In 1937 the Mitcham Borough Council proposed to widen the London Road, from Church Path to Gorringe Park Avenue. They wanted to make it 44 feet wide, which would allow its division into twin carriageways with island refuges.
Land would be bought and buildings were to be demolished. The Town Clerk read out the plans in the Borough Minutes of 14th January 1937.
A dairy at number 356 was to remain but numbers 358 to 360 had to go. Land was to be taken from the cricket green opposite Vestry Hall. The Borough Engineer’s Supplementary Report said that it would cost an estimated £9,000 to build a replacement Bucks Head pub which would be given to the brewery when the existing one was be demolished. Land was to be taken from the Holborn Schools, and forecourts of numbers 182 to 200, with the widening north of the Swan to be taken from the Figges Marsh.
Protest groups lodged their complaints of the scheme.
On 8th March 1937 the Council met to discuss the letters submitted by Mitcham Cricket Club, Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society, the Mitcham and District Chamber of Commerce and the Cricket Club Conference. These groups protested the incursion into the cricket green and it was the Common, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society, that drew attention to the provisions of the Mitcham Urban District Council Act, 1923. The Town Clerk said he had passed this point onto the counsel for the Urban District Councils Association. In other words the council sought legal advice.
The advice the Borough Council received was that taking land from the cricket green was illegal. The Town Clerk instructed the Borough Engineer to come up with an alternative. On 2nd April 1937 he reported back that it was impossible.
The scheme was abandoned.
From the Mitcham Borough Council Minutes
November 1936 to October 1937
14th January 1937
I lay before you plans and estimates for the widening of London Road from Church Path to Gorringe Park Avenue. The widening of this road forms part of the Council’s Five Year Programme for the years 1937-8, 1938-9 and 1939-40. A carriageway 44 feet in width is proposed, to allow of the division into twin carriageways with island refuges.
The property at 356, London Road, occupied as a dairy, is to remain, and the footway at this point will be 8 feet wide instead of the normal width of 10 feet. The widening will necessitate the demolition of numbers 358 to 380, London Road.
Widening is continued along the Cricket Green frontage, where are footway is proposed 6 feet in width and also on the west side of the road, commencing at the Town Hall, the necessary land being taken from the Lower Green, with a footway 10 feet wide.
Between Lower Green East and the Fair Green the widening is wholly on the west side, the buildings involved being numbers 274 to 286.
The existing carriageway at the Fair Green varies in width from 41 feet to 43 feet.
Northwards from the Fair Green, property involved is No.1, St. Marks Road and numbers 205 to 223, London Road, the latter being the “Bucks Head” P.H.
Land has already been obtained for widening between the Public Baths and the Library, and the next buildings involved are those are north of the Library.
Widening is proposed along the frontage of the Holborn Schools, including part of the property 218, London Road and the forecourts of the properties numbers 182 to 200 and the front of building 180, London Road.
From Streatham Road to Gorringe Park, the whole of the widening is to take place along the frontage of Figges Marsh.
14th January 1937
In relation to the “Bucks Head” public house part of the above widening scheme I have now received the proposals of the brewers in connections therewith as follows:-
The Council to purchase five shops known as numbers 1,3,5,7 and 9, St Mark’s Road, and demolish and erected thereon licensed premises, and on completion the brewers to hand over the existing premises, which will provide a site for redevelopment of approximately 60 ft. frontage and a minimum depth of 74 ft.
I estimate the cost of erecting premises of the same capacity as the existing “Buck’s Head” public house will amount to approximately £9,000.
To arrive at the total cost involved, a valuer’s estimate of the cost of acquiring the property in St. Mark’s Road as against the value of the site available for redevelopment and the value the of the land to be thrown into the highway for widening purposes is required.
8th March 1937
Mitcham Cricket Green
The Town Clerk submitted letters from the Mitcham Cricket Club, Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society, the Mitcham and District Chamber of Commerce and the Cricket Club Conference, setting out reasons for opposition to the proposals of the Council for the widening of the London Road, in so far as they would affect the Mitcham Cricket Green, and in the case of the Common, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society, drawing attention to the provisions of the Mitcham Urban District Council Act, 1923. The Town Clerk reported that he had submitted the legal point raised by the Society to the counsel for the Urban District Councils Association, and the reply from counsel was read, to the effect that under the terms of the Mitcham Urban District Council act, 1923, Section 6, the council were precluded from carrying out the widening scheme upon the lines proposed, and if the Council desired to persist it would be necessary to apply to the Minister of Health for Provisional Order under Section 303 Public Health Act, 1875.
Resolved, that the Borough Engineer be instructed to submit to the Committee proposals for the amendment of the scheme to comply with the provisions of the Mitcham Urban District Council Act, 1923.
2nd April 1937
Borough Engineer reports it is impossible to prepare an alternative scheme for the widening of London Road along the Cricket Green frontage that would comply with the provisions of the Mitcham Urban District Act 1923.
From the Mitcham Herald of 2nd April, 1937
After all the protest meetings, passing of resolutions and the strong criticisms made regarding the proposal to take a portion of Mitcham Cricket Green for the widening of London-road, the Mitcham Borough Council found that, in
any case, the scheme could not be carried out, because it contravened the
Mitcham Urban District Council Act of 1923. Apparently nobody realised this
when the scheme was being drawn up, neither the Councillors nor the officials,
and it was not until the point had been raised by a protesting body that the
position was discovered. Counsel’s opinion was taken, and the Council was
informed that the scheme could not be carried out without contravening the
Act. At the Council meeting last week the Highways Committee expressed surprise
at the legal decision, and declared their innocence. The Council had
really no alternative but to ask the Borough Engineer to submit other proposals
which would avoid interference with the Cricket Green. The Chairman
of the Highways Committee said they were giving the official an almost
impossible task, because he did not believe there was a way in which the road
could be widened without encroachment on the Cricket Green.
Minutes of meetings held by the Mitcham Borough Council are available on request from the Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.