1903 : House Refuse Nuisance in Lewis Road

This report to the Mitcham Parochial Committee of the Croydon Rural District Council describes a parcel of land, formerly and orchard, which has been divided by two owners. A gravel pit, filled with water has dried out and is being used to dump household waste, leading to the nuisance complained of. The report describes the size of the land, who owns it and where houses were built.

This 1894 OS map shows a field, number 298, of the same size referred to in the report, and so could be Nicholl’s Orchard.

1894 OS map

1894 OS map

From the minutes of the
Croydon Rural District Council
Mitcham Parochial Committee
Volume VIII 1902 – 1903
21st July 1903
page 294

2. House Refuse: Lewis Road.

The Sub-committee appointed to consider and report upon the alleged nuisance caused by the deposit of house refuse on land in Lewis Road, occupied by Messrs. Reader and Cramp, submitted the following report:-

The piece of land in question is about 3.5 acres in extent, and was
formerly known as “Nicholls’ Orchard.” It has a frontage of about 230 ft
to Lewis Road, and a depth of something over 650 foot. The gravel was
excavated a few years ago from the whole of the land in question, with the
exception of a small piece in the south-west corner abutting on Lewis Road.
The piece of land has since been sub-divided, the western portion being
owned and occupied by Mr. George Reader, and the eastern portion being occupied by Mr. Cramp.

Mr. Reader has built a pair of cottages on the south west corner of his piece abutting on Lewis Road. There are two or three cottages on the other side of Lewis Road, near to the south east corner of the part occupied by Mr Cramp, but, generally speaking, this district is sparsely inhabited.

The filling up of both parts of this excavated gravel pit has apparently been going on for the past year or two in an irregular and unsystematic manner.
The materials used for filling consist of miscellaneous rubbish, a large part of which appears to be unobjectionable from a sanitary point of view (however unsightly it may be from the point of view of the landscape gardener). A certain proportion of it, however, no doubt consists of vegetable and other refuse, the decomposition of which under unfavourable conditions might produce malarious vapours and be injurious to health.
When the Sub Committee first visited the place on Saturday, the 20th June, it was flooded by the exceptional rains of the previous week; a large part was completely submerged, and the remainder was a sloppy bog.

As this moisture evaporated during the dry weather which followed, bad and unwholesome vapours were no doubt given off, but that was a state of things prevalent throughout the district after the abnormal rains, and was not peculiar to the piece of land under consideration.

When the land was revisited three weeks later a marked improvement was apparent. On Mr. Cramp’s part of the land there was still a deepish pool of some size at the further end from the road to which the filling in process has not yet extended, the water in which was discoloured and foul, and there were still some puddles of foul and stagnant water in certain hollows and depressions on Mr. Reader’s piece; but having regard to the distance from dwellings and the nature of the surroundings, there was nothing to take serious exception to.

Mr. Cramp had been continuing to bring in dust contractors dust-bin refuse, but following up a caution from the Sub-Committee, had had it covered fairly.

Mr. Reader had been taking in no more filling in of any kind, and made complaint of what he considered inequality of treatment, saying that Mr. Cramp had been permitted to continue to fill in with dust contractors dustbin clearings, whereas he (Reader) had been forbidden ; that in consequence the general level of Cramp’s piece was raised a foot or more higher than Reader’s, and the water was forced from Cramp’s on to Reader’s piece, causing the puddles before referred to.

As regards this complaint the Sub-Committee think there must have been some misunderstanding on Reader’s part, for it is manifestly desirable that both Reader and Cramp should be encouraged to fill in as rapidly as possible, so as to bring the surface of the land up to the normal level, and get rid of the pools of stagnant water from which malarial vapours may arise.

If this work of filling in is undertaken systematically from the frontage to Lewis Road with dust-bin clearings and other suitable materials, properly covered as the work goes on, the water which must gather in the hollows will be gradually driven further and further back from the roadway and the inhabited houses until it is got rid of altogether, and the land will be rendered fit for cultivation.

Both Mr. Reader and Mr. Cramp appear ready and willing to do this, which is manifestly to the advantage of their property, and this Sub-Committee recommends that the misapprehension under which Mr. Reader appeals to labour, as before stated, be removed by a proper intimation from this Committee, and that for the present no further action be taken.

G. Farewell Jones.
George Parker.
John Stickings.


Minutes of meetings held by the Croydon Rural District Council are available on request from the Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.

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