Bushey Mead

Bushey Mead, Merton

A compact set of terraces for the upwardly mobile, situated between Raynes Park and Wimbledon Chase stations

Hidden London: Prince George's Avenue, Bushey Mead

From the ear­ly 1890s sub­ur­ban hous­es began to appear on Kingston Road – and around the turn of the cen­tu­ry streets start­ed to sprout south­wards, start­ing with Chest­nut Road (spelt Ches­nut Road on ear­ly maps, prob­a­bly erro­neous­ly) and Bron­son Road and then pro­ceed­ing steadi­ly west­wards across a for­mer crick­et ground.

As con­struc­tion pro­gressed, styles became grander – and the more ambi­tious prop­er­ties were giv­en bay win­dows and dec­o­ra­tive flour­ish­es. Although all ter­raced, the hous­es have been described as “real­ly aim­ing to be minia­ture Vic­to­ri­an vil­las.” They had small front gar­dens with rail­ings and priv­et hedges, while the avenues came to be most­ly tree-lined.

The twelve par­al­lel streets were all in exis­tence by 1907, although their com­ple­tion took longer as they were grad­u­al­ly extend­ed south to reach the new­ly cre­at­ed Bushey Road. (Sev­er­al streets nev­er quite com­plet­ed the con­nec­tion, except for a foot­path, and final hous­es have been tacked on to the ter­races rel­a­tive­ly recent­ly.)

Approach Road was added in 1913, link­ing Kingston Road to Grand Dri­ve and thence to Bushey Road. Sev­er­al builders had a hand in the estate’s devel­op­ment but the largest part­ner­ship was that of local auc­tion­eer and sur­vey­or PJ Dixon and his broth­er, who main­tained a man­age­ment office on Approach Road. Devel­op­ment of the Bushey Mead estate was effec­tive­ly com­plete by 1920 – though some hous­es near Kingston Road had to be replaced after Sec­ond World War bomb­ing.

Part of the estate was built on land that had belonged to the parish vestry and had once been known as Poors Wood. This name clear­ly lacked social cachet so Bushey Mead was con­ceived. It derived from Bushey Mead­ows, the fields that lay to the south.

Hidden London: The lake at Cannon Hill Common by Bill Boaden

In his auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal work Some­thing in Linoleum: A Thir­ties Edu­ca­tion, Paul Vaugh­an says that Bushey Mead was a 19th-cen­tu­ry name for Can­non Hill lake (shown in the pho­to above) – but Hid­den Lon­don can find no cor­rob­o­ra­tion for this asser­tion, and it would be unusu­al to call a lake a ‘mead’ (oth­er than Lake Mead, which is quite a dif­fer­ent mat­ter) as the word is an archa­ic or poet­ic term for a mead­ow.

What­ev­er the truth of the lake’s appel­la­tion, car­tog­ra­phers have moved the local­i­ty’s label fur­ther and fur­ther south over the decades, so that on some maps Bushey Mead now appears to take in most or all of Can­non Hill. Often in such cas­es, what begins as a mis­con­cep­tion can end up as the way it is. Future updates of this arti­cle may there­fore acqui­esce in treat­ing Bushey Mead as a much big­ger place than has been dis­cussed above.

In their early years, the streets of Bushey Mead were popularly referred to as the [Twelve] Apostles, a nickname said to have been invented by visiting district nurses. The name is still used by the local residents’ association.

Postal district: SW20
Web page: Apostles Residents Association: History of the ‘Apostle’ roads
Bing bird’s eye view: Bushey Mead
Infrared photograph: Bushey Mead (1937)
* The picture of the lake at Cannon Hill Common on this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Bill Boaden, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.