If you go down to the Wood today

Ninety-ninth post, and to celebrate this arbitrary occasion, I thought I’d blog a bit about something closer to home than usual. Well, closer to home for me. I’m talkin’ Colliers Wood.

Colliers Wood is, on the face of it, a bit of a nothing place. If you don’t live in South West London, the chances are you won’t have heard of it, or at most it’ll be just a name on a Tube map. In some ways, that’s appropriate – the place pretty much didn’t exist until a Tube station was built there in 1926. Had it not been for that, it would probably just be another part of Merton. It’s named after a wood frequented by colliers, or charcoal burners to you, that was uprooted in the 1890s.

There’s one really notable building, and that’s this little beauty:


This building has gone by many names. It’s been called “The Vortex”, “The Brown and Root Tower” and “The Lyons Tower”. Now it’s just called “The Tower” or, going by the lettering above the door, “T e  ow r”. It won’t have escaped your attention that it is, frankly, so ugly that its own mother would disown it. In 2006, it was voted the ugliest building in London – and it’s got some stiff competition.

Developers Golfrate have been talking for some time about doing something with this tower, most likely an external redevelopment to make it a bit easier on the eye. However, in the three years since the BBC interviewed them about it (see link below), nothing has been done. There are no tenants and the building is, quite literally, falling apart. As you can see in the photo, the windows are now boarded up and netting has been applied to the sides to protect pedestrians from falling bits.

Nonetheless, there is hope – Criterion Capital have announced on their website that they’re planning to turn the place into a state-of-the-art residential development, destroying the rotting multi-storey car park next to it and building a replacement for Colliers Wood’s ugly-as-all-hell public library. The project is called “Colliers Wood Island”, which is much better than the original choice of “Colliers Wood Mudflat”.

Of course, for some of us, this isn’t quick enough. Shoinan, whose blog you may see linked to the right if I’ve got the hang of this “linking” thing, founded a group on Facebook called “Let’s Blow Up The Colliers Wood Tower”. It seems to be rather popular with South Londoners, and even got an article in the local paper. Yr. Humble Chronicler was featured in the article’s photo, as was comedian David Cross, mistakenly identified as a friend of ours. And no, we didn’t correct their mistake.

Apparently just blowing the Tower up isn’t an option, due to the Northern Line running underneath. Which is a lame excuse. I mean, “boo hoo I can’t get to Morden”? If you want to get there that badly, you probably already live there, in which case stay home and stop yer whining.

Further reading

http://www.bbc.co.uk/london/content/articles/2006/05/25/most_hated_building_feature.shtml – the BBC pulls no punches.

http://www.criterioncapital.co.uk/development-colliers-wood.html – Criterion’s website

http://te-in.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2237527501 – Make your voice heard… in Facebook form!

http://shoinan.com/ – for Shoinan’s non-blowing-things-up-related thoughts.



Filed under 20th Century, Buildings and architecture, Geography, London, London Underground, Suburbia

3 responses to “If you go down to the Wood today

  1. Pingback: Foulwell and Kingston-Upon-Railway | London Particulars

  2. Pingback: Why I Am Not A Motorist | London Particulars

  3. Pingback: Gone for a Merton | London Particulars

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