Wandsworth is the district of south-west London that lies on the south bank of the River Thames between Putney and Battersea. The name is believed to be derived from the Saxon chief Wendle.
Unlike many areas of south London that remained rural right up to the 19th century, Wandsworth has a long industrial history.
By the 16th century there were several mills located on the river Wandle that cut through the region, and the cloth bleaching and hat-making industries were also well represented - at one time Wandsworth's hats were famous and sought after all over Europe.
Over the next 100 years the iron and copper industries also made their mark on the district, and are still reflected in street names such as Ironmill Road and Coppermill Lane. Other industries that have been prominent in Wandsworth past include fur-making and brewing.
Although these industries obviously meant that Wandsworth was traditionally a working class residential area, the wealth that these industries provided also meant that Wandsworth was a favourite area for wealthy businessmen. As a result for many years Wandsworth had a distinct rich-poor divide, a characteristic that can still be seen to some extent today.
Once the railway arrived in the district in the late 19th century, Wandsworth's wealthier residents soon moved out and the factories moved in. The area was soon more industrial than ever and housing for the workers soon spread over the district.
Today the industrial past of the district can still be felt, but the slums of the past are no more. For much of the 20th century Wandsworth was just a typical south London suburb, but it has undergone somewhat of a renaissance in recent years, becoming increasingly fashionable.
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