are more enthusiastic than others, but it’s a nice opportunity to have your children sit and listen to a story.

 

Porchester Centre Baby Swim Fridays, 11:30-noon

·         It’s a pool, not safe for two children on your own

·         A few steps to manage, but other than that, buggy-friendly

·         Toilets and changing facilities;

·         Tube: Paddington and Royal Oak

·         Bus: 436, 36, 46, 27, 7, 23, 15, 352, 205, 18, 36, 23, 7, 27 

http://www.westminster.gov.uk/leisureandculture/sports/porchester.cfm

The gorgeous Edwardian Porchester Baths, now Courtney’s Gym, in Paddington has a baby swim on Fridays from 11:30am – noon.  There are additional family swims on the weekends and in the afternoons, but they are for older kids, too.  Call ahead to make sure the session is on as there can be last-minute changes with school holidays or maintenance.

The facilities are buggy-friendly, with a large locker room to accommodate them.  There are two changing rooms that are small, but which will fit an infant and a toddler.  There is a group changing room that you can take your buggy into and close the door while you and your child change.  This is handy as it lowers the chances of a little one running off and falling down on the wet tiles.  Schools often use this room, but its worth a look to see if its empty.

The pool at its shallowest is 1 metre and its gets much deeper from there.  There are two ladders from which to climb into the pool.  The lifeguards are happy to help if you need assistance getting into the water.

The pool is not the warmest baby pool in London, but if your child does not mind cool water, they will enjoy the Porchester Baths.

See in points of interest, but the Porchester Spa is located in the Porchester Centre.

Playgrounds

 

Buck Hill Playground

buckhill playgroundLocated just by the Italian Fountains in Kensington Gardens, across from the Lancaster Gate tube station, Buck Hill is a simple, fenced-in playground that every resident and tourist takes their children to when in Paddington.  Just near the Lancaster Gate entrance is a public toilet and a snack stand.  The playground consists of a large climbing frame and slide, a large stand-alone slide, big kid and baby swings, a see-saw and other riding and climbing apparatus.

In the afternoons, local parents gather around 4pm each afternoon and chat while they return from the school run or socialise with their babies and toddlers.  As the neighbourhood is so inundated with tourists, locals may be a little bit reluctant to open up until you explain that you have just moved to the area.

The great fun at Buck Hill is the proximity to the open spaces of Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and the Italian Fountains, the Peter Pan statue and the Serpentine.  Toddlers just love running from the top of Buck Hill down towards the fountains.  If you bring bread you can walk to the Serpentine and feed them.

Porchester Square Gardens Playground

This small public square is located just behind Bishop’s Bridge Road on Porchester Square.

This is a tiny playground consisting of two swings and some climbing frames, but it is perfect when you need a quick play without the production of going all the way to Hyde Park.

This playground is frequented mostly by local residents, and a good place to meet local families.

The playground is close to the Porchester Centre and the Paddington Children’s Library.  Also nearby is the Whiteley’s shopping mall.

Just across the street from the playground is the library where you could use a public toilet.  Near Queensway is a public toilet, but you have to descend a flight of stairs to reach it.  There is a pay toilet on Bishops Bridge Road, near the bus stop.

Hallfield Estate Playground

This is a handy playground, close to Queensway, just off Bishops Bridge Road. This is another local playground that tourists do not frequent.  It’s set in the middle of looming tower blocks and lacks the charm that the other playgrounds have.

The closest toilets are the pay ones on Bishops Bridge Road, near Queensway.

  

Points of Interest

 

Bathurst Mews, Hyde Park Stables bathurst mens

Just on the other side of the Lancaster Gate Hotel, off Clifton Street, are the Hyde Park Stables.  This is a great place to wander over to from Buck Hill Playground or on the way from the Paddington Station or St. John’s playgroup.  The mews has several stables where children can politely look into and catch a glimpse of a horse eating or resting.

Next door is the Bathhurst Deli, where the friendly, knowledgeable staff can give you great wine recommendations while you drink a latte and enjoy a croissant or sandwich. Additionally, you can go to the Victoria Pub for a wonderful lunch served by the Chris and Helen’s friendly staff (our favourite pub in London).

Kensington Gardens 

 

Kensington Gardens is one of Paddington’s greatest treasures.  The wide-open spaces, mature trees, and tall grasses make Hyde park a magical place to enjoy with your children.  The gorgeous statues and views of Kensington Palace make the park just an amazing place to explore.

 

 

Italian Fountains

Just across from the Lancaster Gate Station, in Hyde Park, are the Italian Fountains.  This is a beautiful place to park the buggy and relax to the delightful splashing of the fountains.  Unfortunately, due to the extremely low sides to the fountains, children can easily fall in, making it not such a good place to take two toddlers.

Peter Pan Statue-

Just down the path from the fountains is the famous Peter Pan Statue commissioned by the author and playwright J.M. Barrie (1860 – 1937), who secretly erected the statue on the 1st of May, 1912 to commemorate and promote his enormously successful character, Peter Pan.  Barrie placed an announcement in The Times that morning:

There is a surprise in store for the children who go to Kensington Gardens to feed the ducks in the Serpentine this morning. Down by the little bay on the south-western side of the tail of the Serpentine they peter pan statuewill find a May-day gift by Mr J.M. Barrie, a figure of Peter Pan blowing his pipe on the stump of a tree, with fairies and mice and squirrels all around. It is the work of Sir George Frampton, and the bronze figure of the boy who would never grow up is delightfully conceived.”

The statue is very endearing to take small children to.  Hidden amongst the rocks and boulders that Peter stands on are fairies, bunnies, squirrel and mice.  Watching a little ones discover these surprises is a true delight.

Across from the statue is a gated side to the Long Water where you may feed the water fowl.  There is a large sign showing pictures and names of the various breeds that inhabit the waters of the Serpentine.

Porchester Spa

http://www.westminster.gov.uk/leisureandculture/sports/porchesterspa.cfm

Located in the Porchester Centre is the Porchester Spa.  This is an Art-Deco Turkish bath that is unlike any other spa in London or anywhere.  There are three Turkish hot rooms, two steam rooms, a cold plunge pool and a sauna.  The relaxation area is an absolutely beautiful place to be – you are surrounded by Edwardian gracefulness and real British charm.  Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sunday mornings from 10 – 4 pm are ladies days; Sunday after 4 pm being couples days; and men only for Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.  The cost is £20.35 for non-member, or £11.55 is you have your rescard.  Couples cost £28.35 or £23.00 with the Rescard.

Whiteley’s Mall

http://www.whiteleys.com/

A remodelled late Victorian high end department store, mentioned in George Bernard Shaw’s Play Pygmalian as the place to which Eliza is sent to be “attired” (Higgens: “Take all her clothes off and burn them. Ring up Whiteley or somebody for new ones. Wrap her up in brown paper till they come), it is now a shopping mall filled with mid-range stores like Books Etc, H and M (lots of maternity and baby clothes), Zara and Children’s Zara, Accessorize, Gap and lots more.  Also, there is a discount centre for Kew – best place for £10 clothing.  There is a Gymboree located in the mall, for a one-time fee of £50 you can use the facility during the “open sessions”, usually around lunch time.

Paddington Station

Little boys love coming to into Paddington Station to watch the trains.  We took my daughter’s friend Jack to the station and he literally sat transfixed, watching them come and go.  My daughter tried her best to join in; I don’t think either of us could fully appreciate what Jack did.

When darkness falls at 4 pm and the playground is no longer open, we used to have our play in the Paddington Station.  In addition to the trains, there is the statue of Paddington Bear, there are stairs to climb, books to look at, the flower stand to visit, get a coffee.  You can look at the shoes in Monsoon, buy groceries at Sainsbury’s or Marks and Spencer and when that is all finished, you can go play in the Hilton Hotel lobby.

There are changing facilities on the ground floor, and a left luggage area where you might look for Paddington Bear.

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