Sunday, February 25, 2024

South Wimbledon

This is the 2nd station I have visited on the Northern Line and the 190th out of 272 stations on the Underground. The station originally opened in 1926 as part of the Morden extension of the City and South London Railway which later became the Northern Line.

This is another station designed by the architect Charles Holden. The Morden extension stations were his first major commission for the Underground Group. Art deco lighting is a feature of the stairwell. There are escalators on either side of these stairs. Originally they were wooden but were updated to metal escalators in the 1950s.

The octagonal window in the roof of the ticket hall floods it with natural light.
Other windows above the entrance also add to the amount of light in the station.

Outside the station the roundel can be clearly seen. The roundel was the idea of Johnston who standardised it for publicity purposes in the 1920s.  Holden used the roundel in a number of ways in his station designs. Masts appeared outside stations and acted like flagpoles for the logo. Stained glass logos appeared in the windows above station entrances as you can see here. He wanted the public to be able to see a station from all directions.
I exited the station onto a very busy crossroad. I had looked at the station map but it didn't show much of interest so I decided I would walk a short distance down each of the roads.

This building was the first to catch my eye with the wrought iron metal writing reflected onto the door window: Manor Club and Institute.

The building which opened in 1890 thrived as a Working Men's club until recently. It offered a varied programme of lectures, whist, billiards, bowls, allotment and cycle club meetings in addition to a bar serving beer and cider. Part of the building is now being used by the Ely Pentecostal Church.

The adjoining Masonic Hall is now Merton Public Hall. Both buildings were founded by a local land owner and philanthropist, John Innes.
John Innes (1829-1904) used some of the money he made from property development in the City of London to buy nearly 200 hectares in Merton, Morden and Wimbledon. From around 1870 he laid out roads, planted trees and hedges and built houses on part of the land. 
He gave it the name 'garden suburb'  and lived as its squire in Manor House. He left most of his money for horticultural research, and it was the John Innes Horticultural Institution that devised the formula for familiar garden composts which bear his name to this day.

A little further down the road I came across the Manor House where John Innes had once lived. Originally built in the 1700s, it is a Grade II listed building which looks empty at the moment. 

Merton Fire Station.

This was the second fire engine to leave as I walked past and there was at least one more inside.

This studio has a number of different ceramic artists making and selling their goods. The window was full of adverts which made for interesting reading.

This is the old Salvation Army hall. The Salvation Army has moved into other premises but the Merton Faith in Action Homelessness project is still based here providing meals, washing and laundering facilities as well as assistance and advice.

This building used to be the council offices and was erected for that purpose in the early 1900s. Apparently the area at the back of the buildings was used for Merton Fire Station. the council vacated the building in 1942 and the central library moved in and remained there until 1960 when it moved to Morden Road. From what I could see the property has now been converted for residential purposes

This is the tram crossing the road. I was surprised there was no level crossing, just traffic lights telling you when to stop. There are warning signs reminding you to look both ways. Trams call at the stop every 5 minutes with trams scheduled to arrive at both platforms simultaneously.

Tramslink opened in 2000 and has three routes in the Croydon area. This is not the first time London streets have seen trams. The first tram tracks in London were established in 1861 with horse drawn trams. The London tram passenger service ceased in 1952. I imagine no-one expected to see trams on the streets of London again but just 48 years later they were back.

Walking round these unfamiliar residential streets I hope but don't expect to find something of real interest. I usually take numerous photos and then go home to research the interesting buildings I might have seen. This building didn't look particularly interesting but its name, Dorset Hall, and its columned entrance made me think it would be worthwhile trying to find out something of its history. It didn't take me long to discover that this was the home of Rose Lamartine Yates, a suffragette and social rights campaigner. She belonged to the Women's Social and Political Union which was founded by the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. She took over the organisation in Wimbledon in 1909. Rose was first arrested in Feb 1909 at a protest in Westminster and sentenced to a month's imprisonment. She was criticised in Punch magazine for abandoning her baby. However, her decision to protest and be imprisoned was supported by her husband, a lawyer, who defended her at her trial. Her home, Dorset Hall, became a refuge for women recovering from imprisonment.
Once women had received the vote, Rose continued her work as a reformer. In 1919, She went on to be elected to the Greater London Council as an independent. She campaigned for equal pay and the provision of nursery education. 
Dorset Hall was built in the 18th century and was Grade II listed in 1954 (the year Rose died). In the 1930s the house had an extensive garden and was sold at a discount to Merton Council with the stipulation that local people should be free to use the gardens 'forever'. This did not happen and the grounds have been built on with a nursing home taking up most of the gardens. The hall was used as social housing by Merton Council but owned by Clarion Housing who now plan to sell it.
Then along comes Barbara Gorna who has started a campaign to save the Hall. Intrigued by the associations of the house she formed the Dorset Hall Group. Barbara and the group seem to have moved mountains in making Clarion Housing, Merton Council and Historic England take their responsibilities of a Grade II listed building seriously. It has now been made 'weatherproof and watertight'.  I have no doubt that this building will be brought to life again.  
Dorset Hall has many stories in its walls. We are campaigning not just to save the hall but to use it for public good and honour the memory of these women who fought so hard on our behalf. Very few buildings celebrating women’s achievements are known. It is important for the future that these are recognised. After all, what is not remembered is soon forgotten. Dorset Hall Group.

Walking back to have a look at the other side of the tube station I passed this shop, advertising itself as a traditional stained glass, lead light makers. Established in 1995, it designs, makes, repairs and restores stained glass. 

Walking in the opposite direction brought me to the Abbey recreation ground, playing fields and a nature walk.

Across the road from the recreation ground was this large church. Despite looking much older the church of St John the Divine was built in 1914 to mark the centenary of the death of Admiral Lord Nelson, whose country house, Merton Place, formerly stood nearby. Unfortunately the church was closed so I couldn't go in to see the altarpiece that was made from timber from HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship at the battle of Trafalgar.

In the grounds of the church are these two small cannons from HMS Victory.

Close to the church is the smallest pub in Merton. The Trafalgar is situated on the corner of High Path and Pincott Road. The earliest reference to the pub was in 1868 when this area was known as 'the rookery' due to its damp, cramped and poor housing. By 1890 the building was licensed to sell only beer and cider. During the 20th century, the Trafalgar had a reputation for its 'rough' clientele. It was also known as the 'Threepenny Hop' because men leaving the nearby Merton Abbey station would hop over the fence for a pint.

This was another interesting shop which seemed to be crammed full with different time pieces of all ages, types and styles.

Another road from the tube station took me to the Polka Theatre, which is a dedicated Children's theatre.

Opened in 1901, this was Wimbledon Swimming Baths. The building was much valued as the pool could be boarded over creating a large space for public meetings. Events have included boxing matches, dances,  cinema shows, air rifle competitions and suffragette meetings. Nowadays it is a leisure centre and includes a fitness suite, sauna, dance studio etc.

I enjoyed my day wandering around South Wimbledon and was surprised by the number of interesting places I found.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024


This is the first station for me to visit on the Northern Line. The Northern Line is the amalgamation of  two separate railway companies - The City and South London Railway and the Hampstead Tube. 
Here is a map of the line showing all 52 stations. I have already visited 9 where the stations are serviced by other underground lines. It still leaves me with 43 to explore. Today I am starting at the Undergound's  most southerly station which is Morden on the Northern line. I know you will be saying I have that wrong as the map shows the station at the top which surely means it is the most northern station but no these maps always have the station you are at shown at the top. Compared to North London i.e. north of the Thames, there are very few stations south of the River Thames. It just so happens that the last three underground lines I have to visit all have stations in South or South-West London.

The station has 5 platforms which surprised me as the station is only used by the Northern Line. Three tracks run through the station to the depot and there are two platform islands.

The octagonal ticket hall has a large octagonal raised window flooding the hall with natural light.
The station was one of the first stations to be built in a more modern style for London Underground by Charles Holden. The architect Charles Holden (1875-1960) was commissioned by the Underground's Managing Director, Frank Pick to design a series of new buildings for the ever growing underground. Pick wanted a fresh new look that would transform  tube station buildings into beacons of modernity. Holden introduced the roundel into his designs so that passengers could easily identify the stations at street level.  The prominent roundels, Portland stone and glazed screens were a feature of his earliest designs in the 1920s on the Northern Line. Holden designed over 40 London Underground stations with no two stations alike.
Morden was one of the first stations Holden designed in 1926.
 On the 26th September 1926, London Underground opened the Northern Line extension to Morden. This station was one of seven new ones built on the Underground. The Underground contributed to the increase in the development of the area and an increase in population by nine fold between 1921 and 1931. Until the underground arrived Morden was a sleepy village with a few small shops and a handful of farms


With this extension, Morden became a transport hub for south London, with buses going from the station to the suburbs not served by the Underground.

Outside the station was a modern water fountain. There is a big push to have free drinking water accessible and to cut down on the use of plastic water bottles.

The tracks going down to the depot.

This is Merton Civic centre home to the council offices. What I didn't realise until I was doing the research after I had taken the photos, was that the 14 storey building behind  is also part of the Civic centre so you will have to imagine the rest of it.

The High Street seemed to be made up of numerous eating establishments and estate agents. This section had four estate agents in a row.
Art deco shopping parade which was refurbished in 2018 giving it a new lease of life.

Further along the road is one of the biggest mosques in Western Europe. The Baitul Futuh mosque was built on the site of an old diary and covers an area of 5.2 acres. It is a mix of Islamic and modern British architecture and was voted one of the top 50 buildings in the world by the Spectator magazine. Whereas it is impressive, I can't agree that it would be top 50 in the UK let alone in the world. The building can accommodate 1600 worshippers in each of the two prayer halls.

Across the road from the mosque is Morden Park, a hive of activity on a Sunday morning with numerous football matches taking place. I followed the road back to see what was on the other side of the station. A short walk beyond the station brought me to Morden Hall Park.
Morden Hall was built during the 1790s for the Garth family, who owned the manor of Morden for over 200 years. Between 1830 and 1870, the building housed a private academy for the sons of gentry. In 1872 the estate was sold to the Hatfeild family, who had leased the adjacent snuff and tobacco mills since 1831. During the Great War, Morden Hall was converted for use as a military hospital on the instructions of its owner, Gilliat Edward Hatfeild. It remained  an annexe to the London Hospital for several years. Following the death of Mr Hatfeild in 1940, the Morden Hall estate was bequeathed to the National Trust. The Hall was leased as council offices until 1985. It was then converted into a popular restaurant and is now a private wedding venue.

 Morden Hall is set in parkland with the River Wandle running through its meadows. Morden Hall Park is a former deer park owned and managed by the National Trust. One of several estates bordering the River Wandle during the industrial hey day.

This is the original watermill where tobacco was ground into snuff between 1760 and 1922. The snuff was snorted up the nose to induce sneezing and was thought to clear the mind. Each month the watermills ground 3 tons of snuff.

Originally two waterwheels turned in the river, driving the machinery in the Snuff Mills. The river was channelled towards the mills and the flow of the river was controlled by a metal gate.
 This was the Snuff Mill now used for children's workshops. 
A view of the two mills which were built c1750 and c1870.

A couple of the old millstones have been strategically placed to keep people of the grass.

The old stables have been converted into offices and a cafe.

I walked through the park, having a quick look at the wetland area. The National Trust have erected a boardwalk allowing easy access into the bullrushes and reeds making it easier to view the various species that enjoy this habitat. Not that I spotted any wildlife.
I left the park and crossed the tramline. Just missed getting a photo of the tram as it passed by just before I got there.

In the park I had seen signs for a city farm just outside the park so I decided to pay it a visit and maybe stop for lunch if there is a cafe there.

The yarn bombers had been busy decorating this rubbish bin.

Lots of families were enjoying the animals and feeding them. This goat was very disappointed that I had not bought any animal feed to give him. I did stop in the cafe for some lunch but it wasn't great.

The river ran past the farm so I walked beside it until I reached the main road back to the station. A pleasant day's walking and the weather was kind. I look forward to seeing more of the Northern Line in the coming weeks and months.