Scroll down to find the 25 self-guided local history walks you can do as your lockdown exercise! Or you might want to listen up to one of these Zoom talks…
Hopefully these talks will help get us through the winter, but until we get back on the streets as a group, scroll down to view the Summerstown182 Great Escapes, 25 wonderful south west London history walks. Most of them take less than an hour and are ideal for your lockdown exercise. Packed with local knowledge and entertaining facts, they’re sure to make you feel more connected with where you live. Just click on the title to download a self-guided map. You can print it out or do the walk using your phone and access hyperlinks packed with additional information!
Summerstown182 loves to promote local history by putting up plaques. Boy soldier Sid Lewis, jazz pioneer Sadie Crawford and Peter Barr ‘The Daffodil King’ are three of the most recent. And there are plenty more in the pipeline; Albert Hill, Francis Kitz, the Corruganza Boxmakers, Marc Bolan and the People of Wardley Street are all hopefully coming your way! The latest one in Mitcham Road, Tooting celebrates the site of a forgotten recording studio and a great bit of musical heritage…
Click on the link above to download this great historic cycle ride around Tooting, especially devised for Black History Month. If you enjoy it, please show your love for local history and make a donation here towards another historic blue plaque! A long-lost piece of musical heritage on the site of the Mixed Blessings West Indian Bakery, right here in the middle of Tooting. Who knew it! Saddle up and get on the streets to find out more…
In 2019 we put up a plaque celebrating Peter Barr ’The Daffodil King’ and gave out historic bulbs, covering ‘Blooming Tooting’ in a beautiful golden carpet the following spring. It was so lovely we even had a visit from BBC Radio 4 ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’. Next year we’re hoping to give tours of Peter Barr’s magical garden, the house where he raised his seven children on Garratt Lane! ‘The Peter Barr Experience’ will include a tour of the site of where his nurseries once stood and will raise funds to get young people planting and growing through Fircroft Primary School’s gardening project.
If you can’t go on one of the Walks outlined below, have a look at this film, put together for an online community event at the height of the lockdown. It gave people a chance to think about the area and its history at a time when they couldn’t get out much. Thanks to the brilliant Lawrence Evans who put it together!
25 LOCAL HISTORY WALKS IN SOUTH WEST LONDON TO KEEP YOU ACTIVE DURING THE LOCKDOWN
One of the greatest, almost unbelievable stories in an area rich in history is that of the fortunes of Wimbledon Football Club, down by the Summerstown Wandle. Dickie Guy’s penalty save, Princess Diana presenting the Cup, the day SW19 was invaded by Harry the Haddock, their extraordinary rise through the leagues, not once but twice. This Walk will hopefully enlighten any fans too young to remember this locality and jog the memory of those who need a refresher.
Tooting’s historic streets have always attracted people looking for a good time. From ‘First Lady Sadie’ through to the much-loved Sound Lounge, Tooting folk have loved their music and some of the biggest names in the world have come here to record or perform for them. This tour tells their story.
The war memorial in St Mary’s Church, Summerstown bears the names of 182 individuals whose lives were lost in the 1914-18 conflict. Most of them lived five minutes from the church. Follow in their footsteps on this unique walk which documents one corner of south west London’s First World War experience through their stories.
A glorious romp round the southern part of Streatham, getting to know some of its cast of colourful characters. Mixing some intense High Road action with the quieter, quirkier backwaters where we all know the strangest things can happen.
This blockbuster Walk explores the nightmare one-way system which from the mid-60’s has besmirched central Wandsworth. Starting and finishing on the Town Hall ‘island’, it crosses the Wandle Valley through King George’s Park following the trail of Joseph Bazalgette’s long-lost aqueduct.
You can still get your fix of Wimbledon this year, thanks to this fantastic tour, radiating around Wimbledon Village. Whilst you can divert into its many fleshpots at any point, it avoids the main drag and takes you down some routes that are less well-travelled. Wimbledon Common, The Ridgway and Dairy Walk all feature, as do the many noteworthy ‘Village People’ who have populated them.
Taking in three postcodes and more than its share of green space, this blockbuster of a walk features some star turns including Dr Johnson’s Mulberry Tree, All Saints Church ‘The Cathedral of South London’ and the world famous Tooting Bec Lido.
Thanks to his research 25 years ago, George Dear (1937–2020) put the local connection of Peter Barr ‘The Daffodil King’ firmly on the map. In 2019 a blue plaque was placed at the entrance to Aboyne Estate commemorating this history. George was born and raised in Pevensey Road on the daffodil fields where his ancestors once worked. This walk, taking in Streatham and Lambeth cemeteries, acknowledges the precious gift he has given us.
A full-blown assault on the tastebuds, guiding you from Tooting Bec to Tooting Broadway, through an area where you can get food from every corner of the world with helpful hints on what to look out for along the way!
This walk takes you in search of where an enormous telescope was once built in a corner of Wandsworth Common, passing through the Magdalen estate and the southern portion of Earlsfield. Step into a world of landed aristocrats, eccentric clerics and gypsy fortune-tellers. If you seek adventure and discovery, this is the one for you.
Feel the local love on the ultimate orbital tour of Tooting, combining the main hubs with quieter residential streets where people have settled from all over the world. A special insight into an area packed with diversity and proud of its outstanding community togetherness.
Marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day, this walk covers a number of notable locations in Tooting relating to the Second World War. For local people that ended on 8th May 1945 with street parties like the one in Foss Road below kindly shared by Dudley Hutchinson.
Whether its the shire horses delivering the beer, those working alongside the gypsies and costermongers or pulling the trucks of The Surrey Iron Railway, the history of Garratt Lane is entwined with the horse. This is their story.
The Wandsworth riverside area has changed beyond all recognition in recent years. Keeping a watchful eye on it all, the mighty Wandle on its last glorious stretch before it hits the Thames. Whether you’re spiritual or not, this walk truly takes you to another place…
Follow in the footsteps of Peter Barr ‘The Daffodil King’ and discover the extraordinary horticultural heritage of the Wandle Valley in the Tooting and Earlsfield area. Now updated to include Fishponds Fields, open from 8am to 6pm until September!
A fascinating circuit celebrating one of the great events in the struggle for women’s rights in the workplace, here in Summerstown, on the banks of the Wandle!
The life and Tooting times of an extraordinary pioneering jazz musician from Fountain Road – the first woman to be honoured with a blue plaque in Tooting, this tour visits some of the key locations in her early life.
If Earlsfield is your manor, you really need to go on this walk to truly get under its skin. From the Wandle to Wandsworth Common and back again, its a fascinating insight into the evolution of this area and the people behind it.
Almost a century after his outstanding double gold medal Olympic Games triumph in Antwerp, get ready for another historic blue plaque event by taking an Edwardian-age tour around the Tooting world of champion athlete, Albert Hill.
A rip-roaring ride around Tooting Bec, Totterdown Fields and Trinity Road, packed with characters and quirky stories, featuring one of the leading personalities in the development of this area.
Celebrating all those who worked along the Wandle and made it a brighter, more colourful place. Throw in Merton Priory, Horatio Nelson, The Beatles, cash from the Great Train Robbery and London’s ugliest buildng and you have a walk to remember.
Inspired by Raymond Briggs’ beautiful homage to his parents ‘Ethel and Ernest’, this magical walk takes you from leafy Wimbledon Park to the industrial heart of Wandsworth via the Southfields Grid.
Don’t miss out on your fix of tennis this summer with a sensational double circuit, taking in the best of Wimbledon Park, the All England Club and Wimbledon Common. Dedicated to all the wonderful people I met in 17 years on the courtesy cars…
‘Britain’s Bravest Binman’ lived all his life in Tooting. Discover the First World War story of Corporal ‘Tiny’ Ted Foster VC and how a small village in France has recently commemorated him.
Discover the site of Tooting’s ‘Exotic Nursery’ and find out about this area’s remarkable orchid-growing connection and the work of Nellie Roberts who painted them for 56 years.
More coming soon!
Over the last five years we’ve been exploring the First World War impact on a small corner of the borough of Wandsworth. Summerstown182 in partnership with Big Up Films were awarded Heritage Lottery Funding in 2016. What followed was a wonderful twelve months, packed with events and activities which have really helped raise the profile of our community history project. Our funded period started last September with the unveiling of a plaque to Sidney Lewis and finished a year later with a ‘Summerstown Celebration’ where we showcased the work we’ve been doing with local schools and put up another historic plaque. The First World War centenary is over but the work goes on, promoting knowledge and awareness of local history with the wider community. Follow us on twitter @summerstown182 to keep updated on everything that’s happening!
We worked extensively in the past year with Smallwood Primary and Burntwood School and engaged with a number of others. People saw some of this work at the Celebration event; three short films, a crafted timeline and a wonderful trail map, which will be very useful on our guided walks. We established a Friends of Summerstown182 history group and organised workshops demonstrating the filming and recording of oral history and genealogical and research skills. At one of our meetings the curator of ‘Far From the Western Front’ gave a talk about the South Asian contribution to the First World War. We were very proud to instigate the hosting of their exhibition throughout September at St George’s Hospital and supported it with two history walks. We expanded our knowledge through group visits to various archives, museums and exhibitions and such events as the installation of the African and Caribbean War Memorial and Chattri Memorial Day.
We continue to engage with everyone in our community and are dedicated to increase understanding and awareness of this period. We broadened our existing Summerstown182 Walk to highlight the role of women and the industrial heritage of this area, including the role of the local hospital and River Wandle. We organised two library-based military history roadshows to help people learn about their family’s role in the war. We contributed extensively to the Wandsworth Heritage Festival and the centenary events around a local Victoria Cross winner, Corporal Edward Foster.
Talks have been given to Wandsworth MIND, Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, Wandsworth U3A, the National Audit Office, the Western Front Association, Wandsworth Historical Society, Earlsfield Business Network and Tara Arts. We participated in community events such as Hazelfest, Tootopia and Broadwater Road Fun Day and showcased our work at Merton Heritage Discovery Day and the Lambeth Local History Fair. We organised a very successful riverside walk as part of the Wandle Fortnight. We promoted the LSE’s Charles Booth map initiative through our Waterloo Sunset guided walks. We have organised trips for Friends to visit the battlefields and memorials in Belgium and France, actively participating in a number of ceremonies there. We memorably laid a tribute at The Indian Memorial on behalf of the Tooting Sikh Community. On a beautiful March afternoon, one hundred years after his death we held a ‘Remembrance’ in Streatham Cemetery for a ‘forgotten soldier’ buried in an unmarked grave. Two of our guided walks ‘Historic Earlsfield’ and ‘The Industry of Garratt Lane’ have contributed funds to put up a plaque commemorating a Victorian running track. The unveiling of this was part of the Summerstown Celebration.
But there is still lots to do and we will carry on telling the stories of the Summerstown182, through our walks, talks and meetings until the end of the commemoration period in November 2018. We’ve now written over 160 of these so make sure you read them all by checking the Roll of Honour.
If you live locally or not too far away, we would love you to be a ‘Friend of the Summerstown182’ and attend our quarterly meetings, trips or walks. The next meeting will be at 730pm on Tuesday 23rd January in St Mary’s Church Hall (entrance from Wimbledon Road).
Summerstown is an historic area between Earlsfield and Tooting in south west London, close to the River Wandle and sandwiched between Wimbledon Stadium and Burntwood School. On this site, over the next two years, as we commemorate the centenary of the First World War, we will attempt to build a picture of this much-changed community as it stood one hundred years ago. This will be through the stories of 182 men whose names are inscribed on the 1914-18 war memorial in St Mary’s Church on Wimbledon Road. We have promoted it on the streets, through a popular guided walk which goes past many of their homes and key locations.
Have a look at the map where they lived and see if any came from your road – a poppy marks the home of each soldier or sailor and most of them are just five minutes walk from the church. There are now 168 of them on the map. In three years we have identified a connection with this area for 179 of them, only three remain unidentified. Scroll down the Roll of Honour and see if you recognise any names. Beneath the names and personal details are links to the stories that have been written so far, of their lives and deaths and of the effect their loss had on this neighbourhood. Over this four year commemoration period, we are dedicated to researching and writing something about each of them.
One local soldier who did come home, was thirteen year old Sidney Lewis from Defoe Road, Tooting who a few years ago was recognised by The Imperial War Museum as the youngest British soldier known to have served in the First World War. We wanted to publicly acknowledge this incredible story and organised a campaign called ‘A Quid For Sid’ to raise money to place a plaque on his old home. Due to the outstanding generosity of local people this was achieved in a very short time and on Saturday 24th September, Sidney’s son Colin unveiled it for us on what was an extraordinary and very special day. Last year a similar initiative resulted in Wandsworth Council placing a Green Heritage Plaque at the site of a Second World War V2 incident in nearby Hazelhurst Road.
If you would like to get involved in this project, help with some research or can add something to the knowledge we’ve already discovered, it would be great to hear from you. We have been in touch with quite a number of relatives and new information is constantly emerging. We have also established contacts in Germany, Belgium, Turkey and Australia. Significantly we have discovered that at least two of our men, discharged from the army through illness are buried locally in unmarked graves and their miltary service has no formal recognition. We are very pleased that recently this has been rectified for one of them, Arthur Mace, who lived on Thurso Street. We are always keen to raise awareness of the project and more than happy to talk to schools, workplaces or community groups about it. We recently collaborated with Ernest Bevin College as part of their submission to BBC School Report and were thrilled at how engaged the young people were. Have a look below at the brilliant short film they made. We also worked on an extensive project with Burntwood School which saw Year 9 students learn about and contribute to communicating the First World War history of this area through creating digital outputs and artworking a beautiful Summerstown182 timeline. Smallwood Primary School did a First World War trail of the streets around their school and helped put together a map of the route. They were also heavily involved in creating artwork for our ‘Remembrance’ of a ‘forgotten’ Tooting soldier William Mace and participated in the memorable and moving ceremony we had for him in Streatham Cemetery.
Geoff Simmons is the Heritage Coordinator and founder of this project and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.