05 November, 2010

Woodcote - homes for heroes?

A suburb of Purley hides some very exclusive developement- the Webb Estate. Said to be a garden village before the time of the Garden cities it hardly carries the radical message of the real garden cities and suburbs - Freedom and Co-operation are not represented here. It is an exclusive development for city men and the unfriendly notices forbidding all kinds of activity including driving tuition and frequent gates deter all those who might even walk here. I am undeterred by such notices and claim the right to walk. I came here to see the Promenade de Verdun, a memorial To the French soldiers who died in glory during the Great War. The road is planted with poplars and they are planted in soil from the battlefield of Armentieres.

This soil (ten tons of it) had to be sifted in order to remove bullets and shrapnel to prevent damage to the trees by souvenir hunters. The sifters found 2 sacks full.

The memorial is a simple granite obelisk from Cornwall with lettering in French.

A short walk brings one to the heart of the Estate, the Village Green complete with stocks (installed in 1937 presumably). I shouldn't think they've seen any prisoners.

It's unlikely anyone would be in the stocks after an evening at the Lord Roberts Temperance Inn either.

I wonder what Bobs would have made of that?
The village green was intended to be inhabited by the men working on the estate but they proved too expensive for the working men.

All in all the Webb Estate did what it set out to do - an exclusive home for city men, and now no doubt houses similar people, TV and film stars and perhaps government ministers all in leafy exclusivity.


bazza said...

I wonder why there is a French war memorial there? Of course there are plenty of English ones in France but that's where the fighting was!

Anonymous said...

Bazza - see http://www.croydon.gov.uk/leisure/parksandopenspaces/parksatoz/promenade/pdvhistory