Category Archives: Council

Mrs Wray, pioneer of Mitcham’s child welfare service, died in 1960

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 6th May, 1960, page 1.

CHILD WELFARE PIONEER DIES

Mrs Elizabeth Sarah Wray, friends to hundreds of Mitcham families and pioneer of Mitcham’s child welfare service, has died. Her home was at Harcourt Road, Wallington.

Mrs Wray joined Mitcham Urban District Council in March, 1916, as the first health visitor. She remained until her retirement in February, 1943.

Mrs Wray, who did her rounds by bicycle, laid the foundation of maternity and child welfare in Mitcham. Working alone as health visitor she organised the first infant welfare clinics and inaugurated the home visiting scheme.

She was behind the opening of the infant welfare clinic in the creche at Colliers Wood –
one of the first.

HIGHEST ESTEEM

In 1920 a second health visitor was appointed, and Mrs Wray became senior health visitor. Later she was promoted and became the first local superintendent health visitor and infant life protection visitor.

During her 23 years’ service she worked during the term of three successive medical officers of health.

Dr Florence M Parsons, former assistant Mitcham medical officer of health, writes of Mrs Wray: “Practically every family in the borough was known to her.

“Many thousands of mothers have reason to be grateful to her invariably sound, helpful and sympathetic advice, and she was always held in the highest esteem by her professional colleagues and all those with whom she came into contact.”

Mrs Wray, a widow, has been an invalid for some years. The funeral service was at Wallington Parish Church on Wednesday last week. It was conducted by the Rev Frank Colquhoun, who also took the service at Streatham Vale crematorium. He paid tribute to her life of service for the community.

See a photograph, from Merton Memories, of her in 1920 at Woodlands.

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1944 : Bath Road Condemned but still Inhabited

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 24th November, 1944

BATH ROAD CONDEMNED BUT STILL INHABITED

When Will The Huts Come?

The Job is Urgent in Mitcham

Deplorable Conditions

Sir Malcolm Trustram Eve, K.C., is Lord Woolton’s Chief of Staff in connection with the repair of bombed houses in the London area. Recently he paid a visit to the Town Hall.

Where he ought to have gone was Bath-road, Mitcham.

A member of our editorial staff – most appropriately, perhaps a young woman member – has been there, and her description of what she saw may be a spur to Sir Malcolm, the Mitcham Council, and all concerned.

When I visited Bath-road I asked the people there if they would prefer to live in the Baths Hall, which the Housing Committee, on the suggestion of the Housing Manager (Miss B. Thrupp) recommended should be turned into a hostel.

Their “No” was unanimous.

They do not want a glorified shelter life.

Many were under the impression that they could not remain there during the day, and said that night shelter alone was no use to them. I understand that the people were to be allowed to remain there if they wished.

Now, owing to lack of support, it seems unlikely that the hall will be opened as a hostel, though at the time of writing the committee’s decision is not public.

What are the conditions in Bath-road?

All the houses there are condemned. And rightly so. For even in its best days Bath-road was never a health resort. Now it is utterly desolate.

Like War Derelict Area.

It is like a deserted battlefield, grey, derelict, and very quiet; an apparently uninhabited place. There was no sign of life as I entered it. Ruined houses, most of them open to wind and rain lay on either side. Here and there attempts had been made to board up doors and windows, but most gaped open to disclose broken walls and piled-up rubble. Yet amid the ruins of these houses I estimate that over sixty men, women and children are living in conditions that can be best described as mediaeval. Often the only way of telling if a house is occupied is by a thin column of smoke that rises from the ruins.

I had thought the place deserted, and then I counted nine columns of smoke.

It came as rather a shock to know that behind these grey, silent walls so many families were living. Few have any lighting apart from lamps and candles.

Drains have been blocked by rubble, so that there is no proper sanitation.

There is not one room in the road that is wind- and water-proof. These conditions have existed since July.

Suddenly, at the far end of the road, a child appeared. She went to the door of a broken house, and as she called a woman appeared and sold her potatoes. It was Mrs Gibbs. She told me she lived there with her daughter. She showed me a room lighted by a fire and a little light from a boarded window. The walls were wet and laths showed in the ceiling.

Children’s Voices

“We sleep in an Anderson, but about 3 a.m. are usually so cold that we get up and come into the house,” she said.

“A lot of people live in the houses opposite,” she told me. I knocked on the loose door of one of them, and as there was no answer, walked into a narrow, damp passage. The stairs were broken, the front room a mass of rubble and broken rafters, but from the back of the house came children’s voices.

There, living in one room, with only the barest furniture, was Mrs Smith and her four children. Last week her husband went overseas. He is very unhappy about his family, especially as his wife is expecting another child in February. At present they sleep in the Tube.

“I want a place near so that my sister can look after me when the baby is born. I cannot go on much longer in these conditions and feel sure that if the Council officials could see what conditions are like here they would do something about it,” she said. She said she was one of the first on the list for huts.

The Universal Question

“When do the huts arrive?” she asked, a question I was asked by every family to whom I spoke. I was unable to give an encouragng reply, for only the day before the Borough Surveyor (Mr Riley Schofield) had said that it was unlikely that any huts would be available in Mitcham before Christmas!

Next door to Mrs Smith live Mrs Clark and her son, the latter home on sick leave from the Merchant Navy. Next to them is her son, Charles Clark. He, with his wife and five children, all sleep in an Anderson and live in a small draughty room. He, too, asked, “When do the huts arrive?” And with reason, for his wife is expecting another child.

Later, as I passed an apparently derelict house, a woman in a red coat appeared from a broken doorway. “Do you want to see us?” she asked, and going in, I found her 72-year old mother, Mrs Rachel Smith, having tea by candlelight. The room was dark, for all the windows were boarded up and furniture salvaged from other rooms was stacked round the walls. The front room was piled with rubble, the stairs were unsafe. The habited room is probably unsafe. “I cannot sleep here, for there is no bed, and so I go down the Tube. We cannot lock the room, and one night things were stoeln. I have lived here all my married life, and my thirteen children were born here,” she said.

Her daughter, Mrs Penfold, is expecting her husband, who is serving overseas, home at Christmas. “I have no home to offer him. What shall I do?” she asked.

Further down the road lives Mr Honey with six others, two of them are sick, in a tiny kitchen. They sleep in Andersons in what used to be their garden.

People living in similar conditions in Chapel-road and Century-road. They know that hundreds are in like plight, though I doubt if any borough can show a worse area than Bath-road. The people there seemed glad that someone, even if only a newspaper reporter, was taking an interest in them, though many of them showed disappointment when they found that it was “only a reporter” and not “someone from the Council.”

Several families said they felt that more would have been done if members of the Council had seen conditions for themselves.

When Mrs Smith learnt that Sir Malcolm Trustram Eve had been down to the Town Hall she said : “I wish he had come down here, then he would have known how badly we need those huts.”

Mortuary Chapel in parish churchyard

In 1882, the parish church’s burial ground was enlarged and a mortuary chapel was built by Crockett at a cost of £1,761, as referred to in an advertised tender in the Surrey Mirror. (Adjusted for inflation, this was the equivalent of around £200,000 today.)

An entrance from Church Road was made, opposite the post office (later 71 Church Road). A path from this entrance led to a circular path in front the chapel.

The new burial ground was consecrated on 15th January 1883 by the Bishop of Rochester.

This 1910 Ordnance Survey map shows the entrance to the chapel as being opposite the letter box on the west side of Church Road. Another building is shown north east of the chapel, along the wall with Miles Road. The entrance that is there today is not shown and it is not known whether this building was related to the mortuary chapel.

1910 OS map


When Mitcham became part of the London Borough of Merton in 1965, the Coroner decided that autopsies and inquests would be performed at Battersea for both Merton and Wandsworth. This decision was recorded in the minutes of the Parks, Cemeteries and Allotments Committee dated 26th May 1965:

612. Mitcham and Wimbledon Mortuaries

The Director of Parks reported

(i) that following the reorganisation of the London boroughs, H.M. Coroner had decided that as from the 1st April, 1965, he will hold all inquests for both the London boroughs of Merton and Wandsworth at the Battersea Coroner’s Court and that consequently all autopsies on bodies will be carried out at the Battersea Mortuary; and

(ii) that no request has been made to use the Wimbledon and Mitcham mortuaries which had been kept in readiness since the 1st April in case local funeral directors wish to use them as Chapels of Rest, and

(iii) that consequently there seemed to be no necessity to keep the mortuaries available particularly as some financial arrangements would have to be agreed with the London Borough of Wandsworth for bodies admitted to the Battersea Mortuary from this borough.

Source: Minutes of proceedings of the council and committees, London Borough of Merton Council Minutes, 1965-66, volume 2, part 1.

Today, nothing is left of the chapel building, although the circular path remains. It is currently not known when it was demolished.

Photo taken 26th April 2017 of plot where mortuary chapel once stood.

Measurements made using the online map show the length of 45 feet along its east-west side, and its depth of 30 feet along its north-south side.

Inquests were held at the Mortuary Chapel. Here are links to some newspaper articles that reported them.

1895 Death from pleurisy
1910 Miss Ellen Peerless, of the Ship Laundry


Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.


Minutes of meetings held by the London Borough of Merton are available on request from the Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.

Leonard H. Munday

Mitcham Borough Council Valuation Officer from 1928 to 1947.

In council minutes from 1917, he was a rate collector.

News Articles

Ex-valuation officer’s rating appeal dismissed

Mr Leonard Munday, valuation officer for Mitcham from 1928 until 1947, has failed in his bid to cut the rating assessment on his own house at Crescent Grove, Mitcham.

In a reserved decision in London on Thursday last week, Mr R.C.G. Fennell dismissed Mr Munday’s appeal against a local valuation court’s decision which reduced by £2 to £54 the gross value on his house. Mr Munday had asked the Tribunal for a greater reduction.

Industry zone

He said his house was within an area planned for industrial development. He had an intimate knowledge of rents in the borough, and in the absence of rental evidence relating to his own house, the next best method in fixing the assessment should be on the basis of the capital cost of the property. In adpoting such a method he arrived at figures representing a gross value of £38.

Mr Fennell said the present valuation officer, Mr W.H. Mason, had relied on pre-war rental evidence for 10 houses in the neighbourhood which he regarded as providing a fair basis for comparison, although they differed in size and situation.

Mr Munday was directed to pay the valuation officer a guinea costs.

Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 25th September, 1959, page 1.

Alfred Henry Bailey

Alderman and mayor of Mitcham 1944-45. Born 1876, died 22nd May, 1959.

Mayor of Mitcham 1944-45. This clip is from Merton Memories photo 50641 copyright London Borough of Merton

Mayor of Mitcham 1944-45. This clip is from Merton Memories photo 50641 copyright London Borough of Merton

His obituary as reported in the local press:

Mr A.H. Bailey, former mayor, Boer War veteran and campaigner for a better Mitcham, died on Friday after a short illness. He was 82.

Throughout his long connection with Mitcham he fought for improvements. It is through his efforts that Mitcham was provided with two secondary schools.

In recent years, despite his age, Mr Bailey continued to play an active part in local organisations and affairs.

Mr Bailey came to the district in 1909. For several years until his death he lived in a bungalow at Glebe Court Estate, London Road.

Before he met his wife and settled down he was a roamer. He went to South Africa in 1895, and fought in the Boer War.

He joined an uitlander regiment and, as sergeant, took part in the battles preceding the relief of Ladysmith.

After being a member of Mitcham Urban District Council for six years he was elected chairman in 1926. Since then he has served the district in almost every civic capacity.

He became a member of the Borough Council in 1935, an alderman in 1937 and in 1944 he and his wife became Mayor and Mayoress.

His interests in Mitcham were many. He was president of the local boy scouts association for 17 years, a war-time deputy chief warden, founder member of the North Mitcham Improvement Association and founder member of the Anglo-Netherlands Association – now the All Nations’ Sports and Cultural Association.

Mr Bailey’s funeral was on Wednesday (27th May, 1959) at South London Crematorium.

Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 29th May 1959

More information on his life was given in a profile in the The South Warder, magazine of the South Mitcham Residents Association, volume 1 issue 1, November 1947.

Born in 1876 at Epsom, he attended the same primary school as Mr. Chuter Ede, the MP for Mitcham in 1923.

At the age of 12 he was apprenticed to a trade he disliked, and when in his ‘teens he emigrated to South Africa, ultimately settling in Pretoria, working in a shop for three years and becoming personally acquainted with the State Attorney (Field Marshal Smuts).

When hostilities broke out he found the lines to Cape Colony and Natal blocked, and had to escape through Portuguese territory (this route was later used by Winston Churchill). Joining a Uitiander Corps, he quickly became a sergeant and saw service at Colenso, Vaal Krantz, Spion Kop, and eventually taking part in the relief of Ladysmith; he was then invalided home to England with enteric fever.

On returning to civil life he entered the Post Office engineering service, retiring in 1936 at the age of 60.

He came to Mitcham in 1909 and was elected to the Council in 1920, and raised to the Aldermanic bench in 1937.

Mr. Bailey was very prominent in the formation of the Air Raid Precautions of the Borough and served throughout the War as a Deputy Chief Warden.

He served on many Committees of the Council and also on several outside bodies, such as School Managers, Boy Scouts, etc., where he was well known for his intelligent approach to the problems arising therein.

Perhaps the highlight in his long career was to be chosen as Mayor during V.E. year, when, in addition to his normal duties, he was seen at practically every street party held in Mitcham, accompanied and ably supported by the Mayoress, Mrs. Bailey.


In the 1911 census, Alfred Henry Bailey, inspector in the engineers department of post office telephones, is living at 48 Boscombe Road, with his wife Florence May, aged 34, and daughter Mary Alice, aged 1.

From a public family tree on Ancestry, his daughter Mary Alice married Alfred MacIntyre Rodhouse in 1938.

Alfred Henry Bailey died in 1959, as shown in his probate record, from Ancestry:

BAILEY Alfred Henry of 180 Glebe Court, London Road, Mitcham
Surrey, died 22nd May 1959 at St. Anthonys Hospital Cheam Surrey.

Probate London 9th July to Alfred MacIntyre Rodhouse quantity surveyor and Mary Alice Rodhouse (Wife of the said Alfred MacIntyre Rodhouse).

Effects £1886 13s. 8d.

Adjusted for inflation, this is worth around £40,000 in 2017 values.

Merton Memories Photos
1945
1946 visit to Hengelo
1958

H. Richards

He became a Councillor in 1922, Chairman of the Urban District Council in 1931, and Alderman of the Borough of Mitcham in 1938.

He was a lover of flowers and trees and was a Conservator of Mitcham Common.

He was chairman and secretary of the North Mitcham Plotowners.

He died in the spring of 1940.

Source: ‘The Sentinel’ magazine, September 1949.

Ernest Charles Clay, Mitcham Borough Treasurer

5th December 1958. Clip from Merton Memories photo http://photoarchive.merton.gov.uk/collections/people/50478 (c) London Borough of Merton

5th December 1958. Clip from Merton Memories photo http://photoarchive.merton.gov.uk/collections/people/50478 (c) London Borough of Merton

Mitcham Borough Treasurer for twenty years, he died at his home in Sutton on Friday 31st January, 1964, aged 57. He had retired from the council in September 1963, and had been suffering from ill heath for a number of years. The funeral service was at Mitcham Parish Church on 5th February 1964 which was attended by the Mayor and Mayoress, Councillor and Mrs W.H. Sanderson; the Town Clerk, Mr R.H. White; and chief officers of Mitcham Council.

Mr Clay was one of the most prominent members in the community. Not only did he guide Mitcham Council on their methods of finance but also a large number of local organisations. He was a founder member of Mitcham Old People’s Housing Association; treasurer of the Old People’s Welfare Committee, the Citizens Advice Bureau, Mitcham Youth Committee and a founder member of the handicraft class for the disabled.

He was also a district head of the Forces Help Society and secretary of S.A.F.F.A. as well as being connected with many smaller organisations.

Mr Clay joined Mitcham Council in 1929 when it was an urban district. When Mitcham became a borough he was promoted to deputy borough treasurer and during the war he became the Borough Treasurer.

A keen photographer, he was to have been presented with the A.R.P.S. on Wednesday.

Mr Clay leaves a widow, son and daughter.

Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 7th February, 1964, page 1.

In his will, he left his widow £5,516 which, when adjusted for inflation, is around £100,00 in 2017 values.

Ernest Charles CLAY of 86 Albion Road, Sutton, Surrey, died
31st January 1964.

Probate

London 18th March to Dorothy May Clay, widow. £5,516.

Source: Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995.
Original data: Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England. London, England (c) Crown copyright.


Note about his forename: the newspaper article and Merton Memories photo refer to him as E.C. Clay. On Ancestry, a death index entry has an Ernest C. Clay, aged 57, first quarter of 1964, Surrey Mid Eastern (Vol 5G, page 294), which is assumed to be him. Also from Ancestry, the will for Ernest Charles Clay is a match on the date of death, residence in Sutton.