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A Straight Line Walk Across London
by Paul K Lyons
17 - Recycling Beddington Farm, paying off a gypsy horse, and Prince Charles rides a tram
In order to head back towards the 300 easting, I need to turn right into Beddington Cross, which is the main artery of the Beddington Cross industrial estate. From this junction, it used to be possible to take Mile Road, and go west, directly across the sewage farm; but there is no public access any longer. Moreover, the Beddington Farm buildings and land, which are situated near the corner of Beddington Lane and the old Mile Road, have been taken over by Country Skip Hire Ltd. A high wooden fence protects the waste recycling site, but, through a gateway, it's possible to see large rubbish heaps, heavy machinery beavering away, and skips galore. Only a couple of the farm buildings remain, tortured by the activity around them, including one cylindrical building that looks too small to be a silo and could, possibly, have been another dovecote. A notice-board near the main gate advertises the company's recycling targets: 2002 - 70% of waste deposited on site recycled; 2003 - 80% of waste deposited on site recycled; and 2004 - 90% of waste deposited on site recycled. A green tick is drawn next to the 2002 objective; next to the 2003 and 2004 objectives it says 'on target' and 'aiming for' respectively.
Opposite in the northernmost section of the Beddington Cross industrial estate, an enormous warehouse stands on higher ground than any of the other buildings. It is also one of the only empty buildings. A banner says 'Prologis To Let'. ProLogis advertises itself as a leading provider of distribution facilities and services enabling customers to streamline real estate and supply chain operations in over 70 markets worldwide. Apparently, this plot of land, on which the Prologis building stands, was once used for landfill. A plan to build housing here proved too expensive and/or complicated largely because it would have meant flattening the area back down to the level of the surrounding ground.
In recent years (before the Beddington Cross industrial estate was built in the late 1990s), there were fields here, with wild-grown fruit trees and squatting gypsies. It is said that only the gypsies' horses would eat the fruit, because it was well known that the trees had grown out of the landfill site. The gypsies were moved to a permanent site, but, with the land due for development, one old gypsy called George claimed squatters rights for his horse, and thousands of pounds in compensation. He was offered £300 plus a free move for his animal. He refused. When an injunction was served, and the police came, along with the RSPCA to move the horse one Monday morning, George arrived, finally pocketed the £300 in cash, and casually moved his horse to a nearby field. George has since died, but gypsy horses can still be seen on odd bits of land in the area.
None of the other buildings in the industrial estate appear to be empty, indeed it looks a busy place. Companies here include Connex, Yes Car Credit, Complete Exhibition Services, Pipeline Centre, DHL, CCF Interiors, Charles Barret Interiors, T-Mobile, Fourth Phase and Body Matters (an accident repair centre). An ugly communications tower, with several circular grid-iron platforms, each one of a slightly smaller radius than the one below, carries a score of convex aerials. This whole area, south of the old landfill/gypsy fields/Prologis section, was owned by Phillips and used as a major distribution centre. There was also a television factory close by.
Emerging from the industrial estate, I cross over Beddington Farm Road
and the roundabout that connects Coomber Way with Ampere Way, as well as
the railway line, and walk along the platform of Therapia Lane station.
The trains on this line used to carry coal to the Croydon Power Station
(looking to the south, the Ikea chimneys still dominate the view), but the
railway now serves as a popular and efficient tramlink connecting Mitcham
and Wimbledon to Croydon and Elmers End. The total capital cost for the
three tramlink routes was estimated at £200m of which £125m
was provided by government. The official opening took place on 10 May 2000
at New Addington when Route 3 opened to the public (the other two routes,
including Route 1 past Therapia Lane to Wimbledon, both opened before the
end of the same month). Later that year, on 5 December, Prince Charles took
a trip on the tramlink. In a stage-managed stop at Addington Village, the
tram halted to pick up wheelchair users and parents with buggies. Exhaustive
information about the Croydon Tramlink can be found on the unofficial Croydon Tramlink website.
A Straight Line Walk Across London - along the 300 easting
by Paul K Lyons
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