Heather on Putney Heath
The Commons are an area of calm and tranquility in the midst of the urban sprawls of Wimbledon, Putney and Kingston-upon-Thames in South West London. The Commons comprise about 460 hectares (1,140 acres) of countryside split between Wimbledon Common, Putney Heath and Putney Lower Common. Putney Lower Common is separated from the rest of the Common by about 1.5 miles. Approximately 360 hectares (900 acres) of the Commons are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
The Commons consist of woodland, scrubland, heathland, and mown recreation areas and there are also nine ponds. They are the home to a wide variety of bird, animal and plant life. Being an unfenced Common, the whole area is open to the public 24 hours a day throughout the year. On an average weekend there can be some 10,000 visitors and users of the Commons.
Within the Commons there is an 18-hole Golf Course (played over by two Clubs), cricket pitches, 16 miles of horse rides and the Richardson Evans Memorial Playing Fields covering 20 hectares (48 acres), providing soccer and rugby pitches in winter and facilities for athletics in the summer. There is a large pavilion containing 16 changing rooms with showers and toilets.
Since 1st April 1991, the Commons have been largely financed by means of a levy on the Boroughs of Wandsworth, Merton and Kingston in a proportion relevant to the number of "D" Band properties in each Borough within 3/4 mile of the Commons or in the old Parish of Putney. The Boroughs pass on this levy by way of an addition to the Council Tax on properties in the area.
The Commons are administered by a Board of eight Conservators. Three of the Conservators are Government appointed, one each appointed by the Secretary of State for Defence, the Secretary of State for the Environment and the Home Secretary; five are elected every three years by the levy payers. Elections are normally held in January or February and everyone on the Local Government Electoral Roll living within the 3/4 mile of the Commons boundary may stand as a candidate.
A staff of 23 are engaged in running the Commons, under the direction of the Clerk and Ranger and his Deputy, who, along with the Assistant Ranger & Wildlife Liaison Office and the Ranger's Assistant, are responsible for manning the Ranger's Office, 2-way radio and telephone 7 days a week, as well as their regular administrative duties.
The Commons are patrolled throughout the year from dawn to dusk by both mounted and foot Keepers, who are always in radio contact with the Ranger's Office or the Duty Officer.
The Maintenance Staff are responsible for the routine maintenance of the land and buildings around the Commons
Buildings on the Common include 16 staff cottages, a Cafe, Pavilion, Maintenance Centre, Stables, The Ranger's Office, Information Centre and the Windmill, which is now a museum.