Yesterday I went for a spot of lunch and a wander by the River Wandle at Merton Abbey Mills.
Merton Abbey Mills is a former textile factory in the parish of Merton in London, England near the site of the medieval Merton Priory, now the home of a variety of businesses, mostly retailers.
The River Wandle is a river in south-east England. The names of the river and of Wandsworth are thought to have derived from the Old English "Wendlesworth" meaning "Wendle's Settlement". The river runs through southwest London and is about 9 miles (14 km) long. It passes through the London Boroughs of Croydon, Sutton, Merton, and Wandsworth to join the River Thames on the Tideway at Wandsworth.
The river has been well-used since Roman times and was heavily industrialised in the 17th and 18th centuries, and was declared one of the most polluted rivers in England. The main industries then were tobacco and textiles. The river was used to power 68 water wheels, of which only a few survive, such as at Merton Abbey Mills.
Merton Abbey Mills were established by Huguenot silk throwers in the early eighteenth century; there were already textile works nearby from 1667. The Abbey was restructured for textile printing in the early nineteenth century and was acquired by the Pre-Raphaelite artist and textile designer William Morris in June 1881 as the new home of Morris & Co.'s workshops.
The complex, on 7 acres (28,000 m2), included several buildings and a dyeworks, and the various buildings were soon adapted for stained glass making, textile printing, and fabric, tapestry, and carpet-weaving. Morris refused to destroy existing buildings, and adapted them or built new ones.