Category Archives: WW2

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.”

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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.

WW2 – Peter Pushman

From the CWGC:

Rank: Corporal
Service No: 1454610
Date of Death: 22/09/1944
Age: 28
Regiment/Service: South Staffordshire Regiment 2nd (Airborne) Bn.
Grave Reference: 22. A. 19.
Cemetery: ARNHEM OOSTERBEEK WAR CEMETERY

Additional Information:
Son of Bert and Elizabeth Pushman; husband of Sarah Charlotte Pushman, of Sandford-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.

The Mitcham News & Mercury, 17th November 1944 reported:

1944 November 17 Pushman death

SACRIFICE AT ARNHEM

Cp. Peter Pushman, second son of Mr. and Mrs. B. Pushman, of the old-established chimney sweeps in Mitcham. As reported in the “News and Mercury,” he was killed by a mortar bomb while with the Airborne troops at Arnhem.

In the 1930 Commercial Directory of Mitcham, Bert Pushman, chimney sweep, 113 Love Lane

WW2 – Charles Henry Hussey

From CWGC

Rank Private
Service No 6105871
Date of Death 15/10/1943
Age 37
Regiment/Service The Queen’s Royal Regiment (West Surrey) 1/7th Bn.
Grave Reference III. O. 18.
Cemetery NAPLES WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information Son of Charles and Elizabeth Hussey, of Mitcham, Surrey; husband of Mary Hussey, of Mitcham.

From electoral registers:

1930 : 29 Sibthorpe Road
Charles Hussey
Elizabeth Hussey
Charles Henry Hussey
Mary Hussey

1931: 29 Sibthorpe Road
Charles Hussey
Elizabeth Hussey

1931 : 82 Sibthorpe Road
Charles Hussey
Mary Hussey

1939 : 82 Sibthorpe Road
Charles Hussey
Mary Hussey

Mitcham Foundry and Engineering Ltd.

Based at the James Estate, corner of Bond Road and Western Road.

From the Mitcham and Tooting Advertiser, 18th August 1955

THE MITCHAM INDUSTRIALIST WHO BEAT THE NAVY EXPERTS
He solved U-boat secret

When the Navy captured a German U-boat during the early part of the war, an underwater metal cutter with an entirely unknown type of valve was discovered inside it.

Admiralty experts were stumped. They wanted to use similar valves on equipment in our own submarines, but did not know how they were made. Naval engineers started to draw up plans and meanwhile one of the small valves was sent to the Mitcham Foundry and Engineering Company.

Mr. Robert Badcoe, one of the two partners at the foundry, studied the valve carefully. He decided, after a lot of thought, that he could make one, and set about it.

The valve took 64 operations and contained 13 different threads, but it was soon completed and sent back to the Admiralty. A few days later blueprints arrived at Mitcham telling Mr. Badcoe how the valve could be made!

Work at the foundry ranges from the manufacture of cheese and sweet moulds to the building of underwater television equipment and secret components for Harwell, the atomic research centre.

Originally a workhouse, and, in the first world war a hospital, the foundry lies back from the Western Road near Mitcham Fair Green.

At a very early age, Mr. Badcoe, who now lives in Worcester Park, was apprenticed to a Tooting firm of carburettor manufacturers. Steadily he built up an extensive knowledge of the motoring and light engineering trade.

For a number of years he acted as a second mechanic to a Maserati motor racing team in this country.

Later, when the firm closed, Mr. Badcoe decided to take over the foundry at Mitcham and with his father-in-law, Mr. George Langlands, as a partner, gradually built up the business.

Mr. Badcoe, now nearing 60, is a man who believes in facing emergencies only when they arise and his 35 hand-picked and skilled men follow in his footsteps. They still refuse to wear protective clothing for their faces and hands although they are continually dealing with white hot molten metal.

When the war started the factory immediately began to manufacture shells, aeroplane parts, fire-fighting apparatus and metal air valves for frogmen’s breathing units.

The firm once received an order from the Air Ministry for thousands of aircraft parts for which over 80 tons of lead had to be used.

It was stored on the floor of one of the workshops, and a few days later, when workmen reached the bottom of the pile, they found that the weight had caused it to sink about four feet into the ground.

A big order which the foundry is dealing with at present is a speciality and they have often been called upon to make such things as jewellers’ lathes for Hatton Garden merchants.

Mr. Badcoe and his team are now working on a special type of outboard propellor unit for a Commonwealth Government.

Each unit is made up of hundreds of different parts and often the men have had to make their own jigs and fixtures.

(photo) Mr. Badcoe’s son, Christopher, places a finished unit among the other equipment for an important contract.

Note that some online company check websites show this company as number 00245458 at 174 London Road, CR4 3LD, the engineering works at the rear of the Swan.


James Estate
132 Western Road

Castings, Engineering.

Source:
Borough of Mitcham List of Factories,
Town Clerk’s Department,
July 1963.
Available at Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.
Reference L2 (670) MIT

1945 Aerial Photos of open spaces under cultivation

In 1948 the Borough Engineer reported the size and location of recreation grounds and open spaces that were allotments for the Dig For Victory campaign in World War 2.

These aerial photos are from 1945.

Figges Marsh

Figges Marsh

The Canons and Lower Green East

The Canons and Lower Green East

Cranmer Green

Cranmer Green

Deer Park Gardens

Deer Park Gardens

Mount Road

Mount Road

Lewis Road

Lewis Road

Pollards Hill

Pollards Hill

News of the World Sportsground Pillbox

From the Archaelogy Data Service Defence of Britain Data Archive, the pillbox next to the running track on the News of the World Sports ground can be seen, although there are no further details about it.

From the 1950s Map the size of the pillbox is measured at 71 feet by 84 feet.

Pillbox NS length

Pillbox WE length

Google Earth Canons Pillbox

Annoyingly, the entry on the Archaeology Database shows it as being in New Malden.

The Defence of Britain

Location: New Malden

Condition: Removed

Description: 03/1992 Pillbox, no specification.

Source: Corrected Defence of Britain Records Click here for more details

EDOBID: e14458

Last Edited:

Images: None