Category Archives: Roads

1921 suicide in Langdale Avenue explained

9th June 1921 from Pall Mall Gazette

DEAD BODY IN FOOTWAY TRAGIC DISCOVERY AT MITCHAM.

The dead body well-dressed man, with a revolver by his side, was discovered early to-day in the footway of Langdale-avenue, Mitcham. The revolver was a large six-chambered one, with four full cartridges and two spent ones. The dead man has since been recognised as a former resident of Albert-road, Mitcham. Revolver shots were heard late last night, but no notice was taken of them the time.

Source: Pall Mall Gazette – Thursday 09 June 1921 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

This death was then explained at the inquest, when the suicide note of the dead man was read out:

EXPLANATORY LETTER POLICE.

Suicide’s Precaution “To Save Mystery.”

“My Brain Is Gone.”

A long letter addressed to the police was read at the inquest on the man named Hunt who was found shot the street Mitcham. In this he said –

To save any mystery, I am Percy John Hunt, late of Lynn Road, Balham.

If you make inquiries at Langdale Avenue, Mitcham, or Lynn Road, Balham, you may find out the whereabouts of my wife.

She deserted me last year after thirty years of married life, and is now touring, I believe, with the eldest daughter on the music-hall stage. Since my wife left me I have felt fit for nothing. She seemed to obsess the whole of being, and, try as I would, I could not shake it off. Only by drinking in the day time have I been able to carry on. My nights have been hell. I am doing this now to save something else, as wife may tell you.

Mrs Hunt said she certainly believed that his idea was “to do me as well as himself.”

She last saw her husband on January 19, but had written often since. A recent letter to their daughter asked for money, and she sent £4.

In reply to the Coroner (Mr Nightingale), Mrs. Hunt said her husband must have reached the end of his resources. He had sold up the home and lived on the proceeds. He had been drinking terribly. She had had a fearful life the last few years.

She was living in Lynn Road, Balham, and her husband’s address was Elmhurst Mansions, Clapham.

They lived formerly in Albert Road. Mitcham, within view of the spot where the body was found.

From a farewell letter addressed to the wife the Coroner quoted the following sentences :— It has taken something bring me to this — a strong, healthy man of 50. My brain has gone. l am no good.

A verdict of “Suicide while of unsound mind” was returned.

Source: Dundee Evening Telegraph – Monday 13 June 1921 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

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

MOTORING THRILL.

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.

1879 : Gipsy Life on Mitcham Common

Sketches on Gypsy Life : Inside a tent on Mitcham Common

GIPSY LIFE NEAR LONDON. Another sketch of the wild and squalid habits of life still retained vagrant parties or clans of this singular race of people, often met with the neighbourhood of suburban villages and other places around London, will be found in our Journal. We may again direct the reader’s attention to the account of them which was contributed by Mr. George Smith, of Coalville, Leicester, to the late Social Science Congress at Manchester, and which was reprinted in our last week’s publication. That well-known advocate of social reform and legal protection for the neglected vagrant classes of our population, reckons the total number of gipsies in this country at three four thousand men and women and ten thousand children. He is now seeking to have all movable habitations—i.e., tents, vans, shows, &c. —in which the families live who are earning a living travelling from place to place, registered and numbered, as in the case of canal boats, and the parents compelled to send their children to school at the place wherever they may be temporarily located, it National, British, or Board school. The following is Mr. Smith’s note upon what what was to be seen in the gipsies’ tent on Mitcham-common:-

“ Inside this tent —with no other home—there were two men, their wives, and about fourteen children of all ages : two or three of these were almost men and women. The wife of one of the men had been confined of a baby the day before called —her bed consisting of a layer of straw upon the damp ground. Such was the wretched and miserable condition they were in that I could not do otherwise than help the poor woman, and gave her a little money. But in her feelings of gratitude to me for this simple act of kindness she said she would name the baby anything I would like to choose ; and, knowing that gipsies are fond of outlandish names, I was in a difficulty. After turning the thing over in my mind for a few minutes, I could think of nothing but Deliverance.’ This seemed to please the poor woman very much; and the poor child is named Deliverance G——. Strange to say, the next older child is named Moses.’

Source: Illustrated London News – Saturday 06 December 1879 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)