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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The windmill on Wimbledon Common in February 2005
A map of Wimbledon common from 1944

Wimbledon and Putney Commons are a large open space in south-west London, totalling 460 hectares (1140 acres).[1]

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 (2.4 km) of built-up area.

Contents

History

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.

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.

Putney Heath was the venue for the 1809 duel between Cabinet ministers George Canning and Lord Castlereagh.

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.

Sports and recreation

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.

Hampton and Richmond Borough Juniors FC (Colts section of Hampton and Richmond Borough FC of the Conference League) play their home matches at the Richmond Park entrance/Robin Hood roundabout corner of the common on Sunday mornings.

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. The first University Golf Match was played on Wimbledon Common in 1878, courtesy of the LSGC. It also is the base for Thames Hare and Hounds, the oldest cross country running club in the world. Wimbeldon common golf club play golf on the common and has done for 100 years. Annually Thames Hare and Hounds host the 1st team (Blues) Varsity cross-country match between Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

Wimbldon Common hosts the Wimbledon Common parkrun (formerly Wimbledon Common Time Trial), a 5-km run that takes place every Saturday morning at 9am in Wimbledon Common, Merton. It was introduced by parkrun after the success of Bushy parkrun. taken place every week since January 6, 2007. It is entirely run by volunteers, and is free to enter. Wimbledon Common parkrun is highly rated by the runners who have taken part in it, with a 96% overall rating and 100% reporting that they would take part again, in the Runners World running event survey.[2] The event is reported on a weekly basis by the local press,[3] and the parkrun phenomenon is gaining national exposure.[4]

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, while Iris Wildthyme - a character from the BBC Doctor Who book series - travels in a TARDIS which is disguised as the Number 22 bus to Putney Common.

The Common is one setting of HG Wells' War of the Worlds.

In the news

Wimbledon Common suffered a drop in popularity and increased concerns for public safety in 1992 as a result of the Rachel Nickell murder case.[5] The public was asked to avoid walking on the common alone, particularly single women. Many stories also began to propagate about strange people on the common—particularly late at night, when it was used as a short-cut by students attending the Roehampton Institute (now Roehampton University). There were also two rapes on Wimbledon Common / Putney Common in 2002.[6]

Nearby places

Photo gallery

Near Windmill
Windmill Cafe
War Memorial
Rushmere Pond
Queensmere
Ranger's Lodge

External links

References


Coordinates: 51°25′47″N 0°14′18″W / 51.42972°N 0.23833°W / 51.42972; -0.23833


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