Hidden London

Phipps Bridge

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Merton

An improved but still less than popular housing estate in north-west Mitcham, separated from Merton’s industrial zone by the River Wandle. Its sixteenth century name probably derives from an association with a local family called Pipp. Twelve Roman graves were found here in 1983. After 1700 the riverside here became part of an extensive textile industry, led by Huguenot entrepreneurs. The technique of using copper plates to print cloth was pioneered at Phipps Bridge in the mid-eighteenth century. The first significant housebuilding came in the late nineteenth century with the laying out of streets between Church Road and the southern part of Phipps Bridge Road. In the 1960s Phipps Bridge was zoned for high-rise council housing, which subsequently became very run-down. From the mid-1990s the tower blocks were demolished and replaced with low-rise units. Over a thousand homes were built in the space of four years while existing properties were improved in one of London’s largest estate action schemes of recent times. The new properties are managed by housing associations. The regeneration charity Groundwork Merton set up projects with young people to improve their aspirations and help them realise their potential, and worked with the community to create a new park on a patch of derelict land, with a multi-sports and skateboard arena.

Wandle Villa (in background)
click for area map (opens in a new window)
When subsidence affected the labourers’ cottages on Phipps Bridge Road, the owner of Wandle Villa built a castellated and ‘ruinated’ cottage as a buttress at the end of the row

Postal district and postcode area: SW19 and Mitcham, CR4
Tramstop: Tramlink Route 1
Further reading: EN Montague, Phipps Bridge, Phipps Mill and Bunce’s Meadow, Merton Historical Society, 1999

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

 
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