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Transport

The key to Wimbledon's development was the excellent public transport system that grew up in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Wimbledon had no public transport at all until the end of the 18th century - it was necessary to walk to Merton or Roehampton to get the stage coaches from London to Portsmouth and Chichester. Only in 1790 did a direct coach service to London start. It left three days a week at 3pm from the High Street heading for Charing Cross. More frequent services to the city soon followed.

Wimbledon's population grew as transport expanded. In the 1850's horse-drawn omnibuses began running to St. Pauls via Putney Bridge at a fare of one shilling (5p). These were enclosed carts with two rows of seats and an entrance at the rear. From 1860 the London & General Company started a service to the City via Battersea with a journey time of nearly two hours.

The railway first came to Wimbledon in 1838 running from Nine Elms near Vauxhall to Woking. The journey into town from Nine Elms still had to be completed by cab or river steamer until Waterloo Station was opened in 1848. "Railway Mania" swept the country in the second half of the century and between 1855 and 1889 the number of lines running through Wimbledon multiplied. There were intense rivalries and infrequent examples of cooperation between the companies, usually around gaining access to one of the limited number of terminals in London. Smaller operators were swallowed up but by the end of the century Wimbledon was well connected with central London and the southern suburbs.

However, although railways were important, they could not provide affordable daily transport for ordinary people. Mass transport only became possible at the turn of the century with the advent of the electric tram with the first route arriving in Wimbledon in 1907. The London United Tramways line started in Hampton Court heading for Tooting via Kingston, Malden and Raynes Park. By 1922 it was possible to travel all the way to Victoria Embankment without changing trams at a fare of 4d (1.5p) - or 1d workmen's fare before 7am. On the railways mean while, electric trains were introduced on the District Line in 1905 and on most other lines through the 1920's.