What’s it all about?
Desirable residential streets, plenty of open space, a choice of schools and excellent transport links all attract young couples and families to Wandsworth, but until recently the waterside was blighted by its industrial past. Much of this has now been swept away and replaced with attractive apartments and riverside walkways that make the most of its excellent location. These new developments have lured young professionals to the area and in turn there's been a boom in restaurant and bar openings. Weekends are ushered in with a mix of people crowding the pubs like The Ship and The Alma, enjoying the wilds of the common or buzzing around one of the area’s many small shopping hubs. Basic amenities are covered at Southside Shopping Centre, considered the main town centre, although the redevelopment of the Young’s brewery site promises exciting changes.
- Scenes from Stanley Kubrick’s iconic A Clockwork Orange were filmed at the York Road roundabout in Wandsworth.
- In the years before widespread electricity, Wandsworth was filled with gas lamps, but they weren’t just for lighting. They were there to burn off the dangerous accumulation of sewer gases.
- Ronnie Biggs escaped from Wandsworth Prison in 1964 after serving just 15 months for his part in the great train robbery, during which his gang stole £2.6 million from a mail train. He was on the run for 36 years.
Architecture and property
The arrival of the railway attracted many people to the area by providing both employment and swift transport to central London. Thousands of houses were built here in Victorian times, from large detached houses with gardens to one storey terraced cottages for railway workers. In the 1920s and 1930s more homes, equipped with gas and electricity, were built, and in the 1950s and 1960s the area was transformed again, this time by big rebuilding schemes. At first, low rise flats and cottage estates were built but as these were unable to fully address the housing shortage a vigorous programme of high rise building was pursued.
Wandsworth is now a neighbourhood of two halves, period property and new development. There are roads of fine Victorian and Edwardian detached, semi detached and terraced houses and cottages, including ‘The Toast Rack’, so called because that’s what it looks like when viewed on a map, a series of streets with houses overlooking Wandsworth Common. There are also, however, lots of new riverside apartments with wonderful views – the Riverside Quarter and the Reach foremost among them – and some ex-council housing in the south.
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Eating: Michelin starred Chez Bruce serves modern European cuisine. It’s extremely popular with local residents and has been cited by Harden’s as ‘Londoners’ favourite restaurant’ several years running. For a flavour of Umbria in Italy, head for Il Girasole, or for upmarket Chinese, try The Good Earth. The Chutney is a modern Indian restaurant where the emphasis is on not using artificial colours or flavours, and Doukan serves traditional Moroccan cuisine.
Drinking: The best known watering hole is The Ship, which has been serving ales, wine and food since 1786 at its riverside location. It has an extensive outdoor area, with views over the water and private heated booths, as well a barbecue in the summer. Also worth a visit are The Alma, which doubles as a boutique hotel, the family orientated East Hill and The Brewers Inn. The Hope on Wandsworth Common is a local favourite, and serves real ales alongside homemade burgers.
Culture: Book a tour of the National Trust owned 575 Wandsworth Road, a modest 19th century terraced house made extraordinary by the hand carved fretwork interior and collection of objets d’art. Oil & Water is a contemporary art gallery working with local artists to sell and showcase their work.
Events: The Wandsworth Fringe takes place in May and is a celebration of creativity in Wandsworth, encompassing professional and amateur work of all kinds, from opera and dance to theatre, poetry and workshops.
- The Southside Shopping Centre has a range of high street names and smaller boutiques, as well as a Cineworld cinema, various restaurants and a Nuffield Health Gym, and has benefited from a recent major refurbishment. You’ll also find a Waitrose supermarket and a large Sainsbury's Superstore across the road.
- If you’re more the green fingered type, get yourself down to Neal’s Nurseries Garden Centre, where you’ll find every plant, container, tool and garden accessory you could wish for.
- If all that shopping has tired you out, treat yourself to a visit to Samsara Mind and Body for some well earned spa style relaxation.
- Wandsworth Town Library is open Tuesday to Saturday and offers lots of fun activities for children.
- Wandle Recreation Centre has a gym, sports hall and a range of sports pitches. Pure Gym Wandsworth has a fully equipped gym and a choice of classes, and The Little Gym specialises in classes for kids. There's a second Virgin Active on Smugglers Way.
Wandsworth Common lies at the heart of the neighbourhood and is well used and loved by the local community. Among the many attractions across its 175 acres are a lake and smaller ponds, a wildlife education centre, a nature trail and outdoor pitches for cricket and football. There is also the Wandsworth Common Tennis & Bowls Centre, which has six hard surface tennis courts and a bowling green that can be used on a pay and play basis with no membership required.
King George's Park offers 55 acres of picturesque green space, sporting pitches and a thriving tennis club.
There is a lot of building work happening in Wandsworth. The redevelopment of the seven acre former Young’s brewery includes renovation of historic brewery buildings, the creation of a microbrewery and a museum of brewing. There is planning permission for 661 homes, six public squares, shops and restaurants. The River Wandle will also become an attractive feature with three pedestrian bridges.
Most of Wandsworth’s new homes are along the old riverside industrial belt, including Battersea Reach, which will provide 1,350 homes when work finishes in 2020.
Rail: Regular trains to Waterloo run from Wandsworth Town railway station and the journey takes 12 minutes. From Wandsworth Common station you can get to Victoria in just over 10 minutes.
Tube: The nearest Tube station is Southfields on the District Line.
Bus: The area is well served for buses, with routes 28 (Kensal Rise), 37 (Peckham), 44 and 170 (Victoria), 87 (Aldwych), 156 (Vauxhall) and 485 (Hammersmith).
Getting away: Gatwick and Heathrow airports are both under an hour away by car.
Wandsworth parents have a good deal of choice when it comes to schools. At primary level, there is Allfarthing School, St Michael’s Church of England School, Earlsfield Primary and West Hill Primary. For secondary age children, choose from Saint Cecilia’s, Southfields Academy or Bolingbroke Academy. There are several private primary and prep schools in the area, and for secondary schools, nearby Battersea has Emanuel School. Wandsworth is also home to a drama school, the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, which offers degree courses in acting and stage management, as well as a range of foundation courses.
Please see our schools tab for more information on schools in this area.
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