Surrey iron railway update

The iron railways of the wandle valley.

The iron railways of the wandle valley [Full image 27kb]

July saw the fruition of two endeavours to celebrate the bicentenary of the opening of the Surrey Iron Railway on July 26, 1803.

Meg Thomas, Marguerite Lee Delisle and Eric Shaw combined to create the new exhibition, which was publicised by the local press, not least the article and pictures in the Post.

Mayor Maxi Martin with exhibition contributors Eric Shaw, Meg Thomas and Kevin Leyden.

Mayor Maxi Martin with exhibition contributors Eric Shaw, Meg Thomas and Kevin Leyden [Full image 39kb]

Kevin Leyden and Eric Shaw combined to create our new bicentenary publication on the history of the SIR, and Ray Leyden exercised his new skills as publication manager to ensure it was printed to standard and on time. This publication is available at 2.00 from the Museum shop during opening hours, or by post (if accompanied by cheque made payable to Wandle Industrial Museum for 2.50 to cover p&p). Most Libraries in the borough should have copies, as well as the Wheelhouse and the Heritage Centre at the Cannons.

We owe debts of gratitude to Young's of Wandsworth for their generous financial sponsorship, and to Sarah Gould of the Heritage Services of London Borough of Merton whose interest ensured the costing for this project got past our treasurer!

These two views of the St Etienne - Lyons plateway in 1829 show that the SIR concept became exported. This line was later converted to steam. Passengers as well as freight were carried.

These two views of the St Etienne - Lyons plateway in 1829 show that the SIR concept became exported. This line was later converted to steam. Passengers as well as freight were carried. [Full image 26kb]

Both endeavours were launched at an extremely successful opening on July 26th, presided over by the Mayor of Merton, Cllr Maxi Martin, introduced by our Chairman, Andrew Wakefield, and with short talks from Kevin Leyden and Meg Thomas. Catering was by Mary Hart, and our thanks to Ellen Eames for organising the invitations, and the wine.

Alan Suttie has continued his campaign to promote the importance of the SIR, both by the fixing of the plaques to buildings along the route (including the old Mitcham Station building, rightly celebrating one of the oldest surviving public railway buildings in the world - but see article below). Alan is also working on the Nelson connection, and we await the results of his researches with interest.

The summer has also seen an animated debate on the use of Stone Cottage as a toll booth for the SIR between Geoff Smith, a welcome new contributor to the Newsletter, and our own Eric Montague. See article below.

Ed August 2003

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