Colliers Wood

Colliers Wood, Merton

A former industrial village now hemmed in by Merton and Tooting Graveney

Christchurch Road - Colliers Wood - geograph-2828323-by-Peter-Trimming

Col­liers Wood was first record­ed in 1632 and the name refers to char­coal-burn­ers not min­ers (as is also the case with Col­lier Row, across the oth­er side of Lon­don).

From 1755 a toll­gate stood on the Mer­ton Road (now High Street Col­liers Wood) on the site of the present sta­tion, which gave rise to the alter­na­tive vil­lage name of Sin­gle­gate. Col­liers Wood House, which had been home to Eliz­a­bethan and lat­er nota­bles, was rebuilt around 1780.

By the ear­ly 19th cen­tu­ry mills beside the Riv­er Wan­dle were switch­ing from grind­ing corn to print­ing tex­tiles, an indus­try that soon employed the bulk of the local labour force. In 1851 only a twen­ti­eth of the pop­u­la­tion worked in agri­cul­ture, a remark­ably low pro­por­tion for such an out-of-the-way place.

In the 1870s the 40-acre grounds of Col­liers Wood House began to suc­cumb to spec­u­la­tive build­ing, at first in the direc­tion of Toot­ing, then towards Mer­ton. The toll­gate was tak­en down and the first shops, a school and Christ Church were built. Col­liers Wood House was demol­ished in 1904; its site is now occu­pied by the low num­bers of Clive Road and War­ren Road.

Colliers Wood station
Col­liers Wood sta­tion*

A tram ser­vice began in 1907 and streets of ter­raced hous­es were laid out on land belong­ing to Emmanuel Col­lege, Cam­bridge.

Builders squeezed in a last few peb­ble-dashed and mock-Tudor prop­er­ties after the North­ern line (as it is now called) was extend­ed here in 1926. The sta­tion was designed by Charles Hold­en, whose name now adorns the pub oppo­site.

Sub­se­quent addi­tions includ­ed coun­cil flats, a 19-storey office tow­er and a Sava­cen­tre that was said to be the largest hyper­mar­ket in Europe and has since been divid­ed into a Sains­bury’s and a Marks and Spencer (locat­ed near the bot­tom left cor­ner of the map below).

Col­liers Wood saw a flur­ry of house­build­ing in the ear­ly 21st cen­tu­ry, part­ly because Tooting’s grow­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty increased the desir­abil­i­ty of neigh­bour­ing, more afford­able local­i­ties.

After stand­ing emp­ty for sev­er­al years, the wide­ly derid­ed tow­er is like­ly to be giv­en a facelift and con­vert­ed to res­i­den­tial use, pos­si­bly accom­pa­nied by a new, slight­ly short­er block next door.

At the 2011 cen­sus 38 per cent of Col­liers Wood’s res­i­dents were white British and 18 per cent were of South Asian her­itage. A rel­a­tive­ly high pro­por­tion of res­i­dents are in their twen­ties and liv­ing in pri­vate­ly rent­ed accom­mo­da­tion.

Postal district: SW19
Population: 10,712 (2011 census)
Station: Northern line (zone 3)
Websites: Colliers Wood Residents’ Association, Making Colliers Wood Happy

 

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* The picture of Christchurch Road is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Peter Trimming, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. The picture of Colliers Wood station is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Sunil Prasannan, at Wikimedia Commons, made available under the Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence. Any subsequent reuse of either image is freely permitted under the terms of those licences.