James Watkinson Reserve in Mill Street abuts Ways Terrace, formed in 1860. In 1923 Council resumed the houses on the western side of Ways Terrace to build Ways Terrace flats.
It is named to commemorate Jim Watkinson, a pillar of the Pyrmont community who lived in Bowman Street. He taught hundreds of children to swim and was a driving force in the emergence of Pyrmont as a dominant water polo and swimming club in New South Wales. He was perhaps the best known identity in Pyrmont and certainly one of the most respected and well-liked. He fought against the demolition of the Pyrmont Baths in 1929 but they were eventually removed in 1946. In 1954 the council named this reserve in his honour.
The park commands fine views of Jones Bay. Because it was not formally gazetted, in 1989 part of the land was threatened with redevelopment as apartments. In 1992 City West intervened and a compromise solution retained most of the reserve.