There is perhaps nothing better than taking a tram direct down the tracks to either Ampere Way or Waddon Marsh because its a ride on most of the old SiR route. Despite contrary apperances such as the lack of access footpaths however, one can walk alongside much of the Tramlink route between Mitcham Junction and Waddon Marsh. Its just a question of knowing which footpaths and roads to use.
The entrance to Mitcham Common from Mitcham Junction station approach road.
From Mitcham Junction the best route is via the golf course (aka Mitcham Common.) The first part of this route takes one towards the golf club itself, then walk past this and on the east side is a public footpath, not too obvious in apperance but it parallels the Tramlink route pretty much of the distance to Beddington Lane.
On the east side of the golf club house, alongside the golf course southern boundary there’s a public footpath (ringed in red.)
Beddington Lane tram stop looking west towards the Mitcham flyover.
At Beddington Lane there is a choice of two walking routes towards Therapia Lane. The nothern route takes one across a further section of Mitcham Common before coming down to Therapia via Mitcham Road and Therapia Lane. The southern route goes down Beddington lane and then along Coomber Way. The Tramlink depot can be seen from the southern route so this is perhaps the better route.
South of the Beddington Lane crossing is Jessops Way, a reminder of William Jessop’s invovlement in the building of the SiR. There do not seem to be any roads named as such after Benjamin Outram, the railway’s contractor and the father, if one may say, of our tramways. Perhaps Croydon’s ‘Tram’link is a poignant enough reminder?
Jessops Way off Beddington Lane after William Jessop, the SiR’s surveyor.
Entrance to the Tramlink depot at Therapia Lane.
Activity at (possibly) Waddon Court Farm in the early 20th Century. Waddon mills can be seen in the distance.
Farming in the Beddington, Carshalton and Waddon areas continued right up until perhaps the early 1950’s. Farms began to be initially lost in the Carshalton area from about 1924, as housing spread. Farms nearer Croydon soldiered on longer and harvesting being undertaken during the post war years in those fields nearest to Purley Way, and instead of being sold for housing went to industrial use. This latter stage explains why so many fifties and sixites industries were easily able to establish a niche along the Purley Way corridor.
From Therapia Lane its a walk along the main Ampere Way to the tram stop of that name, however there isnt really much to see of the old SiR/Tramlink route so taking a tram is perhaps the best option. Nevertheless one can expereince what must certainly be London’s worst cycle lane if they choose the walk.
Ampere Way – here must be one of the worst cycle lanes to be found in London!
If one continunes via the Tramlink route from either Mitcham or Beddington Lane, the best place to alight for a continuation of the walk along the old SiR alignment is at Ampere Way stop. From here one can head south eastwards along the Tramlink tracks via footpaths that run parallel to the lines. This provision of footpaths alongside a working tramline is indeed a pretty damn good homage, for the SiR itself consisted also of a double track formation with a footpath alongside.
Ampere Way tram stop on the old SiR route with the IKEA chimneys on the right.
The two large chimneys belong to the IKEA superstore. They were formerly part of the Croydon ‘B’ power station, which closed in 1984. At the location of the present Waddon Marsh tram stop stood Croydon ‘A’ power station, whose cooling towers were used in filming for Terry Gilliam’s ‘Brazil.’
View of the SiR route (aka Croydon Tramlink) by Purley Way. This modern rail line is indeed homage to the SiR!
Power stations and gasometers
As if things were being taken one step further than the SiR, a branch was built from near Waddon Marsh station to the Waddon Mills. The branch was known as Waddon Marsh New Siding. waddon corn mills branch seems to have been built in the 1880’s the branch later proved useful for serving the new industrial estate built to the north of the mills by the late 1960s it had been truncated to the boundary wall of Croydon B
This view from 1971 shows Waddon Marsh. How things have changed! Photo by courtesy of Tony Burnham at Fllickr
The above picture is of interest because it shows the right hand tracks emaluating almost what was the SiR’s route as it turned to head towards Factory lane. The Purley Way by-pass was opened in 1925 and the original bridge can still be seen for it forms part of the present structure. According to Croydon Online the building of Purley Way made the area more attractive to businesses and caused an expansion in local industries.
Following the decline of major industry in the area, superstores began to develop in the early 1980’s. Nowdays there are many of these and shoppers find the Tramlink line very handy for making a visit to the area’s superstores.
The SiR (arrowed) left the Tramlink route near Waddon Marsh tram stop & headed towards the gas holder by Enterprise Close
On the far side of Purley Way, the SiR and Tramlink part company. Just before the Waddon Marsh crossing there is a patch of land on the east side of the line. A close inspection reveals that this patch widens in the direction of Wandle Park so it may be assumed that this is at least a remnant of the original SiR alignment. However its also land that was previously used for the widened section of railway lines at this point to serve the Croydon ‘A’ power station, hence it could be debated this this alignment is absolutely nothing to do with the SiR.
The former alignment of the SiR between Therapia Lane and Waddon Marsh seems in question. If one takes the maps seriously the railway would have faced a sharp turn to the east. In retrospect it appears possible the SiR’s alignment was slightly to the north east to avoid the higher ground (e.g the current Tramlink cutting) then about where Newman Road and Volta Way are, turned slightly to the south again avoiding higher ground. This then gives gentler curvature towards Enterprise Close and Factory Way.
Turning from Waddon Marsh left into this passageway leads to Martin Crescent and Factory Lane.
Factory Lane from junction with Martin Crescent. Enterprise Close’s entrance is to the right.
Enterprise Close looking south-eastwards. The SiR ran along here past the gasometer towards Factory Lane.
Factory Lane by the Croydon recycling centre. The pavement runs along the SiR’s alignment.
The SiR left the Factory Lane alignment and passed through Stubbs Mead in tne direction of Wandle Park.
Stubbs Mead, Wandle Park
Stubbs Mead was the name for the area here and is now an industrial estate. The name still lives on in the Stubbs Mead Car Pound on the right.
To continune the walk as closely as possible along the SiR one should follow the passageway leading off the Waddon Marsh crossing. Almost immediately four passageways meet and the right should be taken. It leads to Martin Crescent. Follow this onto Miller Road and then turn right into Factory Lane. Immediately adjacent is Enterprise Close. This private roadway serves a number of businesses and is approximately the former alignment of the SiR. This headed away from Enterprise Close just a little before its junction with Factory Way, then ran along the latter.
The remainder of Factory Lane as far as a sharp bend some distance further on marks the SiR’s route here, before it cut off at a tangent and headed across what is now industrial estate, towards St Edmund’s church in the nearby Park.
To access Wandle Park and its church, head a bit further along Factory Lane, and then a passageway appears at right. Follow this along the boundary of the industrial estate and it soon arrives at the junction of West and Cornwall Roads. Take the right turning into Wandle Park and on the left are some Galvanised steel outbuildings, quite rare these days. Behind these is a large house (occupied) and St Edmund’s church, which at the time of writing, is disused. Both of these were built in the latter half of the 19th century apparently on land left vacant by the railway. According to Croydon Council documents, the corrugated steel buildings date from the 1930’s. The grass verge area in the park itself by these galvanised outbuildings has trees that are clearly sited along the old SiR alignment.
A check with old maps of the area confirms the SiR indeed had a line of trees along its route and no doubt these trees are perhaps descendants of those that lined the SiR. It was perhaps one of the more attractive streches of the SiR besides the tree-lined section that once ran southwards along Garratt Lane.
Wandle Park: Rough alighment of SiR. The ringed tree is very old. Might be first descendant of a tree that stood by the railway. St Edmund’s Church (disused) is on the right.
The SiR passed in approximately along the frontage of St Edmund’s church. This was not built until the 1880’s so appears it was partially built on land left over from the railway.
Note: The route of the SiR is somewhat disputed between here and Cornwall Road. Both Bayliss and McGow have given different alignments for the railway. Bayliss says the line cut across Stubbs’ Mead and joined the alignment to Cornwall Road by it’s Theobalds Road junction. However McGow is of the opinion the alignment was slightly further west, cutting across the top corner of Wandle Park and joining up with Cornwall Road at the Westfield Road gates. I have followed McGow’s route as this seems to be the closest to the indications made on an 1870’s map of the area.
Surrey Iron Railway pages:
McMurrays Canal / Surrey Iron Railway / Through Wandsworth / Wandsworth to Earlsfield / Summerstown to New Wimbledon / Colliers Wood to Church Lane / Hallowfield Way to Mitcham Jct / Mitcham to Wandle Park / Cornwall Road to Croydon