|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Collier's Wood (TQ266702)|
|Distance:||5.1 miles (8.2 km)|
|Meets:||A24, A218, A219, B285, A298, B279, B235, B281, B282, A3, B283, A308|
|Route outline (key)|
The A238 is an unimportant east-west route in southwest London.
Colliers Wood - Norbiton
The A238 starts at Colliers Wood underground station, at a junction with the A24. Between here and South Wimbledon they run parallel – the A238 is following the original course of the A24, whilst the new A24 follows the line of the old Merton Abbey railway line. Proposals existed in the late 1980s to bypass the High Street section of the A238 completely, by building over more of the Merton Abbey railway line from the A24 to the west, linking up with the current A238.
Not being on the Tube map, Merton is now rather less well-known than its younger neighbours Wimbledon and Morden, but it has given its name to the London borough containing all three. It has also given its name to the comedian Paul Merton – real name Paul Martin – who grew up there.
After about half a mile, we reach South Wimbledon tube station, where the A219 crosses the A238. Originally both these roads started here – the other two legs of the junction being the original line of the A24, with which we now part company as it TOTSOs left on to what is now part of the A219. The A238 goes straight on along a road encouragingly named after our destination. Shortly we arrive at Merton Park, where there is a level crossing for Croydon Tramlink's Wimbledon branch A side road joins here and the junction is signalised, so the traffic lights on the eastbound A238 are very far back from the actual junction to stop traffic queueing on the tramline. Further on, we reach Wimbledon Chase, where the straight ahead route is the A298, and we have to TOTSO to the right at traffic lights to continue to Kingston. Shortly afterwards, we have to bear round to the left to avoid the very low (7'9") bridge over Lower Downs Road, and run parallel with the main London to Southampton railway line to Raynes Park, where another TOTSO to the right takes us under the railway line and left into Coombe Lane, the start of which is part of a one-way loop: eastbound traffic has to go round the other three sides, turning sharply right at the B235 junction en route.
Coombe Lane is very wide, but has cycle lanes added so that the road space usable by motor vehicles is narrowed to dissuade people from speeding. This is important because traffic coming off the A3, which is now close by, often takes time to adjust to urban speeds. The A3 junction is interesting because it is three-quarters of a cloverleaf – traffic from Kingston to the A3 southbound being the only move that requires a right turn. Ironically, this is the busiest move because it is the one move that cannot be made at the next junction north on the A3.
We progress up the hill (now known as Coombe Lane West), passing the site of a Tudor conduit, that fed water from a local spring here to Hampton Court Palace, about three miles away. We follow its approximate line down the hill past the hospital to Norbiton station. Like nearby Surbiton, setting for The Good Life, Norbiton has its own place in sitcom – it was the station from which jaded middle manager Reginald Perrin did his commuting in "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin" – "eleven minutes late: escaped puma at Chessington". The railway crosses the road here by a low bridge. The dip in the road makes its height difficult to judge (which probably explains why the height is well advertised in feet and meters), and the skew angle means that lorries that do hit it tend to fall over to the right – not good news if you are coming the other way at the time.
A couple of hundred yards further on the road ends at a junction with the A308 (former A3) London Road. Unlike the entrance to the ASDA store just down the road, which is traffic light controlled, this is a simple uncontrolled T-junction.