Wandsworth Town Conservation Area, London Borough of Wandsworth: Historic Area Assessment

Author(s): Geraint Franklin

Wandsworth is today an inner suburb of south-west London on the south bank of the River Thames. It is an area characterised by a rich, diverse and dense historic townscape, although 20th century interventions have left parts fragmented. The village thrived as an industrial settlement firstly because of its location on two of London’s major trade arteries (the Kingston road and the river Thames) and secondly due to the river Wandle, a clean, fast-flowing source of water power. Improved transport and communications (postal deliveries, coach services, new Thames crossings, railways and trams) attracted new and mechanised industries in the 19th century. By the second half of the 19th century Wandsworth could offer increased mobility, white-collar jobs and an abundance of terraced workers’ housing. But it is doubtful whether the term suburb, with its connotations of economic dependency on the metropolitan centre and a commute to a distant source of employment, could adequately describe Wandsworth prior to the decline of its core industries in the second half of the 20th century. Whilst the town has always enjoyed trade and transport links with London, for much of its history it has maintained a strong if not self-sufficient local economy, providing employment for many of its residents mostly through a diverse and resilient industrial base. It has represented, at various times, an industrial, commercial and political centre for outlying districts. The Wandsworth Town Conservation Area was designated in 1984 by the London Borough of Wandsworth and extended in 1989. The built heritage making up the Conservation Area represents a diverse mix of types, forms, periods and characters, from detached 18th-century town houses, to piecemeal rebuilding of buildings occupying the the narrow plots of the village core. The parish church of All Saints, the Wandle bridge and Ram Brewery occupy focal points on the sinuous and busy Wandsworth High Street; contrast is provided by quiet side lanes, backlands plots and low-density i

Report Number:
Research Department Reports
Building Recording


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