Wed. Oct 27th, 2021

The history of the London Railway is full of delays, U-turns and maybe-garden-beens.

In the early days, a large number of different companies competed like crazy to secure different routes and make money on them.

It was a bit like a gold rush for tracks …

This meant many changes, routes were shut down before they ever got off the drawing board, and businesses stalled.

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In some cases, these changes meant that cities were promised stations and never got them. In other cases, it just took a very long time.

But in an area of ​​south London, it took almost half a century to get plans for a new line.

This was a new rail link between Wimbledon and Sutton as far back as the 1890s.

A company called Wimbledon and Sutton Railway was set up in 1910 to build a railway in Surrey from Wimbledon to Sutton via Merton and Morden.

Although the plans were approved, there were many fights between the companies involved.

This, combined with the outbreak of World War I in 1914, meant that work on the scheme did not begin until 1927.

At that time, Wimbledon and Sutton were growing enormously as new homes were built, and it was hoped that the railway through Merton and Morden would also stimulate growth there.

You have to remember that at the time, the two cities were basically still rural.

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The plans from 1910 showed that the line would have had stations in Wimbledon, Cannon Hill, Merton Park, Morden, Elm Farm, Sutton Common, Collingwood Road, Cheam and Sutton.

The plans were to be developed by The L & SWR and the District Railways companies, which would cover most of the costs.

But negotiations dragged on and in 1922 new plans were proposed by the City and South London Railway.

It proposed extending its existing line from Euston to Clapham Common to through Balham, Tooting, Merton (South Wimbledon) and Morden, to connect to the W & SR route and then continue to Sutton

But a new company on the site, the Southern Railway, objected to the plans.

Finally, agreement was reached and C & SLR soon began building its southern extension.

Members of the public around an engine displayed at Wimbledon Station, circa 1931. (Photo by Fox Photos / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

The first section opened at the Murder in September 1926.

The line was difficult to build due to the hilly terrain and dams, cuttings and narrow curves were all used to get around the hilly terrain.

Fewer stations were built than planned in 1910, probably due to some of these difficulties, and the stations the line ended up with were Wimbledon Chase, South Merton, Morden South, St Helier, Sutton Common and West Sutton.

Work from Wimbledon to South Merton was completed quickly so services could begin running as a single track in July 1929.

The rest of the line opened in 1930 more than 45 years after the first plans for the connection had been proposed.

The line is now called the St Helier Line and is part of the Sutton Loop, which is served by trains from Thameslink and Southern Railways.


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