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McKENZIE, Alexander (1830-1893)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/B/227-130
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Full title: McKENZIE, Alexander (1830-1893)
Date(s): 1869-1879
Level of description: Collection
Extent: Two production units.
Name of creator(s): McKenzie | Alexander | 1830-1893 | landscape gardener and Superintendent of Epping Forest


Administrative/Biographical history:

Alexander McKenzie was born circa 1830 in Auldearn, Nairnshire, Scotland. He had 5 sons and a daughter, Helen, who looked after him on the death of his wife. He worked as a landscape gardener and land surveyor, moving to London in 1851 and working at the Royal Botanical Gardens and on land beloning to the King of Belgium.

In 1863 he was appointed superindendent of Alexandra Palace and Park, and then became the superindendent of open spaces owned by the Metropolitan Board of Works, giving him responsiblity for Finsbury Park, Southwark Park, Victoria Embankment, Albert Embankment, Hampstead Heath, Blackheath, Shepherd's Bush, Stepney Green, Hackney Commons and London Fields. He also took on private landscape design work in England, Ireland and Scotland, including work for the directors of the Metropolitan and City police orphanage, the board of management of the Middlesex County Asylum, Birmingham Town Council and the Lord Provost, magistrates and council of the City of Edinburgh.

From 1879 Alexander McKenzie was employed as Superintendent of Epping Forest. He remained in post until his death in April 1893 when he was succeeded as Superintendent by his son, Frank Fuller McKenzie.

In his time as Superintendent of Epping Forest, McKenzie worked hard to counteract the problems caused by the illegal enclosure of much of the forest prior to the Epping Forest Act of 1878. He instigated a policy of thinning out the densest parts of the forest which was widely criticised by newspapers of the time but which was generally supported by the Epping Forest Committee as being in the best interests of the health of the trees and undergrowth. McKenzie was exonerated after his death when, in 1894, a panel of external experts called in to give their opinion on the thinning of Epping Forest concluded that, in general, the forest had been managed "judiciously and well".

McKenzie was a member of the Honorable Artillery Company, rising to the rank of Major. He was a crack shot and practiced at the range in Bisley, Surrey. He also contributed to gardening magazines, and was the author of The Parks, Open Spaces and Thoroughfares of London, published 1869.


Scope and content/abstract:

Private notebook and out-letter book of Alexander McKenzie, landscape gardener, relating to his role as Superintendent of open spaces for the Metropolitan Board of Works, including extracts from minutes of the Parks, Commons and Open Spaces Committee, and Works Committee, of the Board; personal memoranda; and draft correspondence, including draft letter of application, accompanied by detailed curriculum vitae for the post of Superintendent of Epping Forest. Also notes relating to his private work as landscape gardener.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Two volumes.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the City of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited in the Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, which merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Records relating to Alexander McKenzie's job as Superintendent of Epping Forest can be found in the Epping Forest collection, CLA/077, particularly in section CLA/077/B which includes his official correspondence. See also MR/L/MD/1252 for a plan of Alexandra Park Racecourse by McKenzie.

See reference MBW for the Metropolitan Board of Works records.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
January to May 2011.

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