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A Straight Line Walk Across London
by Paul K Lyons
15 - In memory of Madalina, Harvest Home, Asda's bakery and some capital advertising
Reluctantly, I must press on along Beddington Lane. I am sad to leave the Wandle (walking across the un-noticeable road bridge, where once there was but a ford) because I know my route is leading me towards industrial estates. On the west side of Beddington Lane, just to the north of the river Wandle, sits the grey, somewhat dour, but sizeable, Beddington Village Hall. It was built at the dawn of the 20th century, with funds coming from many sources. The local rector Rev. H. A. Hodgson bought most of the land, which had been part of an ornamental garden with a summer house, streams and footbridges, for £450 from the estate of the late Dr. Alfred Carpenter, a lecturer at St Thomas's Hospital. Joseph Trollope, who owned the Queenswood property, paid for much of the cost of the new village hall as a memorial to his wife Madalina, who had died recently. And the public raised funds - through a buy-a-brick scheme, bazaars and garden fetes - to pay for some of the cost of the land, as well as additional expenses such as the caretaker's house.
Originally, the building had a stage (warmed by a large stove) which, if necessary, could be divided by a set of revolving shutters. There was a pitch-pine floor and four pendant gas lights. It was built not only as a mission hall, but for 'every good, profitable and wholesome purpose'. Initially, Thursday evenings were set aside for lectures on religion and travel, some of which were enhanced by the use of a magic lantern. By the l930s, the hall was already being employed for other purposes, such as a gymnasium and a lending library. In recent years, it has been in constant use, hired out for social occasions, exercise and play groups, karate, lectures, a loan club, and for dog obedience classes. The Power Centre also holds meetings here. The Power Centre describes itself as a 'charismatic evangelistic church' with a strong emphasis on preaching the 'undiluted Word of God', and as a church wing of 'Wood World Missions'.
Inside the village hall a lead plaque reads: 'To the honour and glory of God and in loving memory of Madalina Trollope (of Queenswood in this Parish). This hall was erected by her husband and family and dedicated by The Right Reverend, the Lord Bishop of Rochester November 23rd 1901.'
Beddington Lane is a narrow busy road, full of traffic. On the right I pass a building advertising tropical fish, and a garden ornament yard crowded with grey concrete and stone birdbaths, gnomes, fountains, statues and pots. Opposite is the Harvest Home. The first inn here was probably built around 1860, and replaced as soon as 1895. Customers used to walk to here across lavender, mustard and wheat fields from Croydon, A. J. Grove says in his commendable 'Inns, Taverns and Pubs of the London Borough of Sutton'. Inside, there is a door with 'Skittle Alley' engraved on the glass window, and beyond it, the old skittle floor slopes away.
I pass a Wickes superstore, but go into a modern white Asda building
for sustenance. According to local newspaper reports, in September 2002,
Asda was fined £21,000 at Sutton Magistrates Court for various food
safety violations by the bakery at this store. As I leave the car park (where
Asda has its own bus stop), I read the banner signs: 'Welcome to your Asda,
part of the Wal-Mart family'; 'Open 24 hours Monday-Saturday'; and 'We are
open when you need us'. Further along from Asda is Bath House Road which
leads to older warehouse and office buildings in the Beddington Trading
Park, including those occupied by Whitehead Transport and Express Nursery
Wholesale (a supplier of baby goods - not plants). The building which says
SEE-U-Technology, however, is empty. Two parked red trailer wagons advertise
'RED-E-STORE - space instantly available'. Two large billboards line the
road near here, one tells me to choose a financial adviser with 'more between
the years' (Fidelity Investment), and the other, with a massive headshot
of Tom Cruise, advertises 'The Last Samurai'.
A Straight Line Walk Across London - along the 300 easting
by Paul K Lyons
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