Sunday, 2 March 2014


New Addington  to Wimbledon  
Wednesday February 26th 2014

It was to be an ‘easy meet’ at East Croydon Station as the end destinations of this tram route are somewhat tricky, and it felt pretty much like early Spring today as the assorted and failed photos of trackside daffodils and crocuses will demonstrate.
There was no pausing at  New Addington as basically the tram we had arrived on departed within very few minutes so you will have to take my word for the fact that this is the main hub for the many residents of this very large development of social housing, much of it actually planned before the Second World War but badly needed thereafter. 

We just about glimpsed the rather random sculptures of birds and a bear before speeding off downhill.  We noticed that the tram really takes advantage of gravity and speeds up on downhill gradients. So it was that we made it to the bottom of the hill, passing Fieldway and King Henry’s stops to serve the whole estate, to the Addington Village Interchange.  On the way down there is an excellent view of the surrounding countryside and the Addington palace/house on the horizon. Delightfully there were signs of spring everywhere with crocuses before the birds got to them and daffodils – everything very early this year especially after last year’s interminable winter.
The tram slowed down to climb the next hill, Gravel by name so presumably gravelly by nature, and through the wooded and shady Coombe Woods.  Off to the left there was an alley bordered by trees almost looking like one of those old and long established poplar alleys  so beloved of the French, leading I think to the Royal Russell School which seems to be in the middle of the woods.    
We speeded up again passing  Lloyd Park in all its glory -unsurprisingly it forms part of the same woods as those round Coombe and Addington. The Coombe end land was owned at the beginning of last century by the Lloyd Family and the elder brother left part of the lands for later public use.  The public certainly use it as there seem to be links for runners, birders and even military style boot camps who presumably exist alongside one another?
Once through the tunnel and past the Sandilands Junction we were back on the familiar route into Croydon – a tram of two halves as Jo said, meaning one group of passengers taking it from Addington into Croydon and fewer boarding it in central Croydon for points west to Wimbledon.
Going in this direction is fine for East Croydon station and the shops, but less satisfactory for West Croydon which is round the one-way loop the other way…progress is always slower through Central Croydon and the timings must be quite crucial for the trams not to run into each other.  Having had a relative who was in charge of the smooth running of the Vienna tram system back in the Sixties, I know that one small glitch somewhere can throw the system majorly and we the children were at the rough end of his temper when he had been up all night after some car had wedged into the tramlines, or even worse a de-railment.  This is not so likely with the better designed and more modest Croydon system so all passed smoothly as we left the busy bits behind and headed out via Reeves Corner and Wandle Parkwhich was looking slight less wet and flooded than last week – it is a low-lying area so no surprise that the next stop is called Waddon MARSH.  I had not realized, as the tram view is very much the back of things, that we were running alongside and then crossed (under ?over) the Purley Way at the point where it is lined by a series of commercial outlets , most famous of which is the huge IKEA.  The road, really the Croydon by-pass has a long history of industrial use and of course the IKEA chimneys, now with their Swedish colours, were once part of one of the power stations 

An anxious passenger checked with one more familiar with the area and she confirmed that Ampere Way was the correct stop. I had thought that this was the UK’s first IKEA but that honour went to Manchester.  The nearby gas holder (the LWB always love a gas holder) also hints at the history of the area. From Therapia Lane the route was new to us and the first noticeable sight was the considerable tram sheds to the left.
From here on the tram speeded up through Beddington, home of the sludge beds, and then cut across a section of Mitcham Common to join again with a rail line at the Junction.  After the peace of last week we had a rather over eager announcement system warning of ‘Sudden Stops – Hold on Tight’ and frequent reminders about having valid tickets/cards to travel . The stops are not controlled and access is pretty easy  and frequent as this article shows.
After the Mitchams, Belgrave Walk promised  something more ‘classy’ but actually delivered a random range of small industrial units.   Phipps Bridge stop did proclaim its proximity to one of London’s National Trust properties.

From Croydon onwards the intermittent companion to this tram is the River Wandle, giving its name to a park and tram stop  and becoming visible from the tram at different points; here was another one.  This used to be a working river, mainly for the textile trade, but has been radically restored and cleaned with this one of the better places for glimpsing it. Morden Hall Park offers a combined experience of parkland and some industrial heritage.
From Dundonald Road it proved to be a very short hop to Wimbledon Station which offered a rich range of options – tram, train and tube. The Tram Route 3 had proved to be a pleasant and green experience skirting as it does some of the larger and better kept green spaces  of South London.

In contrast to bus journeys where stopping, and therefore what you see is dependent on traffic and other  variables, the tram goes too fast between stops to make any meaningful observations, but the distances covered are quite impressive. 

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