Print

Railway print

The railway, one of the first in South London, came to Wimbledon in 1838 and due to the high ground in the village, it was situated in open country at the foot of the hill. The first railway engine, passed through the tiny Wimbledon and Merton Station, in fields at the bottom of Wimbledon Hill. It came from Nine Elms near Vauxhall and went only to Woking, but it inaugurated the main line linking London and Southampton. The arrival of the railway was a major factor in Wimbledon’s development when the coming of the trains made travel easier, and gradually cheaper. With this link to the city, Wimbledon’s open space attracted families who bought large houses, needing many servants to maintain them and an array of shops to keep them supplied. This photograph from 1875 shows the old railway bridge with the station and Wimbledon Hill Road in the background.

Print

Monochrome photograph

The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club was founded in 1868 in Worple Road initially only as a Croquet Club, during a Croquet craze but it did not prosper until the new game of Lawn Tennis was added in 1877. This new event, initially consisting solely of gentlemen's singles, attracted only twenty-two players and a crowd of about two hundred. It subsequently flourished, hosting Olympic Tennis in 1908 and had to expand to new much bigger premises in Church Road in 1922. The old ground then became the sports ground of Wimbledon High School. The original grounds were situated on four acres of meadowland between Worple Road and the railway line. King George V, who donated the Men's Singles Trophy, and especially Queen Mary were keen supporters and are here seen visiting in 1913.

Print

River Wandle print

The River Wandle, which forms the eastern border of Wimbledon is here photographed in 1914, looking north towards Plough Lane. It passes through four London Boroughs, arising in Croydon and joining the Thames in Wandsworth. It is about 11 miles long and the name is thought to derive from the Old English 'Wendlesworth' meaning Wendle Settlement. It was heavily industrialised in the 17th and 18th centuries with many mills and the works of William Morris and Arthur Liberty. It became heavily polluted and was declared a sewer in the 1960s. The river has subsequently been greatly cleaned with a return of many species of fish including the Brown Trout although in 2007 an accidental chemical spill killed 2000 fish of various species. Now, according to the Environment Agency, it is one of the most improved rivers.

Print

Monochrome print

The National Rifle Association was founded in 1859 to provide a focus for volunteers raised to meet the threat of a French invasion and first met on Wimbledon Common in 1860. Meetings continued annually with the windmill being used as its headquarters. Queen Victoria fired the first shot and the Queen's prize remains the premier award for riflemen. Large crowds each July attended by the élite of fashion, including many ladies, always interested in the outcome of the various competitions including the shield shot for by the Public Schools, or the Annual Rifle Match between the Houses of Lords and Commons. Eventually the headquarters were moved to Bisley 1890 because of perceived danger with the development of the area. This photograph, taken in 1865, is one of the oldest in the Museum collection.

Print

Digital colour photograph

Famous photograph of Wimbledon Football Club capatin and goalkeeper, Dave Beasant, saving the penalty in the FA Cup Final against Liverpool in 1988. This was the first time in an FA Cup final that the goalkeeper had been captain and the first time that a penalty had been saved. Beating Liverpool against the odds was the pinnacle of Wimbledon FC's history. 

The Club had started as Old Central Football Club in 1889, moving to Plough Lane in 1912. It won eight Isthmian (now Ryman) League titles between 1930s and 1960s and reached the FA Amateur Cup final three times, winning in 1962-3 when the club's all-time top goal scorer, Eddie Reynolds, scored all four Wimbledon goals with his head, the only player ever to have done this at Wembley (see Artefact Collection: Eddie Reynold's shirt) . They became professional in 1964–65, reached three Southern Football League finals in the 1970s and were elected to The Football League in 1977–78. They reached the first division in 1985-86 after only nine seasons. They have now been reincarnated as AFC Wimbledon.