PLANNED & BUILT HERITAGE
The Drinking Fountain
Tooting Bec Lido
Tooting Bec Common Cafe
The Keeper's Lodge
Tooting Bec Athletics Track
The Fossilised Tree
Tooting Bec Lake
Tooting Common is surrounded by housing, much of which dates to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Some remnants of the large peripheral nineteenth century estates remain including the Grade II listed Regency gothic style Furzedown Lodge (c. 1862-1867) on the southern part of the Common, on the corners of Furzedown Road and Furzedown Drive. It is formerly the lodge to Furzedown House and farm and one of the last remaining gate-lodges in the Streatham and Tooting area.
There are a number of historical features throughout the Common which, although not listed, are appreciated for their historical merit and context within the wider Common. These include;
A Portland stone drinking fountain in Art Deco style standing on the corner of Tooting Bec Road and Dr Johnson Avenue. It was built to commemorate local architect and surveyor Joseph James Jones, whose philanthropic endeavours benefited local schools. It was designed by the architect F Leonard Poole and installed in 1938.
Tooting Bec Lido originated and remains the largest open-air freshwater swimming pool in England and one of the largest in Europe at just over 90m (100 yards). It holds one million gallons (4,500 m3) of water. It opened to the public in July 1906 as the Tooting Bathing-Lake and has been the home of the South London Swimming Club ever since. The South London Swimming Club is one of the oldest swimming clubs in England and has been holding races at the lido since 1908.
The Tooting Common café was built in 1906 and is currently in use. The architectural style is a form of English vernacular, heavily informed by the Arts and Crafts movement. It incorporates stylized elements from Tudor architecture, a style that was particularly popular in park structures and domestic housing in the first three decades of the twentieth century.
Learn more about the history of the café here.
The Keeper’s Lodge by Elmbourne Road was built in 1879 for the Metropolitan Board of Work by Messrs Laing and is a good example of Board architecture.
The Tooting Bec Athletic Track constructed in 1937-1938 with late twentieth century alterations.
The fossilised tree on Tooting Common is the remains of the base or stump of a tree. It comes from the famous Purbeck Fossil Forest of Southern England, which formed about 145 million years ago during the latter part of the Jurassic Period. Fossilised tree trunks of this type were commonly encountered during the quarrying of building stones, notably Portland stone. They have been collected and placed in parks and gardens since the early nineteenth century. Naming, classifying and studying nature, including pre-historic nature, was a cultural obsession in the nineteenth and early twentieth century and the fossilised tree trunk on Tooting Common is character-defining feature of the Victorian urban green open space.
The fossil tree was presented to the Balham & District Antiquarian and Natural History Society by local Victorian developer Mr Alfred Heaver. In 1898, the society persuaded London County Council to place the tree on Tooting Common on the north-eastern side of the central lake. A railing was erected to enclose the fossil, and a plaque with descriptive notice was placed within the enclosure.
The Tooting Bec Lake was formed as a result of gravel digging and created as an ornamental feature in 1895. Boating was a popular summertime activity here for over forty years, and when it froze over during the winter months it was a favourite spot for skating.
Three historic tree avenues from the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century, which are believed to have been planted to commemorate visits by royalty, strengthen parish boundaries and provide dramatic viewpoints within the Common in the fashionable formal styles of each period.
The horse ride running adjacent to Tooting Bec Road was established as a designated area for equestrian pursuits as a result of the ban on riding across the Common introduced by the Metropolitan Board of Works in the 1870s.