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MORDEN (Northern Line) LONDON TUBE RAMBLES 


Morden Hall Park is only a few minutes from Morden station. Wander through a lovely park and explore fascinating wetland, then on to a City farm and Merton Abbey Mills by the river Wandle. The whole route is about 2 miles, but allow time for pottering. This walk ends at Colliers Wood station.

Morden Hall Park (NTis full of surprises. To get to the estate from Morden Tube Station, turn left and cross the road by the lights. Go right and then left into Aberconway Road. After the parade of shops comes a stretch of houses, but after crossing Abbotsbury Road you will soon see the long wall of the park over Morden Hall Road. Cross at the lights and go through the gates. On your left is the first of the meandering streams that make this 125 acre park so attractive. Through the arch on your right is a large garden centre in the old walled area where produce for the 'big house' used to be grown. There is also a  National Trust Restaurant. After having a look round here, return to the main path. Almost opposite, is the grand entrance to the stable yard with an ornamental arch topped by  traditional clock and a bell which let workers know when to start and stop work. The yard has now been renovated, and contains offices, an exhibition centre for the Livinggreen project (see below) and a cafe.
A little further on to the right are the charming buildings of the old Snuff Mill, with its restored waterwheel.  In 2012 an Archimedes Screw turbine   was installed behind the old wheel.  This uses the swift-flowing water of the Wandle to create electricity for the new visitor centre in the Stable Yard and other buildings on the estate,  and makes a most satisfying noise as it does its work. Further details of the Livinggreen project can be found here.  
In the yard in front of the Snuff Mill are a couple of huge millstones of the type that would have been used at Morden. Each weighs as much as a large car and ground tobacco into the powder called snuff. The mill itself is now used for community activities. Next to it are some weather-boarded buildings and beyond these a large rose garden. Go back to the mill area and turn right, walking alongside the Wandle. Soon you will see two delicate ornamental iron bridges. The one on the left leads to the formal gardens of eighteenth-century Morden Hall, now a restaurant. (In the car park at the front is a heavily restored ice house.) Return to the Wandle to explore the park and  meadows which are kept in trim by traditional hay cutting. Because of this, Morden is best visited in the spring or summer.  You will see signs to the wetland. This is formed by the flood plain of the Wandle. Tiny bubbling springs abound which provide a perfect habitat for bullrushes and other water-loving plants and creatures. Incidentally, if you have children with you, do make sure they don’t run off the path, as what looks like solid ground may be a bog! The occasional swishing noise you hear in the park comes from trams passing along a line that runs along the northern edge of the park. Again, take care if you have youngsters in tow, as there are two ungated crossings in the area.

If you want to extend your explorations, follow the signs to Deen City Farm. (It takes about ten minutes to walk from the Snuff Mill area to the end of the park - there are several signposted routes.) Once outside the park itself the path goes through a pleasantly wild green area.  When you reach  the tramlines mentioned above, make sure you cross carefully. Soon you will be in a surfaced lane.   Follow this a short distance to the farm.   It's a delightful place where children can enjoy playing in the quirky gardens specially created for them (I particularly liked the summer house with a roof created from plastic bottles) and learn about domestic animals and poultry. 

On leaving the farm, continue to the left by the Wandle, in the direction of Colliers Wood Tube station, about a mile further on. Cross Windsor Avenue to continue the river walk.  When you reach a bridge and pub, go over and pass the 1829 Print Shop, heading left. This part of the trail will take you through Merton Abbey Mills, which was where Arthur Liberty & Co. produced their famous ‘Liberty print’ textiles. 

Several of the original  buildings and the waterwheel (restored) used by Liberty survive to be used for craft, market and leisure activities.  Weekends are probably the best time to visit this interesting spot, as the markets operate then, but there's something going on all the time. The buildings have info boards on them describing their original function and giving the date of their construction.   Several are in the Arts and Crafts style - even though their purpose was strictly commercial.   The William Morris pub, for instance, was built in 1910 as a store for blocks used in printing the fabrics - but it is easy to imagine it as a domestic dwelling.

Go past the waterwheel to exit the site, and cross the major Merantum Way towards an archway. Pass through this and then cross Station Road to pick up the riverside pathway once more.  A plaque records that the old William Morris works were situated here.  The designs of both firms have been influential in home furnishing design since the late nineteenth century. Follow the river until you reach a Sainsbury superstore. This was built on the site of Merton Priory ('Abbey' is a misnomer). Cross the bridge and turn right into Merton High Street, a busy A road.  Go over Priory Road traffic lights and soon you will be at the Tube station. Before you enter, glance across the road to the right to see a brightly coloured pub sign - most cheering.

Photos: (to enlarge, click on image)
1) Bridge over River Wandle leading to the grounds of Morden Hall
2) Morden Hall/
Part of Mill complex (currently a second-hand bookshop)
3) Rear of Snuff Mill and associated building
4) Grinding stones
5) Ornamental stone bridge in park 

6)Waterwheel/Bottle house at Deen City Farm
7) Merton Abbey Mills/Walk along River Wandle
8) Waterwheel at Merton Abbey Mills
9) Pub sign near Colliers Wood Tube station



Please note that if you are travelling south outside peak hours you may have to change at Kennington to pick up a Morden train - usually a very quick and easy connection.

MAP
www.londontuberambles.co.uk 
Morden is just one walk from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings to be found, even in the most unpromising areas covered by the Greater London Underground stations. Usually the places listed are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to click on the link above and see the other destinations explored . You'll be amazed at what's out there!


© DR