*Historical* Wilderness Island is nature reserve situated in Mill Lane by Butter Hill Bridge and it’s run by the London Wildlife Trust. The island once had a Victorian woodland garden, reached via the ornate white bridge, pictured above.
You can still see remains of the old footbridge on both sides of the River Wandle. Everything is now much more natural, but I’ve taken recent pics best I can for comparison (the ivy covered brick entrance is on the Wilderness Island side).
The boy canoeing in the Wandle is called Charlie and he’s probably around 10 years old. He went on to command the 123rd Machine Gun Company and was known as Major Charles Frederick Dingwall. He was gassed in May 1918 on the ramparts of Ypres, which sadly led to an untimely death in 1941 aged 48.
You can see Shepley House in the distance (which stood roughly at the end of where Shepley Close is now – see pic), which was owned at this time by the Dingwall family. Young Charlie is pictured here with his Aunt Audrey.
These pictures are reproduced with kind permission and are under strict copyright of the Dingwall family, and a special mention to members of the Secret Carshalton Group on Facebook for drawing attention to the remains of the old bridge.
🗝 Johnnie is also trying to find this wooden plaque that was on the wall inside the old War Memorial hospital in Carshalton. The building still stands at the top of Carshalton Park. It was to commemorate his Great, Great Grandparents (the parents of Charlie in the canoe).
The hospital was converted fairly recently by a Weston Homes contractor. Do you know this company, or have links with clearance companies that may know more? If you can track it down, a reward will be offered.