Wimbledon and Putney Commons

Wimbledon and Putney Commons

Wimbledon and Putney Commons are a large open space in south-west London, totalling 1140 acres (4.6 km²).

There are three distinct segments -- Wimbledon Common, Putney Heath, and Putney Lower Common. The last is separated from the rest of the Common by about 1.5 miles (2.4km) of built-up area.


The Commons are legally protected by the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Act of 1871 from being enclosed or built upon. They are for the benefit of local people for informal recreation and the preservation of natural flora and fauna. The Commons are the largest expanse of heathland in the London area. There is an area of bog with unique flora. The western slopes, which lie on London Clay, support mature mixed woodland. The Commons are also a flagship site for the [stag beetle] Wimbledon common is also a breeding ground for many scummy chavs.

Most of the Commons are a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation which is an important European designation. English Nature work with the Conservators on the management plan for the area.

The Commons are administered by eight Conservators, five of whom are elected triennially and the remaining three are appointed by three government departments: Department of the Environment, Ministry of Defence and the Home Office. The Commons are managed by the Clerk and Ranger who is supported by a Deputy, a Wildlife Liaison Officer and a PA. There are seven Keepers (who deal with public safety and security), three groundsmen (for the playing fields), seven maintenance workers and one property maintenance worker - comprising some 22 employees in total. There are at least four horses which are used by the Keepers on mounted patrol.

The Conservators are responsible for the annual budget of around £1m. Most of the revenue comes from an annual levy on houses within ¾ mile (1.2 km) of the Commons. The levy payers are entitled to vote for the five elected Conservators. The levy payers fall within three London boroughs: Merton, Wandsworth (which includes Putney) and Kingston.

A windmill stands near the centre of Wimbledon Common (see picture), distinguished by being the place where Robert Baden-Powell wrote parts of Scouting for Boys, which was published in 1908.

Because of its elevation, from 1796 to 1816 Putney Heath hosted a station in the shutter telegraph chain which connected the Admiralty in London to its naval ships in Portsmouth.

Two broad, shallow pools, Kingsmere and Rushmere, lie near roads on the higher parts of Wimbledon Common and seem to be the result of gravel extraction. The more remote Queensmere is somewhat deeper, being impounded in a small valley.

Beverley Brook runs along the western edge of Wimbledon Common.

The part of the 'Beverley Brook Walk' (a local walking route) which crosses Wimbledon Common can conveniently be picked up by walking from Coombe Lane along Beverley Avenue (a turning off Coombe Lane, close to where Coombe Lane crosses the A3). The pedestrian route is clearly signposted at the bottom end (i.e. the north end) of Beverley Avenue. (Ignore the sign at the south end of Beverley Avenue which is pointing towards the A3 and presently suggests that the route is away from Beverley Avenue rather than along Beverley Avenue). That public right of way passes along the edge of playing fields, and then onto Wimbledon Common itself.

Old Central School, situated in the south west of Wimbledon Common, provided a former pupils football team in the late 19th century which played on the common and used the "Fox and Grapes" public house as a changing room. At first called "The Old Centrals", this club later became Wimbledon F.C.

Lower Putney Common hosted Fulham F.C.'s home games in the 1885/1886 season.

Today, as well as being a fine place for dog walking, joggers and ramblers, the Common is home to The Wimbledon Common Golf Club and The London Scottish Golf Club. It also is the base for Thames Hare and Hounds, the oldest cross country running club in the world. As it is popular with runners a weekly run is held there called the Wimbledon Common Time Trial.

In fiction

The Common is home to The Wombles, the children's TV characters. It is also featured in the novel The Wimbledon Poisoner by Nigel Williams, the climax of which occurs in the windmill. The TARDIS briefly stops there at the end of the "Doctor Who" serial "The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve".

Nearby Places

*Richmond Park
*Raynes Park

Photo Gallery

External links

* [http://www.wpcc.org.uk/ Wimbledon & Putney Commons Conservators]
* [http://www.thameshareandhounds.org.uk/ Thames Hare and Hounds Cross Country Club]
* [http://www.wctimetrial.net/ Wimbledon Common Time Trial]
* [http://www.ledr.com/acts/wpca/1871024.htm The Wimbledon and Putney Commons Act 1871]

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