Wimbledon and Croydon Railway

The Wimbledon and Croydon Railway was a railway between those places built to serve the heavily industrialised area of the River Wandle Valley. It followed the course of the earlier Surrey Iron Railway, and opened on 22 October 1855. It was worked by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway which bought it outright in 1858. In the latter half of the twentieth century the industrial use declined, and passenger numbers suffered also. The line closed in May 1997.

Most of the route was adopted for the trams of the Croydon network known as Tramlink.


The valley of the River Wandle was heavily industrialised in the eighteenth century—the most industrialised in the south of England—and to convey minerals and agricultural products the Surrey Iron Railway was built, opening in 1803; it was a horse-drawn plateway in which the rails were L-shaped in cross-section, guiding ordinary wagon wheels. The Surrey Iron Railway was not successful, however, and after a long period of dormancy it closed in 1846.

Wimbledon became connected by railway to London, when the London and Southampton Railway opened in 1838. The following year Croydon was connected by rail to London Bridge when the London and Croydon Railway opened to a station at the site of the present-day West Croydon station. In the following years the London and Southampton Railway was renamed the London and South Western Railway (LSWR), and the London and Croydon Railway merged with another company to from the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR).

There was pressure for a railway linking the towns and serving the industry in the area, and on 8 July 1853 the Wimbledon and Croydon Railway obtained an Act of Parliament to build an 11-mile line from Wimbledon to Epsom, joining the LSWR and the LB&SCR at the ends. The scheme was modified to form a 5¾ mile line from Wimbledon to (West) Croydon. The line opened on 22 October 1855.[1][2]

In operation

At first the railway operated independently of its larger neighbours, being worked by the contractor G P Bidder of Mitcham, who constructed it. The LB&SCR leased it in 1856 and purchased it in 1866.[2]

At first the passenger train service was six weekday and two Sunday trains each way. This gradually increased over the years, with some trains extended from Croydon to Crystal Palace Low Level in the steam era.[2]

On 1 October 1868 the LB&SCR opened its new line from Peckham Rye to Sutton, which intersected the Wimbledon and Croydon line, joining it and leaving it again by two sharp curves either side of the new Mitcham Junction station.[2]

Push and pull working of passenger trains started in 1919, and the line was electrified on the third rail system on 6 July 1930.[2]

Route description


At Wimbledon, the LSWR had its through station with four platforms, and the Wimbledon and Croydon had a separate platform. When the LB&SCR and LSWR joint lines via Tooting were opened, there were two dedicated "Brighton" platforms: platform 5 (Up Tooting) and 6 (Down Merton). The station had its own approach road from the Broadway, and was managed independently, with a goods yard at the north-eastern end.

The line left in a south-westerly direction and immediately curved south-east on a 14-chain curve. The line to Merton Park was doubled as part of the Tooting railways scheme of 1868.

Merton Park

At first there was no station here, but the joint Tooting lines scheme opened on 1 October 1868 formed a junction here, and a station was opened on the Tooting line only; it was named Lower Merton. The Tooting to Wimbledon lien was double track, but the Croydon line remained single; a platform was added on 1 November 1870. Kingston Road, at the north-west end of the station was a very busy main road at the time, and had a level crossing.

The Tooting line ceased to operate passenger trains from 3 March 1929.

Morden Road

Opened as Morden and then Morden Halt, the station was later called Morden Road (from 2 July 1951).


Mitcham had a small goods yard south-west of the line, north-west of the passenger station.

The passenger station is now (1996) listed and converted to offices. Mitchell and Smith say that "A claim has been made for Mitcham as being the oldest continuously working station site in the world, the Surrey Iron Railway having been in use here from 1803." However the word continuously seems to be negated by the closure of the Surrey Iron Railway after a long period of dormancy in 1846, nine years before the opening of the Wimbledon and Croydon Railway.[2]

Mitcham Junction

The station opened with the new Peckham Rye to Sutton line on 1 October 1868. The line from Streatham curved in from the north-east at the Wimbledon end of the station, and the line to Sutton curved away to the south-west at the Croydon end. There was a passenger bay that could be used for Croydon trains.

A little west of the station, a thoroughfare called Tramway Path turns southwards; this marks the alignment of the Surrey Iron Railway's Hackbridge branch.

Beddington Lane

In the later decades of the twentieth century the signalman issued tickets from the signalbox.

Waddon Marsh

The station opened as Waddon Marsh Halt at the date of the electrification, 6 July 1930. A timber island platform was provided. Either side of the station area were considerable industrial plants and sidings serving them; they included gasworks and electricity generating plant.

West Croydon

West Croydon station had been built on the site of the terminal basin of the Croydon Canal. It opened as a terminus for the London and Croydon Railway in 1839, becoming a through station for the LB&SCR extension to Epsom in 1847. The Wimbledon and Croydon Railway was given a bay platform at the station.


The line was electrified on the third rail d.c. system on 6 July 1930.


The last train ran on 31 May 1997 and the line closed on 2 June 1997. Most of the route was incorporated into the Tramlink network, a street passenger tramway and light rail system in Croydon and the surrounding area, opening in May 2000.


  1. E F Carter, An Historical Geography of the Railways of the British Isles, Cassell, London, 1959
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Vic Mitchell and Keith Smith, Mitcham Junction Lines, Middleton Press, Midhurst, 1992, ISBN 1 873793 01 4
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