Category Archives: Roads

Nine schools in big reshuffle in 1960

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 20th May, 1960, page 1.

NINE SCHOOLS IN BIG RESHUFFLE

A DEVELOPMENT plan to provide an academic stream in all Surrey secondary schools
will start next year. Nine Mitcham schools will be affected, five of which will be closed.

The scheme was due to be started early next year and completed by 1966, but too little
money was allocated by the Ministry of Education, and the completion date will not be for some years.

Top priority on the list is Gorringe Park Secondary Boys School. As the present building
is needed for the primary pupils, new premises will be built.

The boys from Rowan Road Secondary School, which is closing, will be transferred to the
new school, where it is planned to run one academic, one technical and two general courses.

TO BE ENLARGED

Rowan Road Secondary girls will have the entire school building, at the moment divided between the boys and girls school. They will have one academic, one home economics and two general courses.

Pollards Hill Secondary School will be enlarged. It Will take six instead of four entry classes each year and will have one academic, one commercial and four general courses.

Western Road Boys’ School will close and the girls will take over the entire building. With an academic and a commercial course there will be two general courses.

Singlegate Boys’ School will close, and open in a new building on a new site with one academic, one technical and two general courses.

Fortescue Girls’ and Links’ Girls’ schools will both be closed.

Merton Memories Photos
Fortescue Road School in 1925

Gorringe Park School (6 photos)

Pollards Hill School : Football coaching in 1955

Rowan Road School (10 photos)

Western Road School in 1954

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Rigid rules of the almshouses in old days

Clip from Merton Memories photo, reference Mit_​Almshouses_​1-2, copyright London Borough of Merton. This early drawing shows the original enclosing wall.

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 13th May, 1960, page 3.

TWELVE middle-aged women, protected from the cold winds by woollen capes that reached their ankles, wended their way to Mitcham Parish Church in 1829.

Parishioners who saw the women demurely stepping out each Sunday, knew by their dress that they lived at the newly-erected almshouses at the Cricket Green, Mitcham.

For in 1829 the Tate’s Almshouses were constructed to provide “a residence free from rent, taxes and outgoings for 12 poor women who shall be respectively widows or unmarried women … members of the Church of England and who have a legal settlement in the parish.”

TRUST FUND

For generations the Tate families had been benefactors in the parish and in this early part of the 19th century decided it was time to build houses for the poor and set up a trust fund.

The building, familiar to residents today, was built to designs by a Mr. Buckler on the site of a former house belonging to the Tates who lived nearby. When completed a board of trustees was set up to choose applicants for admission to the house and to organise the administrative side.

These well meaning gentlemen included the Rev. James Henry Mapleton, Vicar of Mitcham, who acted as clerk to the trustees; George Matthew Hoare, of Morden Lodge; Sir John William Lubbock, of Norfolk, and William Simpson, squire in Carshalton.

Each of these ebullient figures invested some money in the project as did the foundress, Mary Tate who gave £5,000.

EXPENSE

The almshouses, whose exterior has altered little, are built in the style prevalent in the latter part of the 16th century and were erected “ at considerable expense.”

For the poor of the parish there was considerable competition to be allocated a room or small flatlet in the almshouses and when, at last, they were successful in gaining admission, there were some fairly rigid rules to be observed.

A copy of the rules was presented by Worthing Public Library to Mitcham Library in the early 1930s.

One of the main stipulations was that the “almswomen” were to be 50 years old and upwards and were not to have received poor relief in the five previous years. They were to be selected by Mary Tate during her life and subsequently by the trustees.

The women forfeited their weekly allowance of three shillings if they remained outside their home for more than 24 hours without official leave.

They were expected to “ behave civilly and orderly and to live orderly and religious lives,” attending the church each week and receiving the sacraments four times each year.

The gates, inset in the high brick wall round the building, were locked at 11 p.m. and an hour earlier during the winter months.

No strangers were allowed into their homes without special permission and on receiving the weekly allowance, the women were “enjoined to discharge all debts contracted in the last week.”

They were also not allowed to keep dogs or alter their apartments without permission.

From this early record, it would seem that the establishment was run on rather austere lines with the matron keeping a book with the names of the women and reporting ” for infraction of the rules ” to the trustees.

The women also benefited from “Smith’s charity.” Smith was an eccentric retired London jeweller who travelled Surrey on foot accompanied by his old dog. He was dubbed “ Dog-smith ” and was reputed to leave sums of money where villages received him well.

Some of the correspondence between William Simpson and Mary Tate, who moved to a country house at Loughborough, shows how the women were chosen to live at the almshouses.

SAME COURSE

In February, 1837, he wrote. . . ” our course at the last vacancy was to give notice of it at church and invite each candidate to send in her grounds of admission to the trustees … if it is your pleasure we should follow the same course on the present occasion, will you do me the honour to communicate with me.”

Then again he wrote to Sir Lubbock asking if he considered it suitable to ask applicants to go to the almshouses 44 when particulars of each case be laid before Miss Tate for her decision on the next vacancy.”

But now a proportion of the old rules have been changed and a recently completed modernisation scheme has resulted in a transformation within the building.

The residents — still all women who have lived in the locality for not less than five years—have had their two-room flatlets redecorated in pleasant light colours. Electric light has been
installed, inside toilets, baths and new gas stoves in some of the apartments.

There is a new roof and drainage system and other renovations completed by a Mitcham firm to make the homes more comfortable.

The women, who now pay a small nominal rent, are chosen by a seven-man committee of trustees. Following former custom. Rev. John Thorold, Vicar of Mitcham, is the ex-officio trustee.

The memory of the Tate family is carried on, however, for there are several tablets and plaques in the parish church commemorating various members of the family.

Among them is a white marble monument erected to George Tate, “a gentleman of aimiable and accomplished manners,” father of the foundress, who died at the age of 77 in May, 1822.

1960 : Explosion showers acid over homes

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 15th January, 1960, page 1.

Explosion hurls vat top through roof of factory

ACID IS SHOWERED OVER HOMES
And two boys at play are covered

Acid showered over homes in the Batsworth Road, Mitcham, area on Friday after an explosion in a factory nearby.

The explosion hurled the top of a vat through the factory roof. A stream of acid followed and firemen were called to hose it from homes and the street.

The factory is W.J. Bush, synthetic chemists, Batsworth Road, scene of an explosion in 1933 whiched wrecked and damaged nearby homes, and killed a child. People in the neighbourhood have never forgotten it.

Mystery

Friday’s explosion remains a mystery. The fac†ory would make no comment.

It happened in the evening as Mr Albert Bowdery, who lives nearby, went to buy some tobacco.

“I heard the bang and thought at first that a tower was going to fall, then I saw something rush through the roof.

“I hurried back indoors and called to my daughter-in-law: ‘Quick, the children.’ We ran with them into the road. It would not take much to make this old building collapse.”

Mr Bowdery’s daughter-in-law Violet, has two young children – John and Linda.

Mr Bowdery said: “The explosion reminded people of the 1933 incident. They are always a bit worried about the factory.

“We don’t know what goes on there.”

The shop of greengrocer Mrs L. Langridge was covered in a “sort of white wash.”

“We are still cleaning up. A pair of my overalls are ruined. We could not let the children play outside.”

A nearby butcher, Mr J. Stopher, said: “The sanitary people inspected my goods, and, to be on the safe side, I have handed over a quantity of lamb, although it was not contaminated as far as we can tell. The damage was done to the outside of my shop.”

An elderly painter said: “We worry about the factory because many of us remember the tragedy of 1933.”

Soon after the explosion Michael Fullick and his brother Norman went out to play. They became covered in the acid.

Baths

“When we found out we gave them baths immediately,” said mr F. Fullick, licensee of the Bath Tavern.

Firemen were given rubber gloves when they arrived at the factory. A works chemist gave them advice on how to deal with the spilt sulphuric acid.

1960 : 132 year old Love Lane cottage to come down

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 2nd September 1960, page 1.

132-year old cottage to come down

SEVENTY-EIGHT-YEAR-OLD Mrs. Frances Dent, whose family have grown flowers in Love Lane, Mitcham for the past 60 years, walked out of her 132-year-old timber cottage for the last time on Tuesday.

She is the last owner of Dent’s Nursery, soon to be demolished to make way for a primary school.

When the Dent family first came to the cottage and nursery they were surrounded by open fields.

On the one-and-a-half-acre site they had five large greenhouses. Their main crop was flowers for Covent Garden.

Mrs. Dent who lived in the cottage alone since her husband died, walked along her narrow garden path and set off for the Tate Almshouses, Cricket Green, where she will now live.

HAPPY

“I have been very happy at the old place,” she said. “ It’s a great wrench to leave. But the house was in a bad state and it is best that it comes down.”

The lone nurseryman is 58-year-old Mr. Daniel Grace who rented the ground when Mrs. Dent’s husband died. He grew plants and vegetables to sell locally.

“ I am going to buy a little place in the country,” he said. “The place has changed. You have only got to cast an eye around the neighbourhood to realise that.
“In my day Love Lane was a lane. It was lined with hedges and dog roses.”

This OS map from 1954 shows a nursery and a pair of houses numbered 54 and 55 on the north side of Love Lane.

1954 OS map

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.”

Mitcham Workhouse Wall

The last part of the crenellated wall from the Mitcham Workhouse on Mitcham Common has been demolished. This clip from the Tom Francis collection, available on Merton Memories, is from 1895 and shows the wall when the site was occupied by the Woodite company.

Clip from Merton Memories photo 33222, copyright London Borough of Merton.

These photos were taken on 5th July 2017, in Windmill Road, near the corner with Commonside East:

The Manager of Mitcham Common said in July 2017:

It’s my understanding that the remaining wall is unstable and will shortly be demolished and replaced by a wall and fence design very similar to the one that exists along the southern and eastern boundaries of The Meadows estate.

As far as I’m aware there was no condition placed on the planning consent which required the developer to maintain the extant crenellated wall.

The new wall was photographed on 6th September, 2017:

250 and 252 London Road

A building in London Road, between the Kings Arms pub and Sibthorpe Road.

Photo taken 27th August 2017 (a Sunday morning)

In this 1952 OS map, numbers 250 and 252 are south of 248 on the west side of London Road, opposite the Buck’s Head pub.

1952 OS map

This clip of Mitcham ‘High Street’ as was called then, is from around 1900, and shows the left the old Kings Arms pub. Numbers 250 and 252 are to the left of the Oil Colour Stores’ that has ‘No. 8’ between the windows on the first floor.

c. 1900 clip from Merton Memories photo 51472, copyright London Borough of Merton

From the 1891 directory (the shops were numbered from 1 going north):

1, Henry COLLBRAN, butcher
2, S.E. BURTON, stationer
3, Charles GOULD, The Kings’ Arms Public House
4, Mrs H. LACK, draper
5, John CUMMINGS, greengrocer
6, Joseph COOK, butcher
7, T.P. SHEPPARD, grocer
8, William BARTER, grocer
9, George Joseph DALE, news agent

— here is Sibthorpe Road

10, James MOULAND, Pawnbroker
11, William Henry JENNER, ironmonger
12, Charles MACRO, hair dresser
13, C. SAUNDERS & Co., grocers
14, William COURT, baker
15, MOULAND & BENNETT, Watchmakers

Hence numbers 6 and 7 High Street are now 252 and 250 London Road.

A photo from 1895 shows it looking north.

1895 clip from Merton Memories photo 51748, copyright London Borough of Merton

The 1925 street directory still referred to the High Street. In 1926/7 London Road was renumbered.

Charles A. HUDSON, Kings Arms hotel
2 & 4, H. LACK, draper
5, John CUMMINGS, fruiterer
6, G. DUTRIEZ, butcher
7, W.H. FIELD & Son, wine merchant
8, E. & A.M., grocers
9, A.E. DALE, news agent

— here is Sibthorpe Road

10 & 11, W.J. HYDE, pawnbroker
12, H. MACRO, hair dresser
13, Miss H.M. HICKS, milliner
14, M. HICKS & Sons, bakers
15, G.H. HUDSON, watch maker

Number 6, now 252, was a butchers shop in 1891. In 1939 it was occupied by A. SPICER, as shown in this ad:

1939 ad

In the 1954 phone directory, it was occupied by HEARN & Sons, Family Butchers.

Number 7, now 250, was a wine merchants as shown in the 1925 directory. In the 1954 phone directory it was occupied by H.A. PAINE as Wine, Spirit Merchant. In 1967 it was called by Paines of Mitcham, trading as an off license, as shown in this ad:

1976 ad for 250 London Road