St Anne's Church, Wandsworth
Wandsworth is a large town in Surrey, deep within the metropolitan conurbation stretching our from London. It is stands on the south bank of the River Thames, to the west of Clapham and, to the east of Putney. The Greater London Authority in its London Plan identifies Wandsworth as one of the 35 "major centres" in its area.
Name of the town
Wandsworth appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Wandesorde and Wendelesorde. This means 'enclosure of Wændel', presumably a local chieftain. Another theory is that the town takes its name from the Wandsworth takes its name from the River Wandle, which enters the Thames at Wandsworth, though others say that the Wandle's name is a back-formation from Wandsworth, or that the two names have a common source.
Shape of the town
There is a band of small and expensive terraced housing (known as The Tonsleys) behind Old York Road — the former centre of old Wandsworth — rising to an area of grander, terraced, semi-detached and detached housing along the roads bounded by West Side Wandsworth Common, Earlsfield Road and East Hill. In contrast, at the base of East Hill is a collection of high-rise council blocks.
The River Front is a former wharf area, and now a long river walk towards Battersea Village and the West End. It is now lined with new apartment blocks, with several bars and restaurants. Notable pubs include The Ship Inn near Wandsworth Bridge. The Waterfront on Battersea Reach is a very large bar with excellent view towards Chelsea Harbour.
Wandsworth Common is set back from the river, at the top of East Hill, containing an area known locally as "the Toast Rack" that has some of the most expensive townhouses in London across from Bellevue Road containing several boutiques and the famous restaurant Chez Bruce, formerly Harveys, where chef Gordon Ramsay learned his trade, and which co-owner Bruce Poole gained a Michelin star in 1999. The area also contains one of Wandsworth's most impressive buildings, the Royal Victoria Patriotic Building, which now contains flats, a theatre school and the "Le Gothique" restaurant.
The Tonsleys/Old York Road is a residential area of old Wandsworth close to the river and town centre, so called because many of the street names have the word "Tonsley" included. It has a village feel with the Old York Road's cafes and shops at its heart. The area contains three notable pubs, the Royal Standard, the East Hill and The Alma. Brady's Fish Restaurant serves traditional fish and chips. The area was recently used as the location for the BBC TV series Outnumbered. Houses in this area, although small, sell from £600,000 to over £1 million, and are desired because they retain their Victorian character and are in close proximity to the Wandsworth Town train station. The houses are very popular with city workers, lawyers, advertising executives and other professionals.
East Hill is an area of Large Victorian houses bordered by the west side of Wandsworth Common. The De Morgan Centre houses a collection of Victorian artwork.
Wandsworth High Street is a rather traffic-choked street, picking up much of the traffic from the A3, the High Street is dominated by the recently regenerated Southside shopping centre, cinema and restaurant complex (formerly, and still and more commonly, referred to as the Arndale Centre). Behind the shopping centre, and following the River Wandle upstream towards Earlsfield and further south to Wimbledon, is King George's Park which is home to picturesque ponds, tennis courts, football pitches and cycle paths. Wandsworth Museum occupies the former Victorian library in West Hill having been relocated here in 2007. A green plaque to commemorate aviation pioneer Alliott Verdon Roe, founder of the Avro aircraft company, was unveiled by Wandsworth Council and members of the Verdon-Roe family beside the A3 close to Wandsworth Fire Station on the site of Roe's first workshop in the stables of his brother's house at 47, West Hill.
Wandsworth was held partly by William, son of Ansculfy, and partly by St Wandrille's Abbey. Its Domesday assets were 12 hides, with 5½ ploughs and 22 acres of meadow. It rendered £9. Since at least the early 16th century, Wandsworth has offered accommodation to consecutive waves of immigration, from Protestant Dutch metalworkers fleeing persecution in the 1590s to recent Eastern Europeans.
The heart of Wandsworth, between the town centre and the river, is the site of Young & Co's Ram Brewery. Traditional draught beer was produced on the site for 425 years starting from 1581, which made the Ram Brewery the oldest site in Britain at which beer had been brewed continuously. Brewery drays drawn by shire horses were still used to deliver beer to local pubs. However, brewing stopped in September 2006 when Young & Co merged its operations with Charles Wells of Bedford. A new use for the site is being discussed. Young & Co still has its headquarters in Wandsworth.
Wandsworth gas works was built in 1834 beside the River Thames near Wandsworth Bridge. The undertaking became the Wandsworth and Putney Gaslight and Coke Company in 1854 and was incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1856. Coal for making coal gas was brought by sea from County Durham and unloaded on the Thames beside the gasworks. The undertaking grew by a series of mergers and takeovers so that by 1936 it served a considerable area of south-west London. The company's name evolved each time it merged with or took over neighbouring gas undertakings, but from 1936 it was the Wandsworth and District Gas Company. The company was nationalised in 1949 and became part of the South Eastern Gas Board.
- Wandsworth Town
- Wandsworth Common
- Mayor of London (February 2008). "London Plan (Consolidated with Alterations since 2004)". Greater London Authority. http://www.london.gov.uk/thelondonplan/docs/londonplan08.pdf.
- Oxford Dictionary of British Place Names. p 482.
- "Time Out" London for Londoners. London: Ebury Publishing. 2006. ISBN 978-1-904978-52-7.
- Surrey Domesday Book
- "Wandsworth and District Gas Company". Access to Archives. The National Archives. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/records.aspx?cat=1866-sewnd&cid=0#0. Retrieved 18 June 2011.