Then & Now Photos

March 2016

Then:

The Wimbledon branch of the Women's Social and Political Union was formed in 1908. As part of their efforts to secure votes for women, local suffragettes staged public meetings, demonstrations and also took part in campaign marches with the National WSPU, led by Emmeline Pankhurst. This picture shows the WSPU shop, opened in 1909 at 9, Victoria Crescent, Wimbledon (off the Broadway). Here the women sold Suffragette newspapers, china, cosmetics, postcards and a range of foodstuffs to raise funds for their political campaign. From 1910 the Wimbledon WSPU was led by Rose Lamartine Yates, (pictured in the dark skirt) who lived at Dorset Hall, Merton Park with her husband Thomas and young son, Paul. A spirited and well educated women, Rose gave many eloquent speeches in favour of women's suffrage and also wrote a number of articles for the local Press. Like several of her fellow suffragettes, she was also prepared to endure hardship for the cause. In 1909 she was one of many suffragettes sent to Holloway Prison, after a peaceful deputation to lobby the Prime Minister was subjected to violence and abuse from opponents (including the police).

Following the outbreak of World War One, the Wimbledon W.S.P.U scaled down its suffrage campaign to support the war effort. In addition to helping with fundraising and recruitment drives, the Wimbledon suffragettes converted their shop into a distress kitchen, to " supply food to the necessitous at the lowest possible price ". Two halfpenny meals were served daily to those with special tickets from Wimbledon Guild of Help.

Now:

Today few of those visiting this open area off Wimbledon Broadway realise what stood on this site previously. Prior to modern redevelopment work, this was the location of Victoria Crescent, a small road linking the Broadway and Hartfield Road. Despite its size, this tiny street held everything from a draper's and boot repair shops, to a cycle shop, greengrocery, a butcher's shop, an estate agents, coal  merchant and picture framer, in addition to the WSPU shop. This part of Wimbledon underwent a major transformation in 2001, leading to the creation of an area known as Wimbledon Plaza. The Odeon multiplex, shown here, opened in 2002 and replaced the 1930s cinema which once stood farther down the Broadway. Today this part of Wimbledon is a popular venue for seasonal celebrations, food and craft markets. During the summer it also houses giant screens used to broadcast live matches from the annual Wimbledon tennis championships.

February 2016

Then:

Opened in 1912 by Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, the Nelson hospital had an important wartime function, treating local civilians and people from neighbouring districts who could not get beds elsewhere. Staff also cared for military casualties and trained Volunteer Aid Detachment nurses. 3118 patients were treated between 1914 and 1918. Following the Great War, in 1922 a new wing was added to the hospital to commemorate the local men killed during the conflict. Opened by Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Frederick Charles Doverton Sturdee,  it held a new children's ward,  a women's ward, new staff accommodation, X-Ray department and pathology lab. The inscribed memorial plaque can still be seen above the door of this wing.

Now:

This view of the Nelson Health Centre was taken in February 2016.

During the interwar years a  large maternity wing was added to the complex in 1930, followed by a Casualty unit in 1943. Further extensions were added in the post-war era and as part of the newly created NHS, the hospital offered a range of general, maternity and geriatric care.

During the 1980s the maternity wing was converted into a 60 bed surgical unit. After various attempts at redevelopment and the shift to Medical trusts during the 1990s, the hospital became a centre for geriatric and outpatient care. The site was saved from the threat of closure by a multi-million package. This has involved sympathetic redevelopment of the site, incorporating the gabled facades from the original hospital into a modern state of the art health care centre. Working with Fulcrum Liftco and Rydon, the South West London Health Partnership opened the new facility in April 2015. It combines GP and outpatient facilities with retinal screening, ultrasound, clinics and screening services.

January 2016

Then:

Suburban bus services were undergoing a rapid expansion during the period 1910-1920 and many new garages were built to meet the increasing demand for transport. The building shown here, owned by the London General Omnibus Company, was opened in 1913.   During wartime London buses were requisitioned and used to transport troops to and from the front. It is possible that one of the bus drivers, seen in the foreground, sporting their distinctive white uniforms and caps, may have been responsible for driving such military transports.

Now:

The bus garage has changed relatively little and celebrated its centenary in 2013 by operating historic buses along some if its routes through the borough. Just visible inside the garage is a memorial to those local transport employees who lost their lives during the First World War.

The view to the right is now dominated by the former "Lyon Tower", built during the early 1970s to house the offices of Brown and Root. In December 2014 work started to convert this building into flats.

December 2015

Then:

To raise money for the purchase of tanks, ships, aeroplanes and munitions the Government sold War Bonds to the general public. People were encouraged to buy these at special  "Gun Days," featuring displays of tanks and guns to foster local patriotism. This photo shows a large Field Howitzer, with its sandbagged emplacement and camouflage netting, displayed outside the town hall at the Wimbledon Gun Day in 1918.

Now:

By the interwar years the original Victorian town hall had become too small to meet the increasing responsibilities of Wimbledon Borough Council and a new building, designed by A. J. Hope, was opened in 1931. Despite strong public protests the Civic Hall (to the rear of this building) was demolished in 1990 and the former town hall was incorporated into the new Centre Court retail complex.