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Merton Civic Centre

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by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published January 11th 2014
Home of our Heritage
merton civic centre
Merton Civic Centre


Designed by A. Green ARIBA in 1959, the Civic Centre is the one stop shop for residents of the London Borough of Merton to get help with benefits, council tax, planning, and the environment. It is also a place tat holds a wealth of historical information to aid students and the just plain curious. An educational hotspot in the centre of town, the Civic Centre was actually once a supermarket and a block of offices under the name Crown House. Merton Council acquired the building in 1980, gave it a full refurbishment, and turned it into a reference library, archiving all the material on the borough's past.

merton civic centre, london borough of merton, map
Map of the London Borough of Merton


There are two main areas on the ground floor. First is the section where residents can deal with all their housing and financial issues. It has a large open floor space, but still provides plenty of seating and desks to work at. If you are ever waiting in line for something, then you can draw your attention to a full-body portrait of the Queen. Hanging high up on the wall, it adds to her sense of regency, but the way she is casually sitting on a, with a rare twinge of the lips makes her feel approachable, and like you are being looked after rather than impinged upon.



This is likely to be just the opposite of how you would have felt back in the eighteenth century under George II, whose Grant of Arms can be seen in a display case opposite. Above the door is Merton Council's Coat of Arms. With the motto, 'stand fast in honour and strength', this regal looking shield has several points of interest. The double headed eagle is a symbol of Julius Caesar, and while there is no evidence that the Roman Emperor had anything to do with Merton, the names Caesar's Camp and Caesar's Well on Wimbledon Common suggest some connection.

merton library
Image from arena.yourlondonlibrary.net


Merton Library is made up of three levels. On the ground floor you will find the fiction section, which also stores audio books, DVDs, and a trophy cabinet full of photographs and awards won by the borough's football clubs over the years. There is also a spacious children's section. The walls are light, bright, and depict and underwater scene full of sea animals. There are low tables for youngsters to play and read at, and a more formal area for doing homework or using computers.

Non-fiction is on the first floor, along with magazines, and newspapers printed in Arabic. In the computing section I was amused by all the '...for Dummies' books that you can now get. There used to be a time when these guides were just for Microsoft Office software. Now there's iPads for Dummies, and even Galaxy Note for Dummies.

The first floor also has a coffee shop with a daily changing menu. On Friday they were serving battered pollock, vegetable quiche, and soup of the day.

merton library, merton civic centre, heritage centre
Image from rena.yourlondonlibrary.net


On the second floor is where you will find all the information about Merton's heritage. People who are just interested in an overall history can read through the bulletin boards, which are filled with notes and black and white photos. Those intending to do a more intensive study can get out books and archival material. There are also display cases of historical objects, including a pair of ladies' white gloves and shoes.

The library holds various events that you can attend in January:

Scrabble Club - Mondays, 10.30am

Falun Dafa (meditation & exercise) - Tuesdays, 5.15pm

Crafts - Wednesdays, 10.30am

Knitting - Wednesdays, 12.30pm

Story Time - Wednesdays, 4pm

Read Out Loud (for children) - Saturdays, 12pm

Homework Help - Saturday, 2pm

Table Games - 14th & 28th January, 10am

Reading Group - 18th January, 3pm


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Phone: 020 8545 3837/4141
Website: merton.gov.uk
Where: London Road, Morden
Cost: Free to visit, some services are paid for
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