Sunday, 18 November 2007

A Tour of Morden, South West London

Anyone who knows Morden in South West London will be doing a double take at the sheer audacity of looking for interesting architectural details in this particular location. Unlike previously visited areas such as Wimbledon, Tooting or Raynes Park, Morden was pretty much a semi-rural backwater until the coming of the Underground in the 1930's. What was left of the farming land and fields was then buried by the ground-breaking St. Helier Estate, and the whole character of the area was changed forever. What chance of finding anything interesting here then? Not much if you are to believe local band Good Shoes whose song and video Morden are all about its shortcomings if you are a bunch of hip young dudes craving a bit of 'real life'.

There's a bit more to Morden than pound shops though. In fact the original hamlet is about a mile from the current centre (which is based on the tube station) on the top of a hill on the historic London to Portsmouth route. That's where the original parish church, school and coaching inn were built. There were also a couple of grand houses, the most interesting being Morden Hall, and some watermills along the River Wandle. However bland it might seem to be as usual there's always something interesting to be found if you look hard enough!

Civic Centre, London Road SM4
What's the interest to be found in a fairly uninteresting bit of brickwork outside the Civic Centre? Actually what you are looking at is a heraldic device and part of the Merton coat of arms. It's technical name is the 'Merton Fret' and it was originally found in the arms of Merton Abbey, one of England's largest and most spectacular church houses, until Henry VIII decided that the church had too much power, influence, gold and land that really ought to be his. When you know of the significance of the Fret it's surprising how often it pops up throughout the borough
Corner of London Road & Abberconway Road SM4
Morden is blessed with a couple of snooker halls but this is the best one for faded signage!

Roundabout - London Road, Morden Hall Road and Merton Road
This sign is proof positive to Morderners that you are back home after having braved the wastes of Mitcham, the searing desert of Sutton or the treacherous mires of Wimbledon. Your heart leaps like a hobbit returning to the Shires and as a bonus it has a Merton Fret too!

Abbotsbury Road SM4
High up above the shops is this iron support that used to display the three gold balls of a pawnbroker, long since departed.
Morden Hall Road SM4
A first glimpse of pre-thirties Morden is this badly erroded milestone, now totally illegible, but previously an important marker for those on their way to London.
London Road SM4
A cunningly placed speed camera placed downhill on a bend has obviously caught one irate motorist too many. Not a usual Morden sight and probably the work of an outsider not of the village...
London Road & Green Lane SM4
This junction is the home of historic Morden and this rainwater catcher is on the side of the George, an old coaching inn at the top of the hill that dates from the 17th century- just the place to give the horses a bit of a breather. This is much later but still quite attractive.
London Road SM4
Just by the burnt out speed camera is a reminder of a more leisurely pace of transport. Another milestone, this one still legible declaring 10 Miles to Whitehall. No, it really does lean over that far...
London Road & Green Lane SM4
Now a church hall, the plaque on the side of the building shows it was originally the site of the parish school and is dated 1771. The Garths were the big landowners of the area, hence the local Garth Road, amongst othersLondon Road & Green Lane SM4
Between the Church and the Inn is an old building that is now a retirement home. I was quite taken with the suitable choice for a wind vane.

London Road SM4
Directly outside the church is this Horse water trough with an inscription carved in its side reading In Memory of the Horses that suffered in the South African War. As that finished in about 1905 it would date this to just after that date.

On Billboards Around the Area, SM4
Rubbish...? Humbug and nonsense! These young Indie whipper-snappers don't know they're born...they should drop the superficial angst and find out a bit about the place they grew up in (mind you I have to agree that the kebab shop glimpsed in the video is well worth a visit)


Dub said...

Love that track - and you've found some lovely places to photograph. Thanks :)

I met a couple in Tooting the other day - A chap was taking pictures of shops - I mentioned your blog (but I couldn't remember its name till I was up the road - damn - Sorry.)

Dub said...

I happened to go past Abberley Mews, Wandsworth the other day, and thought of this blog.

Just off Lavender Hill/Wandsworth Road
Cedars Road (ops Abberley Mews) - some nice old fading paintwork (ad for motor repairs, I think - Looks V. old)

Also I think there's an old gas lamp type lamppost on Arundel Av (or one of the other roads off Hillcross Av , on that side), Morden.

Yelfy said...

Thanks for those Dub - I'm starting to build up a store of sites to keep a look out for when I'm passing through and Wandsworth has got to be worth a visit!

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This is certainly an art. I am amazed how the little, less seen details make impression much bigger than the huge exposed to vision things

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