Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Merton Hall Road : The House Tile Mecca of South Wimbledon

You know how it is when you're walking along on a bright autumnal day and something catches your eye - in this instance an aesthetically pleasing bit of tilework. If you see one then it's a moment of interest but to see a few in one place, well that's worth getting your camera out for.

That's pretty much what happened to me as I was strolling down a South Wimbledon street the other week. I have to confess to having a soft spot for a bit of tile work, whether it be the interior of an old butcher shop, the pillar between to adjoining shops or a (not so) humble domestic doorway. Every now and then you might also come across a few adorning the outside of a house as well, and to my mind can really catch the eye and lift the spirit. If you're susceptible to that sort of thing of course...
...otherwise you might find it a bit of a bore and an unnecessary distraction and possibly decide to paint over it!

The road in question was Merton Hall Road and at the time I saw these I wasn't aware that Merton Council had designated it with its own conservation area Actually the design guide had some useful information in it such as details of the architect and builders
The development of Merton Hall Road on the Merton Hall Estate began in 1884 when George Palmer and his architect Francis James Smith together with Charles T. Tuftin and his surveyor Percy H. Clarke commenced building. These were largely responsible for introducing the lively variety of the Queen Anne revival detail which gives the street its character.
There seems to have been a George Palmer of 9 Westbourne Terrace, Garratt Lane, Wandsworth ( a few miles away) who had a whole hat-ful of leases and mortgages in the area at that time so it's tempting to think he was a bit of a local entrepreneur riding the local housing boom. Whoever he was though you can't fault his attention to detail.

I didn't get to picture every set of tiles down the road - some were duplicated and some were obscured - but I think there's a pretty representational set here.

Quite a subdued one to start with. Not a design that shouts at you but quite pleasant all the same.
No, these two, above and below, are not quite the same although if it wasn't for the daisies you'd have to look twice to confirm it. I've no idea who produced the tiles of if they were fairly common 'off the shelf' designs. It would be interesting if anyone recognised them though.
The one below certainly is a duplicate of the one above though. I don't think I saw more than a couple of designs repeated so it certainly didn't feel like there were just job lots of tiles being used. I wonder if the brick border is brown on the one above as well?
Roughly 125 years old and they've still retained their lustre. Not many obvious cracks caused by frost or ice either
I was wondering if there's an unstated sense of tile-snobbery amongst the owners. Do residents secretly covert their neighbours tiles? And why were some painted over? Most inexplicable...
(Below) The black border gives this one a bit of an edge though. It works OK, although I think I'd prefer a white border but the design guide definitely comes out against any unnecessary paining of brick features at all. So there...
(Above) Blues, black, browns and greys - bit of a mish-mash but still colourful enough
(Above) A bit of detail from the set below, which I think looks a bit like a Navajo woven blanket on the front of the house. Not that I've ever seen a Navajo blanket but it's what I'd imagine it to look like
I think this has to be my favourite of the designs though - even if only of the interesting colours. It also seems to have a fair bit of Moorish influence in its design. Very delicate all round and a nice one to finish on.

1 comment:

stephenn richardsonn said...

I was wondering if there's an unstated sense of tile-snobbery amongst the owners.

Builder Wimbledon