Roger Merritt's Home Page

South London

I may be biased to begin with, but I believe London is the greatest metropolis in Europe, and I happen to be very partial to south London. From Southwark to Croydon, and from Sutton to Bromley, and everything in-between, I feel like I know it intimately. I know that says a lot, but I really have been all over it--by bus, car, foot, motorcycle, train, taxi, and van--I have covered the lot. I have lived in Thornton Heath, New Cross, Brockley and South Norwood (in that order; see maps below), and on many an early morning, for two years, I drove Linda to Epsom (SW of London) for school/work while she got her nursing degree. That was a round trip of 28 miles through congested commercial areas and suburban roads.

Merritt Road This is Merritt Road (SE4). Out of thousands of roads in London it is the only one by this name, and coincidentally, I lived near it for a while in Brockley. We had members who lived on Merritt Road, so I visited it often.

As a church worker I visited all of our members on a regular basis, and they were spread out all over south London. Plus, I am a natural explorer of familiar and unfamiliar territory. I was always on the look-out for interesting places and photographic opportunities. Driving in London--by necessity--you have to learn alternative routes to get around in case of road construction, or just plain heavy rush-hour traffic. It's important to have multiple options worked out in your head every time you go anywhere, whether by personal, or public transport. I always made a point of recognizing places of interest, such as parks, museums, grocery stores, bookstores, train stations, post offices, banks, markets, libraries, colleges/universities, nature reserve areas, pedestrian zones, shopping centers, specialty shops, national retail stores, fast-food restauants, other restaurants, photo copy services, football stadiums, gardening centers, churches, hospitals, cinemas, just about everything really. Every trip, no matter how trivial, was a mental reconnaissance of all things useful for present and future needs.

South London This is South London looking north from a council estate near Crystal Palace. You can see central London in the distance.

Nothing was off-limits. I've been to all the rough areas as well as posh areas. Bermondsey, Brixton, Deptford, Peckham, and Southwark were considered "rough" but I never had any problems there. You just have to use common sense, and avoid any instinctive signs of danger. On the whole, London is less dangerous than a lot of big cities in the United States. For a year-and-a-half I helped with an effort to distribute food to a group of homeless people in the Waterloo Station area of Southwark. This was initiated by a young lady from Iran, named Shiva, who worked at a Quick Snack food shop in London Bridge Station, and a friend named Patrick. I just sort of volunteered my help and my car, and the effort became a regular thing. It was fun and a little intense at the same time. We never felt very threatened, and actually had an interesting time meeting the diverse members of this homeless community. Some were easy to talk to and some weren't, but it always felt like a good thing to do.

From leafy Richmond Park to Greenwich Park, and many fine parks in-between, such as Crystal Palace Park, south London has a green-side that mercifully attempts to counterbalance the crowded, built-up townships and villages that have grown attached. You would be hard pressed to find a more congenial blend of old and new neighborhoods that have developed over such a long period; such a mass of humanity so evenly distributed. London boroughs never fail to retain a unique character all over Greater London, but there's something about the south, and the southeast in particular that primes my nostalgia pump, and wets my curiosity appetite everytime I think about it.

Click to see local maps:
New Cross
South Norwood I | II
Thorton Heath