Lonesome, Lambeth/​Merton

A railside residential locality situated on the Streatham/​Mitcham border, south-west of Streatham Vale Park

Lonesome Way

This locality is usually said to be named after Lonesome House, which once stood here, though others have suggested that the house took its name from the place, which was so called by virtue of its isolation.

Lonesome was once considered to extend quite some way towards Streatham, but the rise of Streatham Vale has shrunk it into obscurity.

In the late 18th century Lonesome stood on the edge of the extensive lavender fields of Mitcham. Lonesome chemical works operated here in the second half of the 19th century, choosing this spot because of its sparse population.

The coming of the railway and early indus­trial devel­opment in Streatham brought the first houses around the end of the 19th century, with residents fording the River Graveney on their walk to work.

Oakleigh Way recre­ation ground

In the 1920s, before the building of Streatham Vale’s church of the Holy Redeemer, Lonesome’s Mission of the Good Shepherd was based in a large wooden shed off Marian Road and conducted open air evangelical work here.

Lonesome is no longer an isolated spot, having been tightly built up in the second half of the 20th century, mostly in the form of cul-de-sacs.

In the late 1970s Lambeth council created the Lonesome Depot Gypsy and Traveller site at the end of Lonesome Way. It survives to the present day – despite the objec­tions of William Shelton MP, who said in 1981: “This gipsy site disgraces the borough. It is a burden and a disaster for the local community. If accounts are true, it is also the scene of bizarre and cruel happenings.” A council invest­ig­ation found no proof for these alleg­a­tions, though there were problems of rubbish and rats – and of social exclusion.

Lonesome primary school is located on Grove Road (at the bottom left corner of the map below). According to Ofsted’s October 2015 report, three-quarters of pupils are from a wide range of minority ethnic backgrounds and half the pupils speak English as an additional language. Both figures are well above average. The school was assessed as ‘good’.

Tooting Graveney football club played at an enclosed ground at Lonesome from 1905 to 1907. They eventually became part of renowned non-leaguers Tooting and Mitcham FC.

Postal district and postcode area: SW16 and Mitcham, CR4