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Light industrial enclave located beside the River Wandle, where Tooting meets Wimbledon. The street named Summerstown links Plough Lane with Garratt Lane. From the late Middle Ages there were mills beside the river, which frequently flooded the area. ‘Dutchmen’ are recorded as manufacturing brass plates for kettles and frying pans around 1631 and there is also evidence of Huguenot silk weaving and wig-making here. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the hamlet provided labour for the Wandle’s mills. The writer and poet Edward Thomas cycled through Summerstown just before the outbreak of the First World War and described the scene in his evocative travelogue In Pursuit of Spring. “The main part visible was twenty acres of damp meadow. On the left it was bounded by the irregular low buildings of a laundry, a file and tool factory, and a chamois-leather mill; on the right by the dirty backs of Summerstown. On the far side a neat, white, oldish house was retiring amid blossoming fuit trees under the guardianship of several elms, and the shadow of those two tall red chimneys of the electricity works... A mixture of the sordid and the delicate in the whole was unmistakable.” Summerstown’s Romanesque parish church of St Mary was completed in 1920 and is now grade II listed. Wimbledon, Lambeth and Streatham cemeteries are to the west, south and east respectively. There’s greyhound racing at Wimbledon stadium. Summerstown has absorbed the former hamlet of Garratt, and is now itself being lost within Earlsfield. Contemporary housebuilders in the Garratt Green area claim that this is Earlsfield, despite the SW17 address.

Gothic House, Summerstown
Summerstown's Gothic House improbably pairs Carlos Café with the Tooting Conservative Association

Marc Feld, later to become Marc Bolan, moved with his family to one of the new Sun Cottages in Summerstown in 1962. This was a comedown from the street cred he had enjoyed when living in Stoke Newington and he spent as much time as possible in the clubs of Soho.

Postal district: SW17

Wimbledon stadium website

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

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