Merton Road, SW19

Road in/near Wimbledon, existing between the 1750s and now

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Road · Wimbledon · SW19 ·

Merton Road has connected Merton High Street to Wimbledon since the 18th century.

Merton Road
Credit: London Borough of Merton
The name Merton dates from the 10th Century, and means ’farmstead by the pool’.

The road formed the western boundary of the 160 acre Merton Place estate. In 1801, Horatio Nelson separated from his wife Fanny. His mistress, Emma, Lady Hamilton found Merton Place situated next to the Wandle River. Lord Nelson paid £9000 for it in 1803.

After his death, Nelson left Merton and its contents to Emma, but within three years, her mounting debts caused her to sell it.

After standing empty for many years, the estate was eventually auctioned ’into lots adequate for detached villas’ in 1823. It was finally pulled down in 1846 - no attempt was made to save it for the nation.

Merton Road became a mix of residential and commercial.

Just after the dawn of the 20th century, Wimbledon entertainment venues were lining Merton Road: the Apollo Electric Theatre (the first cinema in the area), the Wimbledon Theatre and King’s Palace Theatre.

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Merton Road
London Borough of Merton



Wimbledon is home to the Wimbledon Tennis Championships and New Wimbledon Theatre, and contains Wimbledon Common, one of the largest areas of common land in London.

The residential area is split into two sections known as the village and the town, with the High Street being part of the original medieval village, and the town being part of the modern development since the building of the railway station.

Wimbledon has been inhabited since at least the Iron Age when the hill fort on Wimbledon Common is thought to have been constructed. In 1087 when the Domesday Book was compiled, Wimbledon was part of the manor of Mortlake. The ownership of the manor of Wimbledon changed between various wealthy families many times during its history, and the area also attracted other wealthy families who built large houses such as Eagle House, Wimbledon House and Warren House. The village developed with a stable rural population coexisting alongside nobility and wealthy merchants from the city. In the 18th century the Dog and Fox public house became a stop on the stagecoach run from London to Portsmouth, then in 1838 the London and South Western Railway (L&SWR) opened a station to the south east of the village at the bottom of Wimbledon hill. The location of the station shifted the focus of the town’s subsequent growth away from the original village centre.

Wimbledon station is a National Rail, London Underground, and Tramlink station located in Wimbledon. The station serves as a junction for services from London Underground District Line and National Rail operators South West Trains, First Capital Connect and Tramlink Route 3.
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