For a guaranteed seat on the morning rush-hour Tube to the City or the West End, Morden — last stop on the Northern line — is just the ticket. And that’s just one factor earning this south-west London suburb a bunch of property brownie points.
The River Wandle runs through National Trust-owned Morden Hall Park, which also boasts a water wheel, a snuff mill, a wetlands boardwalk, a rose garden, a café and one of south London’s best garden centres, while home seekers will discover a plentiful supply of relatively affordable Thirties detached, semi-detached and terrace houses, many of which have been extended into the garden.
The town centre is dominated by the landmark curved Sixties Crown House, home to the local Merton borough council, which now has big improvement plans for the area. These started with Morden Court Parade, a fine terrace of Art Deco flats with ironwork balconies in London Road, where the ground floors have had their shop fronts and shop signs redesigned.
Morden is one of London’s 20 new Housing Zones and the council is looking for a development partner to deliver 1,000 new homes, of which 40 per cent will be affordable. There are also £10 million plans to redesign the uninspiring high street with a new public square in front of the Tube station, created by rerouting the gyratory traffic system, plus new walking routes to Morden Hall Park.
Thanks to the generosity of the last owner of the park, tobacco merchant Gilliat Edward Hatfeild, it wasn’t swallowed up in the suburban development of Morden. Instead, when he died in 1941, the house — now an exclusive wedding venue — and its park were bequeathed to the National Trust.
Hatfeild designed and planted a rose garden which the Trust has restored. He was such a keen gardener that he is said to have kept his basket, secateurs and gloves hidden in a hollow tree ready for use, and spent his evenings deadheading. Some locals still remember generous children’s parties in the big house. Morden’s other claim to fame is John Innes, whose name graces bags of compost in every garden centre in the land.
Innes developed Merton Park, building many fine houses in a garden suburb setting with trees and holly hedges. The architect for the first of these homes was Henry Goodall Quartermain, with later houses by John Sydney Brocklesby, all very sought after today.
Innes died in 1904 and left money to establish an institution for horticultural training and research. The John Innes Institute started life in Merton Park, where the famous composts were developed, before moving to Hertfordshire and then to its current headquarters in Norwich where it remains at the forefront of horticultural research.
Nine miles from central London, Morden has Merton and Wimbledon to the north, Mitcham to the east, Carshalton and Sutton to the south and New Malden and Raynes Park to the west. Estate agent Hayley Blackwell, from the local branch of Ellisons, has been based in Morden for 15 years. “It is only in the last three or four years that the area has become recognised,” she says. “It is definitely on the up and families can see there is a chance to make money here by investing in their homes.”
Morden Tube station opened in 1926, a building boom followed and the district still has plenty of Thirties houses. In the John Innes conservation area in Merton Park, north of Morden station and south of Kingston Road, houses designed by Henry Goodall Quartermain from 1873-1903, or by John Sydney Brocklesby from 1905-1926, are particularly popular.
A seven-bedroom Brocklesby house in Sheridan Road is currently for sale for £2,995,000, while a five-bedroom Quartermain house is for sale in Dorset Road for £2.65 million.
Three-bedroom Thirties houses are currently on the market for between £385,000 in Garth Close and £665,000 in Arundel Avenue in the Hillcross area, west of the town centre. Buyers are beginning to recognise that value can be added to these houses by extending into the loft and garden. There is the added advantage of off-street parking — something of a rarity in nearby but more expensive Wimbledon.
The St Helier estate, south of the town centre, is a former London County Council garden estate with simple terrace cottages. Three-bedroom homes here sell for £400,000-£425,000 and are often snapped up within a week.
Penmans Row in Canterbury Road is a development of 11 four-bedroom terrace houses by Picfare Homes, with prices from £615,000. Visit penmansrow.co.uk or call 01737 904084.
Wellsborough Mews in Bushey Road close to Wimbledon Chase train station is a gated development of seven three-bedroom houses and seven one- and two-bedroom flats. Houses start at £895,000, with two-bedroom flats at £525,000. Call Fine & Country (020 7987 8777).
In nearby South Wimbledon, Madison Heights in Milner Road is a scheme of 15 one- and two-bedroom flats designed by award-winning architect Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. Two-bedroom flats start at £620,000. Visit madisonheights SW19.com. Alternatively, call agents Barnard Marcus (020 8874 4106) or Caddington Blue (020 7407 6033).
Housing association L&Q has 42 one-, two- and three-bedroom shared-ownership flats at Morris Court in Christchurch Road, close to Colliers Wood Tube station. Prices start at £104,375 for a 25 per cent share in a one-bedroom flat valued at £417,500. Two-bedroom flats start at £125,000 for 25 per cent of a home valued at £500,000, while three-bedroom flats start at £162,500 for a 25 per cent share of a home valued at £650,000. Call 020 3858 3057.
Homes for rent
Jenny Narloch, lettings manager at Ellisons Estate Agents, agrees that being at the end of the Northern line, especially as it now has a night service, is a big attraction. “We are getting a lot of professional sharers. The Willows off Central Road, a large Barratt development built five years ago, has two-bedroom, two-bathroom flats that rent for about £1,400 a month. The primary schools in Merton Park and the Hillcross area attract families. They expect to pay about £2,000 a month for a three-bedroom house in Merton Park and £1,600 to £1,800 a month in the Hillcross area.”
Narloch says most of her landlords are former owners who have held on to their homes as an investment. However, these days she advises buy-to-let investors to look at Morden, where the rental yield is in the region of four per cent, rather than Wimbledon, where investors are lucky to get two per cent.
Morden is the most southerly station on the Northern line Tube. There are train stations at Wimbledon Chase, South Merton, Morden South and St Helier on the Thameslink Wimbledon loop line with Blackfriars, Farringdon and St Pancras services. Direct trains from South Merton to Blackfriars take 38 minutes. Trains to Waterloo require a change at Wimbledon and take about 30 minutes. Wimbledon Chase is in Zone 3, and an annual travelcard costs £1,520. All the other stations are in Zone 4, and the travelcard is £1,860.
There are Tramlink stops at Merton Park, Morden Road and Phipps Bridge with trams to Wimbledon and Croydon, and there are plans to extend the line to Sutton through Morden.
Hayley Blackwell says that good schools are keeping families in the area.
SM4 is the main Morden postcode; however on the northern edge, including Merton Park, Morden strays into the desirable SW19 Wimbledon postcode and SW20 the West Wimbledon postcode and on the eastern edge into CR4, the Mitcham postcode.
Anywhere in the John Innes conservation area.
Up and coming
The St Helier estate still has affordable two- and three-bedroom cottages but Hayley Blackwell tips the Hillcross area, the roads north of Hillcross Avenue where there are 1930s houses, some semi-detached and some in short runs of terrace houses. Houses in the roads closest to the Underground station are reaching record prices.
Merton (Labour-controlled); Band D council tax 2017/2018.
Shops and restaurants
Morden’s town centre could do with a few more independent cafes and coffee shops, although with both Wimbledon and Kingston so close it is hard to see where the improvement is going to come from. At the moment supermarket shopping is catered for by Sainsbury’s, Iceland and Lidl. The best local café is run by the National Trust in Morden Hall Park where there is also a large garden centre and National Trust shop.
Morden Hall Park is the jewel in Morden’s crown; the park has the River Wandle running through it, a nature reserve, wetlands boardwalk and a rose garden and heritage features such as an old snuff mill and stable block. Morden Park in London Road is a large park with woodland, a bandstand and a pitch and put course. Cannon Hill Common between Morden and Raynes Park has a lake popular with anglers.
Leisure and the arts
Several open air theatre events will be held this summer in Morden Hall Park: Alice in Wonderland from 4 to 7 August and Comedy of Errors on 18 August.
Eastern Electrics, a house and techno festival with top DJs Carl Cox and Skream, will be held this year on 5 August in Morden Park.
The local council-owned swimming pool is Morden Park Pools in London Road. A replacement leisure centre, due to open next year, is being built on an adjacent site.
The most popular primary schools are Merton Park (judged to be “outstanding” by the Government’s education watchdog Ofsted) in Church Lane and Hillcross in Ashridge Way (judged “good”). The following primary schools are all judged to be “good”: Poplar in Poplar Road South; Park, in Dorset Road, a new primary school that opened in September 2014; Abbotsbury in Abbotsbury Road; Morden in London Road; Joseph Hood in Whatley Avenue; and Malmesbury in Malmesbury Road.
The following state-comprehensive schools are judged to be “outstanding”: Rutlish (boys, age 11 to 18, with a joint sixth form, RR6, with Ricards Lodge, a local girls’ school), in Watery Lane, where John Major was educated; Ursuline High RC (girls, ages 11 to 18) in Crescent Road, Wimbledon and Glenthorne High (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Sutton Common Road in Sutton. Ricards Lodge (girls, ages 11 to 18, with a joint sixth form, RR6, with Rutlish) in Lake Road, Wimbledon and Harris Morden (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Lilleshall Road are judged to be “good”.
The London Acorn School (co-ed, ages three to 14) in Morden Cottage in Morden Hall Park is an unusual private school; it bans the use of computers, mobile phones and televisions both at school and at home.
There is a wider choice of private schools in nearby Wimbledon. The primary and preparatory schools are: Ursuline RC (co-ed, ages three to 11) in The Downs; Donhead RC (boys, ages four to 11) in Edge Hill; Willington (boys ages four to 13) in Worcester Road; Wimbledon Common (boys, ages five to seven) in The Ridgway, now owned by King’s College School.
Wimbledon High (girls, ages four to 18) in Mansel Road is an all-through school and King’s College School (boys, ages seven to 18, with girls in the sixth form), known as KCS, in Southside, Wimbledon Common, is a top performing boys’ school.
The Norwegian School in London (co-ed, ages two to 16) is based in Arterberry Road.