This article looks at the old route used by the London to Portsmouth stagecoaches, around Putney Heath. It includes references to highwaymen, especially my local villain, Jerry Abershaw. It is not my purpose to glorify these men or their actions - they were appalling people, who robbed the poor and defenceless to pay for their lavish and wanton lifestyles.
the changes made...
Several sources have attempted to describe the activities of highwaymen, at Putney Heath. These wretches preyed on their fellow human. I have noticed that accounts have been based around the present road layout, which is quite different to that obtaining earlier.
The top left map shows Putney Heath in 1862 and the top right shows it in the 1960s. Since then the underpass and Tibbet's Ride have been built, as shown in the third map.
The top right hand map clearly shows that, until recently, there was a division in the road just up from the old K.L.G factory and opposite the crematorium. Both routes would have carried two-way traffic, which must have caused problems latterly. I cannot remember if any form of one-way system was ever in use. A famous car, the Golden Arrow, was built at the K.L.G. factory and took the World Land Speed Record, driven by the K.L.G. factory manager Henry Segrave.
A part of the old road has been grassed over, but much can still be seen. The lost road starts in the west as Norstead Place. Then it is lost, showing again as Portsmouth Road, to the east of Roehampton Lane. It shows again, renamed as Wildcroft Road, just before it meets the road at the top of Putney Hill, near the Green Man. The original Wildcroft Road led south from the Portsmouth Road. Two routes, which once ran more than a quarter mile apart in places, have been merged in to one. Wildcroft was a house lived in by the publisher George Newnes.
Some decades back, the present underpass was built, emphasizing and joining two major routes, one from the City of London to Guildford and beyond - the other from London's West End to Wimbledon.
In earlier times, a coach route from London seems to have come up from Putney, where a wooden toll bridge had been built in 1726. The stage coaches were served by two Inns - the Green Man, near the top of Putney Hill, and the Bald-Faced Stag, which was down in Putney Vale. A road eventualy joined these two locations, though may not have in stagecoach times. The name Portsmouth Road may be modern. William Pitt the younger lived near the Green Man, at Bowling Green House, when he was prime-minister of England. He died there in 1806.
An area south of the underpass has come to be known as Tibbet's Corner. The underpass swamped it's earlier location. It is named after a man named Tibbut who was gatekeeper to Home Park. The gatehouse site is buried under Princes Way, where it now curves in.