West Barnes

West Barnes, Merton

An electoral ward and an indistinct locality that is part Raynes Park, part Motspur Park and part New Malden

Hidden London: Randall Lodge, Grand Drive, West Barnes, by Graham Hale

The his­to­ry and the iden­ti­ty of West Barnes are entan­gled with that of Raynes Park, for the lat­ter was built almost entire­ly on the site of the for­mer. In the 14th and 15th cen­turies Mer­ton Pri­o­ry owned two sets of barns where the pro­duce of its estates was stored. West Barns (or West Barnes) Farm stretched from Mer­ton Com­mon to the Bev­er­ley Brook.

The farm was sold after the dis­so­lu­tion of the monas­ter­ies and in the ear­ly 17th cen­tu­ry the land was divid­ed between two broth­ers, cre­at­ing Park House Farm and Moat Farm. Richard Garth, lord of the manor of Mor­den, acquired Park House Farm in 1867 and slow­ly devel­oped it as Raynes Park.

The build­ings of West Barnes Farm stood at the south-east cor­ner of what is now Raynes Park high school. Across the road, the first ter­race of hous­es was built in the 1890s and the new set­tle­ment expand­ed south­wards in the ear­ly years of the 20th cen­tu­ry. To the east, hous­es went up at inter­vals (of time and space) along Grand Dri­ve – includ­ing Bijou Vil­las, which are shown in the pho­to­graph above.*

Holy Cross church was built at the cor­ner of Dou­glas and Adela Avenues in 1908.

Com­merce flour­ished in the north-west cor­ner of West Barnes. From 1919 the secu­ri­ty print­ers Brad­bury & Wilkin­son oper­at­ed from premis­es on Burling­ton Road, pro­duc­ing stamps, bonds, cheque­books and cur­ren­cy for coun­tries through­out the world. The print­works has since dis­ap­peared beneath a Tesco Extra car park. (And beneath that car park is a flood­wa­ter hold­ing tank – a ben­e­fi­cial facil­i­ty in this low-lying spot between the Bev­er­ley and Pyl Brooks.)

Moat Farm sur­vived until the 1920s when it bro­ken up by the con­struc­tion of the Kingston bypass and Bushey Road. A sta­tion opened at the south­ern tip of West Barnes in 1925 – and the deci­sion to name it Mot­spur Park deter­mined the future iden­ti­ty of its vicin­i­ty.

In the ear­ly 1930s Syd­ney Edward Parkes’s com­pa­ny, Mod­ern Homes and Estates, bought land between West Barnes Lane and the rail­way line, build­ing mock-Tudor homes with a gov­ern­ment sub­sidy. Phyl­lis Avenue and Arthur Road are named after Parkes’s chil­dren. Anoth­er builder, William Palmer, named Estel­la Avenue for his daugh­ter.

Fol­low­ing exten­sive war dam­age, Holy Cross was rebuilt in 1948, as shown in the pho­to below. The church halls were demol­ished and a new hall was con­struct­ed c.1970.

Hidden London: Holy Cross church, Adela Avenue, by John Salmon

The major­i­ty of res­i­dents of the West Barnes ward are white British – and Chris­t­ian. West Barnes library reflects some of the area’s key minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties by main­tain­ing col­lec­tions of books in the Kore­an and Tamil lan­guages. The ward has a high lev­el of own­er occu­pa­tion and rel­a­tive­ly few one-per­son house­holds. The top three occu­pa­tions here are: teach­ing and edu­ca­tion­al pro­fes­sion­als, sales assis­tants and retail cashiers, and busi­ness, research and admin­is­tra­tive pro­fes­sion­als.

Postcode area: New Malden KT3
Population: 9,862 (2011 census)
Further reading: Evelyn M Jowett, Raynes Park with West Barnes and Cannon Hill: A Social History, Merton Historical Society, 1987
Website: Raynes Park and West Barnes Residents’ Association
Bing bird’s eye view: West Barnes
See also: Cannon Hill
* The photograph entitled Bijou Villas on Grand Drive at the top of this page is slightly modified from an original photograph, copyright Graham Hale, and the photo of Holy Cross church is slightly modified from an original photograph, copyright John Salmon, both at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.