Category Archives: People

Auxiliary Fire Service graves in London Road Cemetery

London Road Cemetery, Mitcham, CR4 3LA (Google map).

In the Commonwealth War Graves section, plot 14, of this cemetery there are three gravestones for Auxiliary Firemen who died at the Surrey Theatre, on 10th May 1941.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website doesn’t include the details of these graves in their list of the war graves at this cemetery, because, as commented below, they are not classed as full war graves. The three gravestones in plot 14 are shown below, the sequence being from left to right as viewed from the path, which leads from the entrance in Victoria Road.

E. G. Pepper, aged 32

E.F. Robinson, aged 35

C.A. Elliman, aged 37

A pdf plan of the the layout of this cemetery is available from Merton council’s website.

1929 : Lonesome School teachers in car crash


Mitcham Teachers in Fall Over Embankment.

Two young members of the teaching staff at Lonesome School, Mitcham, had an extraordinary adventure after leaving the school on Tuesday afternoon.

Shortly before five p.m. a Baby Austin saloon car in which they were riding crashed through the stout wooden fence on the eastern corner of the Bee Hive railway bridge and plunged down the very steep embankment on to the small plot of waste ground at the rear of the new houses in Spencer-road.

The car reached the bottom of the embankment, estimated to be seventeen feet in depth, right side up, fortunately.

The teachers were Miss Ivy Green, aged twenty-three, of 61, Elsted-street, Walworth, who was driving, and Miss Mary Runnacuss, aged twenty-one, of Defoe-road, Tooting. The car belonged to Miss Smythe, of 21, Tunney-road, East Dulwich, the well known and popular head mistress of Lonesome School, who was severely injured herself in a motor accident some time ago at Eastfields level crossing. She had lent her car to her two assistants for an hour while Miss Green was learning to drive. Miss Runnacuss was her instructress.
Neither of the girls was hurt in the least and scarcely suffered from shock. The only damage to the car was a smashed wind-screen.

Mr. George Mountain, of Smith’s Buildings, Commonside East, road foreman in the employ of the Urban Council, told the “Advertiser” that he saw the car crossing the bridge as a motor lorry was ascending from Grove-road. “The motorists,” he said, “evidently caught sight of the lorry as they turned into Grove-road, made a big swerve to avoid it and crashed through the fence doing so. If their car had struck the lamp-post inside the fence it must have turned turtle. I rushed to help the girls and thought they must certainly be seriously injured, but to my great astonishment both were calmly sitting in the car, and actually smiling! They displayed great nerve and coolness all through.”

Another witness said Miss Green remarked : ” I am glad the old ‘bus did not turn over at any rate.”

Half a dozen men, with Mr. Mountain, assisted the girls to get the car out of the “rough” into the narrow passage between the end house occupied-by Mr. and Mrs. Hayne, No. 1. Spencer-road, and the bottom of the embankment. The girls then drove it away. Miss Green gaily waving her hand to her helpers as she left!

A larger car could not have been got out of the well formed by the embankment and the houses, except with the aid of a crane.

Both teachers returned to duty at Lonesome School next morning, but the head mistress had to drive a motor cycle instead of her Austin seven.

Mitcham Advertiser, 17th October, 1929, page 6

1929 : Rock Terrace Character Dead

All Rock Terrace attended the funeral at Mitcham Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon of Mr Matthew Marney, aged sixty-three, a well-known Rock Terrace character.

There was a wonderful tribute of flowers. Mr Marney, like many of his relatives and friends at Mitcham and Tooting, was a flower hawker at one time.

There was a long procession of mourners who followed the remains from Queen’s Road and filled Parish Church. The Vicar of Mitcham conducted the service. The hearse was covered with wreaths and a coach carried the remainder.

Mitcham Advertiser, 4th April, 1929, page 1.

1955 : Harry Gray’s fair leaves winter HQ at Mitcham

From the Mitcham & Tooting Advertiser, 7th April, 1955


Harry Gray’s fair leaves winter H.Q. at Mitcham

MITCHAM show-king, 74 year old Harry Gray, whose fair began its annual tour on Monday, after months of patient preparation, is hoping for a hot, dry summer. Last year’s tour was badly affected by wet weather.

For the last 50 years the fair has spent the winter months in quarters near Mitcham Baths.

Every September, after a long summer programme, the mobile playground returns to its Mitcham home for five months’ rest. Throughout winter, the showmen overhaul their expensive equipment and repaint everything. In addition they talk over future plans and examine suggestions for additions to the fair.


Harry Gray is a tough and efficient boss, despite his age. A showman all his life — he was born while his parents were on a tour — he comes from a family which for generations has belonged to the amusement world.

Since taking over the present fair, Mr. Gray has experienced many difficulties. One of these is the competition from television and the cinema. Expenses are heavy and every year costs increase.

Nevertheless, this year’s tour is ambitious and includes visits to Hampstead Heath and Newbury races. Other places included are Clapham Common, Tooting Bec Common, Victoria Park and the famous Mitcham Fair in August.

On Monday the fair left Mitcham for its first port of call—Hampstead Heath. Trucks and trailers swung out on to the London Road early in the morning. The trucks, many of them of over 15 tons in weight, drove in convoy with a noise like muffled thunder.

To carry the many tons of equipment the lorries have to be kept in perfect running order and must be driven with care and skill. The Gray fair has the proud record of never having been involved in any road accident.

When the convoy reached Hampstead Heath, about 50 men swarmed over the lorries and within a few hours the Gray Fair was erected and ready to receive its first customers.

A workman overhauls one of the fair’s many powerful lorries.

The winter home of the Harry Gray fair. It has been used by showmen for over fifty years.

1906 Death of Mr Hatfeild at Morden Hall


On Saturday last there died at his residence Morden Hall, Merton, at the age of 79, one of the best known men in the tobacco world, Mr Gilliat Hatfeild.

Mr Hatfeild, who was reputed a millionaire, was senior partner in the famous old firm all Taddy and Co., Minories, whose establishment dates as far back as 1730.

The firm of Taddy has been closely associated with the snuff trade. Snuff was its staple product. Although of late years this has ceased to make the old appeal to the public taste, “Taddy’s” “Tom Buck” “Black Rappee” and “Brown Rappee” are well known to and largely affected by snuff takers.

Attached to the fine park which Morden Hall stands are snuff mills. Hither the raw material is brought from London, manufactured, and carted back in its manufactured state to town. It is doubtful whether large fortunes are to be made in the snuff trade now, but more recently thhere is said to have been a certain revival of the snuff habit.

Mr Hatfeild’s funeral Took place on Wednesday at Kensal Green Cemetery at ten minutes to two.

One of the deceased’s daughters is a well-known dog fancier, and another daughter it will be remembered is the wife of Mr T.A. Meates, formerly chairman of the Wimbledon Bench of magistrates.

Source: Wimbledon Boro’ News, 17th February, 1906

His son, Gilliat Edward Hatfeild, refused to sell his estate to property developers. He died in 1941 and left Morden Hall Park to the National Trust.

Mitcham entry from the Story of Congregationalism in Surrey

The story of Congregationalism in Surrey
by Cleal, Edward E; Crippen, T. G. (Thomas George)

Publication date 1908

Mitcham (1818)

Towards the end of the eighteenth century some ministers associated with George Whitfield preached in a little building that had been prepared for them in this village.

Amongst those who afterwards rendered occasional service were Matthew Wilks, Rowland Hill, Thomas Jackson of Stockwell, and John Sibree of Frome. Other ministers preached more regularly. At first the attendance was encouraging, but later the congregation declined and the chapel was closed.

In 1816 another effort was made to evangelise the village, and on November 27 in that year a little chapel was opened by Revs. Rowland Hill, E. J. Jones, and R. Stodhart.

Shortly afterwards Rev. Thomas Williams, formerly of Trowbridge, accepted an invitation to supply the pulpit for twelve months, during which time the place became so crowded that the necessity was strongly felt for erecting a new chapel.

A good site was procured, and with the strong recommendation of such men as those we have mentioned, with Dr. Collyer, Thomas Lewis of Islington, and indeed all the neighbouring ministers, the case for Mitcham was laid before the public.

On April 28, 1819, a commodious chapel called Zion Chapel was opened. It was built to accommodate 300 persons, but provision was made for a gallery which would seat an additional 200. The opening services were conducted by Revs. G. Mudie, Dr. Collyer,and Thomas Jackson. The Evangelical Magazine tells us that the attendance was numerous and respectable, and the collections liberal, but a debt of over £700 remained.

Mr. Williams did not remain long after the opening of the new chapel. In September, 1820, he accepted an invitation to become co-pastor with Rev. Timothy East at Birmingham.

On January 17, 1821, a church was formed by Rev. Samuel Hackett of London; and Hoxton students ministered to the little fellowship till July, 1823, when one of their number, Rev. John Varty, was ordained pastor.

John Varty was a Londoner, born November 29, 1798. He remained at Mitcham fifteen years, and in 1839 removed to Fareham, where he ministered for twenty-three years. He afterwards held a pastorate at Aston Tirrold, Berks, and after a short residence at Northampton died rather suddenly in London, April 16, 1873.

Thomas Kennerley, of Burton-on-Trent, was the next minister. He, too, was born in the great city, and as a youth attended Surrey Chapel. He studied for the ministry at Newport Pagnell, and on leaving settled at Burton. Soon after his removal to Mitcham a front gallery was erected, and on Sunday, January 12, 1840, the chapel was reopened. Two years later a large room was built for the Sunday school and with a view to establishing a day school.

In 1854 Mr. Thomas Pratt, a deacon of the church, bequeathed £20 per annum for the support of the ministry, and £90 per annum for the support of day schools. A British school was opened on July 20, 1857, in which 200 boys and girls received instruction.

During Mr. Kennerley’s pastorate at Mitcham he was for some years one of the joint secretaries of the Surrey Mission. In 1856 failing health compelled him to resign. For a time he preached at Eltham, but was never again strong. He lived for a while in retirement at Gravesend, and died July 12, 1870.

A few months after Mr. Kennerley’s resignation Rev. George Stewart, of Hastings, accepted the vacant charge. He remained till 1862, when he removed to Newcastle-on-Tyne. He has since held pastorates at Glasgow, Kilburn, Reading, and Bexhill, and now lives retired at Woodford Green.

Mr. Stewart was succeeded by Rev. Thomas Orr. He was born in 1823 at Annandale, near Kilmarnock, and was educated for the law. He was making con- siderable headway in his profession, but removing to Glasgow, under the influence of Dr. Morrison and Dr. Guthrie, he gave up his career to enter the ministry. After a course at Edinburgh University he settled at Ayr in 1852, and then removed to Mitcham, where he was recognised June 23, 1863.

For six years and a half Mr. Orr exercised a faithful and helpful ministry at Mitcham. In 1869 he removed to Poole, and four years later to Windsor, where he laboured for twenty years. He died at Crouch End September 30, 1895, in the seventy-first year of his age.

In 1870 Rev. George William Joyce, a student of Hackney College, accepted the pastorate. He remained two years and removed to Tavistock in Devon.

The next minister was Rev. J.F. Poulter, B.A. Mr. Poulter was educated at Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. For twenty-six years he had laboured at Wellingborough. Mr. Poulter’s pastorate at Mitcham extended from June 20, 1872 to December 27, 1874. He has not sought another charge, and is spending the evening of his long life at Wimbledon.

In 1875 Mr. H. W. Mote, of Hackney College, accepted the vacant pulpit. His recognition took place on August 3, but he was not ordained until October, 1876. Mr. Mote only remained another year. He resigned in 1877, and was followed by Rev. W. H. Belchem, whose pastorate was also short, lasting from October, 1877, to June 29, 1879.

In 1880 Rev. Robert Richman accepted an invitation to the vacant charge and commenced his ministry on August 1.

Mr. Richman found a membership of only thirty, but it has since largely increased. The neighbouring population is rapidly growing, and there is every reason to expect for the church a prosperous future. In 1886 the chapel was refurnished and decorated. For some years there had been friction between the church and the day school, but at last the trouble was settled, the church receiving £10 a year for the use of the school-room. Now the school has a reputation for efficiency and good work which is acknowledged by all religious parties.

The tomb of Rev. Ingram Cobbin, M.A., author of a once popular Bible Commentary, who died in 1851, is in the burial ground adjoining the church.

Source : The Internet Archive

1914 : Helmet maker gets into trouble

From the Mitcham & Tooting Mercury, 21st August 1914

A helmet maker named William Tilley (42), of Sibthorpe-road, Mitcham, celebrated his sudden increase in business by getting drunk on Saturday. He was fined 5s. and 4s. costs by the Croydon Magistrates for being drunk and disorderly on the London-road, Mitcham. He said he worked for contractors who supplied the Government and the Metropolitan Police, and he wished he could be onboard ship with his son, “doing what they were doing for the war.”

There is a Charles T. TILLEY on a war memorial in St Mark’s church, Mitcham, and ‘C T TILLEY’ is inscribed on the Mitcham War Memorial, but no further details are known.

The 1910 electoral register has the following Tilleys:

George TILLEY : 2 Yew Villas, Leonard road, Lonesome
John TILLEY : 6 Victoria Terrace, Lansdell Road
Stephen TILLEY : Firework Road, Eastfields
William TILLEY : 11 Prussia Place