01 April, 2006

From Streatham to Wimbledon Park: suburbia with a harder edge.

Streatham is an interesting suburb, one with lots of charity shops and leisure facilities such as a monster Odeon (Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation), Ceasar’s night club, Streatham Leisure Centre and Streatham Ice Rink. Lots of charity shops too and I picked up a copy of the Golden Bough and a book describing the work of the London County Council in 1951. In fact today I seem to be laden with books- not the best way to walk. Other aspects of Streatham’s interest are there are lots of flats- some very posh others not so posh and some dowdy. It must be a very mixed area.

Starting out from Streatham I walked by the railway passed the Southwark and Vauxhall water works pumping station. This was designed to look like a mosque and very successfully too. It took a neat photograph and was well framed by the lens. Conyers Road is a road in need of gentrification which hasn’t quite happened yet. One house has a stained glass window of a woman watching a departing ship. Other houses are being done up but some have yet to catch up with the backlog of maintenance which houses all require.

Crossing to Tooting Bec common with its 100 year old lido (the biggest pool in Europe says the guide but I’m always sceptical of superlatives) had some photo opportunities especially at the lake where I tried out my new cross filter (gives a star effect on points of light), but was really quite plain. The refreshment hut had reinvented itself as a fairly upmarket caf√©, with a lot of staff. I still had a bottle of lemonade and some biscuits though. I wasn’t tempted by the meals on offer.

After this through more suburban streets to Balham via Ritherdon Road where I worked long ago as a volunteer for the Woodcraft Folk – the Co√∂perative young people’s charity. I crossed Balham High Road past Du Cane Court – once the home of film stars possibly as it was quite near Merton Park studios of the 1930s. More suburban streets, although more gentrified than Streatham leading to another walk by a railway. I felt an Anna Karenina moment coming on as I watched all the trains today. As I got to where the walk leads through the ticket office at Wandsworth Common Railway station the rain started. Luckily there was not too much of it or I might have gone home there and then, but the sun came out again and lasted most of the day. After the station was a major capital ring sign which gave the distance from Woolwich Foot Tunnel as 25 miles. I seem to have come a long way since I began!

After a pleasant walk on Wandsworth Common passing by the old farmhouse I came to the grim Wandsworth Prison. Oscar Wilde was an inmate here. I then came to Wandsworth Cemetery which also has trains running by. In the cemetery there was a grave which gave the occupations of three members of a family as curator, radio engineer and Biologist. It just seemed rather an odd thing to do. After calling at Earlsfield bookshop where I bought two books I crossed the River Wandle into Merton Borough (see picture).
River Wandle Posted by Picasa
The Wandle once powered many mills upstream of this section and flows very quickly. There still is a lot of industry on the banks of the Wandle at this point although none of it is water powered.

I then walked through a recreation ground, past Wimbledon mosque (which looks dirty and has seen better days – some of the moons had dropped off the top) to the end of the walk at Wimbledon Park Station. I paused for refreshment at the Wimbledon Park Welcome store (see picture)

Welcome store at Wimbledon Park Posted by Picasa

All in all a good if a little tiring walk.


Anonymous said...

Welcome to Streatham. Quite a mixed area you are right but as you recorded, full of parks and room for improvement. Isn't the Wandle a wonderful name for a river?

Six Years Late said...

You should visit Stretham Common at the top you can walk through the Rookery and on into Norwood Grove the site of Streatham Lodge known as the White House now. Some days you'd forget how close to London you were.