Wandle Walk, Saturday 7th June 2014

The route starts in Morden Hall Park (see map, below), and takes us northwards, rarely leaving the Wandle, until it joins the Thames at Wandsworth.
We will glimpse something of the Wandle’s industrial heyday, when its waters powered corn, textile, leather and other mills. A few mills – some converted to flats – still stand.
Members may remember the Time Team 'dig' on the Wandle in 2003. Time Team were invited to excavate on the site of the former Liberty’s works at Merton Abbey Mills, Merton. The purpose was to reveal a number of buildings and artefacts relating to the lost workshops of Liberty’s works. This site is on our route. The TV programme ("Digging Liberty") can be seen on 4OD, Series 10 Episode 6, first shown on 9th February 2003.

The Wandle rises in Croydon, fed by lesser streams, and is about 9 miles long. Our part of the Wandle Trail is nearly 5½ miles long and takes about 2 hours. However, a break in Earlsfield for lunch at one of the numerous pubs / cafés is planned, or bring a picnic (or sandwiches) to enjoy in a riverside park.

Meeting Place

We meet at 11.00 am in the restored Victorian Stableyard Café (OS Ref. TQ262686) in Morden Hall Park (National Trust): a tranquil oasis in suburbia where we see snuff mills which survive to line the River.
Address: Morden Hall Road, Morden SM4 5JD. 020 8545 6850.

Click here for Morden Hall National Trust Website

Getting there - from Lewisham

Method 1:
Train from Lewisham to London Bridge – 10 minutes.
Tube from London Bridge to Morden (Northern Line, southbound) – 27 minutes.
A walk of about 500 yards along Aberconway Road to the café, which is in Morden Hall Park.

Method 2 – via Tramlink:
Bus (No. 54) to Beckenham Junction.
Tram (every 10 mins) from Beckenham Junction to Croydon East – 18 minutes.
(Note that the above journey can start at Elmers End if it is more convenient).

Tram from East Croydon to Phipps Bridge – 22 minutes. At East Croydon, take the tram marked "Wimbledon", departing from the same platform.

Phipps Bridge is a short walk from the Victoria Stableyard Café. Go into the Park (which is right next to the Tram Stop), and take the path on the right (the black dots on the map). Keep an eye open for signs containing words like Café, Snuff Mill, and Heritage. You will see the Stableyard Café signposted.

Which is best? The London Bridge / Northern Line is undoubtedly quickest, if you don't mind Tube journeys. The Tramlink route lets you see parts of London from a different viewpoint. A test-run found that the 54 bus can take 30 minutes from Lewisham High Street to Beckenham Junction. The 09:44 train from Lewisham to Elmers End is only a 15 minute journey. You should allow a full hour for the "Tramlink" part of the journey.

Getting home

From where the Wandle joins the Thames, it is a short walk (½ mile) over the Hurlingham Rail & Footbridge to Putney Bridge Tube station (District Line, no step-free access).
Depending on numbers, the organiser, LLHS member Jane Bowden-Dan, would like to offer tea and cakes from 3.30 pm at her flat (two minutes from the station).
Though not essential, those interested in this Walk are asked to let Jane know (see below).

The Walk is, we suggest, for adults only, who take part at their own risk. Please note that although the Walk presents no obvious risks to responsible participants as far as we are familiar with it, the Society can accept no responsibility or liability for loss or injury in the unlikely case of such an event occurring.

Jane Bowden-Dan, 020 7736 4544, email: JaneBowdenDan@aol.com

The start of the route

The complete route

Wandle Walk, Saturday, 7th June 2014

Some Plaques along the Trail in Wandsworth
To tempt you to join our Summer walk along the Wandle I have reproduced some of the plaques which we shall see in Wandsworth, near the mouth of the River. From these we glimpse something of the Borough and the Wandle’s history and industrial heyday.
Having taken a break for lunch in Earlsfield, possibly at the aptly-named Halfway House, a Young’s pub built on land owned by Magdalen College, Oxford, we enter King George’s Park. Before rejoining the river, we pass an acid grassland – the remains of a WW2 army coal depot, while on Foster’s Way. This is named after Corp. Edward Foster VC (1886-1946) from Streatham of the East Surrey Regiment, nicknamed ‘Tiny’:

Once in Wandsworth Town Centre we see evidence of the Flemish and French Protestant refugees, and later Huguenots, who settled in the area from the end of the 16th century, and brought many new skills and trades. The plaques on this building, just off the High Street, mark the site of the Huguenot Church, until it moved to East Hill:

After crossing the High Street into Ram Street, on the side of the Young’s Brewery site, we find a plaque for The Surrey Iron Railway. This used horse-drawn wagons, but was the earliest railway in England, possibly in the world, opening in 1803. The first meeting of the railway proprietors was held in the Spread Eagle pub:

Near the mouth of the Wandle, there is another Wandsworth Society plaque describing the industrial activities on and near ‘The Causeway’. But instead of photographing that, I took a picture, nearing low tide, from the little peninsular known as The Spit, at the end of our Walk - looking towards the Thames:

Jane Bowden-Dan, 020 7736 4544, JaneBowdenDan@aol.com

Doing the Wandle Walk, Saturday, 7th June 2014

Merton photos: Web Editor; all others by LLHS member Graham Milne except where noted.

The Walk, joined by 10 members and friends, was a success, despite a shaky start. The forecast was for torrential rain, but apart from an early brief soaking, it was warm and dry, becoming sunny later.
After a specially-arranged viewing of the National Trust's new Archimedes-screw water turbine, we left Morden Hall Park, crossing the deer park and wetland. Having rejoined the River Wandle, with Deen City Farm beside us, we visited Merton Abbey Mills (general view, below), where William Morris and Liberty & Co. had their workshops.

The picture/movie below shows the water-wheel at Merton Abbey Mills.

We took the unexpected opportunity to see the excavated remains of Merton Priory Chapter House and museum run by local volunteers, where some of the LLHS group tried traditional hand-block printing (below). Part of the excavations of the Chapter House can be seen in the background.

The Chapter House remains are right under the busy Merantun Way relief road (A24) in Colliers Wood. This year is the 900th anniversary of the foundation of Merton Priory, and the Chapter House is open on just a few selected weekends.

The result of our good luck in seeing these remains was that the Walk was rather longer than planned, and one or two of the less hardy souls did not complete the distance or had other events to get to, and left at Earlsfield. They missed the attractive King George's Park, where we saw the good and the bad side of being a water-bird. First, the (presumably) mother swan with her cygnets. An adult male is known as a cob, and an adult female is a pen.

Second, we saw two goslings (Chinese* geese, possibly) clinging to the rubbish on an upturned shopping trolley. They did not look at all happy, but perhaps they were simply young and silly and having a fun day out.
*Now correctly identified (April 2020) as Egyptian Geese – Ed.

We continued in a northerly direction. Your Web Editor, who had been obliged to catch up with the main group, was on his Brompton folding bicycle (below), and managed to pass the group without knowing it, but it all worked out well in the end.

And so we approached the end of the walk as we reached the confluence of the Wandle and the Thames at Wandsworth (below), and then enjoyed the excellent tea and cakes provided in Jane's riverside flat in Fulham. And so home by Tube. bridge, train and bicycle.

photo by Jane Bowden-Dan