Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Wandering by the Wandle.

In a desperate attempt to clear our heads we went down to Morden Hall Park for a breath of what passes as fresh air around Sarf Lunnon.

The park was originally a deer park for the hall which is just visible in the background with the River Wandle foreground. The Wandle was once the most heavily industrialised river in Britain and the first public railway in the country ran roughly parallel from Croydon down to Wandsworth on the Thames. It was actually a tramway and you brought your own wagons but it was public and was called the Surrey Iron Railway.

As the river passed through the park it was turned into a series of streams to give the required picturesque views.

Elegant iron bridges cross it in places.
To pay for all this grandeur the owners, the Hatfields, doubled up on the river and used it to drive a snuff mill,

powered by two undershot waterwheels, only one remains and that is only a replica. The other would have been on the building opposite.

Some of the buildings associated with the mill, mostly cottages.
The tobacco leaves were fed into two edge running mill stones.

The stones revolved relatively slowly, five to ten times a minute and the leaves were ground to a fine powder, snuff. By the middle of the twentieth century snuff was out of fashion and the mills closed. The estate was handed over to the National Trust who now run it as a park and an education resource.

Cast iron boundary marker beside one of the streams. Careful study revealed that it read Mitcham Parish. Have not found any information about it but it obviously marks the boundary between Morden and Mitcham.

Rather splendid fungus on a decaying log.
Roll on tomorrow and peace on the boat.

Watch this space.............

1 comment:

Linda said...

Hi there, I lived in Morden until I was 10 and attended a school in Lower Morden Lane - now I know why it was called Hatfield School! Fascinated by your article - my Nanna worked in Helena Rubenstein soap factor near the Wandle in the 60's. Linda, nb Kanbedun Again, Braunston