|From:||South Croydon (TQ324645)|
|To:||Colliers Wood (TQ267699)|
|Distance:||5.2 miles (8.4 km)|
|Meets:||A235, A212, A232, A213, A23, B272, A237, A239, A217, A24|
|Old route now:||A24|
|Route outline (key)|
The A236 is a road that, while still following its original route today, is littered with abundant evidence that it should have been rebuilt into one of the most important roads in South London, the A23-A3 link road.
The road starts inauspiciously at the Blue Anchor Pub in South Croydon where the A235 decides not to go into the centre of Croydon after all and bears left turning into the A236 Southbridge Road, a narrow road lined with Victorian houses. After a little while a mini roundabout is reached with Lower Coombe Street (A212) and the future the road should have had comes into view as, a few yards to the north, the grade-separated junction (GSJ) carrying the A232 Croydon Flyover is reached. The A236 stays at the bottom and upon going round the roundabout the road becomes Roman Way, a three-lane dual carriageway.
With a 40 mph limit this urban motorway in all but name continues past Reeves Corner (its original route) on another GSJ (originally fully separated but now it is only part grade separated, as the new tramway occupies the link road under the A236). From there the A236 Crosses the D3 Jubilee Bridge which replaced the old single-carriageway (S2) Pitlake Bridge in the 1970s, before coming to another GSJ at Factory Lane then promptly reverting to S2 and 30 mph.
The road continues north as Mitcham Road with obvious signs of the planned widening to D3 that never took place, Indeed the original plan was for the whole road from its beginning at the Blue Anchor to a point north of the Sumner Road traffic lights to be D3 as the western link of the unfinished Croydon Ring Road.
Mitcham Road then continues as an S2, wide enough to accommodate a dual carriageway (D2), to the Lombard Roundabout with the A23 Purley Way, the 1920s Croydon Bypass, then as wide S2 to Mitcham Common where the road reverts to a 40 mph speed limit to cross the common, with a cycle lane on each side: this road used to be S3.
The traffic lights in the middle of the common at the B272 Beddington Lane Junction have an odd phasing: this is the first clue of the second failed new road that the A236 should have been, the half-built A23–A3 link road. To find out more it is necessary to retrace our steps to Factory Lane and turn off along Factory lane to the A23 Purley Way where a left turn brings us to the GSJ by Ikea.
Taking the slip road towards Ikea brings us onto to a D2 road then a long roundabout that was built, along with the GSJ in 1990/91. The road continues as a wide S2 known as Ampere Way which was built around 1994/95 after the A23–A3 link was cancelled, but along the same route. It was built as Phase 1 of the Beddington Industrial Park access road and went as far as the roundabout by the tram depot.
The section from the tram depot to the B272 (Coomber Way) was built much later in two phases by money received from local developers. The first phase (Phase 2a) was built as a 600-yard cul-de-sac in 1999–2000 at the same time as the tram depot, and the second part (Phase 2b – extending Phase 2a to the B272) was not completed until December 2002 by Sutton Council, although at the B272 end, Coomber Way had existed for many years as a cul-de-sac. Here at a roundabout with the B272 Beddington Lane endeth the A23–A3 link road. The next bit was not built.
Turning right into the B272 Beddington Lane brings us back to the A236 and this explains the odd phasing at the B272/A236 junction. The A236 straight ahead and left get a long phase, both right hand turns from the A236 get a phase, finally the B272 then gets a phase. Initially, after the new road opened, each direction of the A236 got a separate phase, but this caused long queues and was later changed to the current arrangement.
From Beddington Lane, the A236 continues across Mitcham Common to a roundabout with the A237. At the roundabout, the speed limit reverts to 30 mph, then the road continues over a railway bridge to a traffic light junction with the A239 Madeira Road, and along the edge of the common to Mitcham town centre.
At Mitcham town centre the road splits around the edge of the Fair Green where it multiplexes with the A217 for a short distance on (another) partially completed ring road, before continuing along Western Road for about a mile to where the road ahead is blocked off and the A236 turns abruptly left to a newish traffic light junction, where it is necessary to turn right to stay on the A236.
The road has been realigned here with the "main road" diverted to continue towards Mitcham along the unclassified Church Road. Church Road was once a narrow street lined with Victorian houses but is now a wide road surrounded by new buildings. After about 2/3 mile this abruptly ends and the road halves its width. This is the next section of the failed A23–A3 link road. Following Church Road a little further towards Mitcham, the road bends and has a junction with the cul-de-sac Benedict Road. This cul-de-sac, which is extremely wide, was originally built as D2: one carriageway has since been turned into a pedestrian pavement. This is another part of the cancelled link road. From here the link road should have continued under the tramway, across the A217 at Mitcham Station, and then roughly alongside the tramway to Beddington Lane.
Returning to the A236 at the Church Road - Western Road junction, it continues as a D2 road (again widened as part of the link road plan) to a set of traffic lights (formerly a roundabout) on the A24 by a retail park. The A24 north of here to Colliers Wood Underground Station was originally the A236, for the A24 now takes a new route. The traffic lights are on the site of a railway bridge and the A24 now runs along the former railway along Merantun Way. Soon the A24 forks around the east end of an unbuilt flyover and the half-built GSJ at Morden Road marks the northern extent of the A23–A3 link road works. The extension of the Merantun Way across this junction on an S2 flyover, and then along the old railway to Merton Park Station and the A238 was cancelled after the ruling party on the council lost an election in 1986 where the new road was one of the main local issues.