Thursday, 20 December 2012

Postcard of the Day No. 59, Merton Park footbridge

This postcard is a fine example of the “why on earth did they do it but thank goodness they did” tendency. As a visitor attraction it resides at the opposite extreme from the Tower of London or Westminster Abbey – nobody ever travelled to London to see the Merton Park footbridge. Here we see the cast-iron lattice structure in its prime, spanning the tracks of the Southern Railway and connections to West Croydon, Wimbledon and Tooting. The last train passed in 1997 but the Croydon Tramlink now serves what remains of the station. Part of the footbridge is still in existence and can be seen in a new location at Corfe Castle station on the Swanage Railway in Dorset. Note the solitary representative of the regiment of gawkers, posing on the steps, resolutely immobile in his determination to be part of the picture. Merton Park is a distinctive Victorian suburb designed in emulation of Bedford Park but this image, for me is a perfect evocation of South London as a whole – a patchwork of Edwardian semis with long narrow back gardens wedged into the spaces between Victorian railway embankments together with allotments, light industry and even now in the 21st. century a few puddled and pot-holed unadopted roads. 

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