Then & Now
Part of the shopping parade in Arthur Road, Wimbledon Park, c.1920
Arthur Road was named after Arthur, Duke of Connaught, son of Queen Victoria. As Governor General of Canada, he was Commander-in-Chief of Canadian forces during the First World War.
The development of Arthur Road began in 1872, when John Augustus Beaumont purchased the Wimbledon Park estate from Earl Spencer and began construction of new roads, intended to house middle class families. After a lengthy economic slump, few plots had sold, however the 1889 extension of the “District Railway” by the London and South Western Railway Company led to renewed interest. The cottage-style station building, pictured just beyond the cyclist on the left, enabled people to commute easily between Wimbledon and the Capital. Journey times were further reduced by electrification of the line in 1905, prompting further housing development. This photo shows both horse-drawn and cycle deliveries taking place between local shops and houses in the area. Amongst the firms, shown to the right, are the London County and Westminster bank; Sidney Richens, wine merchant; the tiled exterior of James Jackson’s butchers shop (later Gardner’s); Burrow’s fruiterers, Alice Applegate, draper and the stationers, post and telegraph office run by councillor Shirl Mussell. He became Mayor of Wimbledon the following year.
The same view of Arthur Road, Wimbledon Park, taken in 2017
In many ways the layout of the street remains relatively unchanged – the Victorian and early twentieth century properties, including the station are still in situ. However there have been major changes in the nature of use – Wimbledon Park station now caters for nearly 2 million commuter journeys every year and widespread car ownership means that parking spaces are in high demand. Property prices have increased dramatically and this is reflected by the number of estate agents operating locally – including one occupying the former bank building near the junction with Melrose Avenue (obscured by the tree.) W.A. Gardner’s popular butchers shop was sadly forced to close in 2014 after trading for over a century. Its Victorian tiled exterior remains but the building now houses a firm of solicitors. Reflecting popular modern interests, the old fruiterer’s outlet is now a thriving cafe the former draper’s is an antique shop. However some features of the road have survived a century of change, including the traditional red post box and the adjacent post office.