Tag Archives: 1947

Romany School of Dancing

Elsie and Bobby Smith started giving dancing lesson in Monarch Parade in the early 1940s, according to a contributor to the Facebook Mitcham History Group. An ad from 1962 said that they had been established for 21 years, giving their start year as 1941.

In 1947, this ad shows that they were teaching at the Majestic cinema:

Learn to Dance at Mitcham's Most MODERN BALLROOM  Romany School of Dancing Elsie & Bobby Smith (N.A.T.D.) now at Majestic Mitcham. Beginners Classes : Mon & Thurs Intermediate Classes : Tues & Fri Dances : Wed & Sat. Private Lessons by Appointment

Learn to Dance at Mitcham’s Most MODERN BALLROOM
Romany School of Dancing
Elsie & Bobby Smith (N.A.T.D.)
now at Majestic Mitcham.
Beginners Classes : Mon & Thurs
Intermediate Classes : Tues & Fri
Dances : Wed & Sat.
Private Lessons by Appointment

This ad from 1959 shows that they had moved to their own premises, at the rear of 484 London Road:

1959 ad

1959 ad


Elsie and Bobby Smith, N.A.T.D., invite you to dance at the


482, London Road, Mitcham.

Strict beginners classes, Mondays & Thursdays, 8-10.30, 2/6.

Beginners and Intermediate

Old Time 8-11 2/6.

Over 25’s Beginners 8-11

Children’s Ballroom Class
10.30-12. 1/-.


For Enquiries : ‘Phone MITCHAM 4329.

STAGE BRANCH : Ballet – Tap – Modern Dance – Acrobatic Class Daily

This 1953 OS map shows the Dance Hall:

1953 OS Map

1953 OS Map

Ad from 1962 shows the introduction of a ‘Rock n Roll Club’ on Saturday nights:

1962 ad

1962 ad

Text of ad:

ROMANY’ School of Dancing
Est. 21 years
Principals : Elsie and Bobby Smith, N.A.T.D.
482 LONDON RD, MITCHAM (opp. Mitcham Stn.). Tel. MIT 4329

Monday – BEGINNERS ONLY, expert tuition, 8-10.30 p.m. 2/6
Tuesday – HOLIDAY COURSE CLASS, 8-10.30 p.m. ……… 2/6
(Special tuition for every kind of holiday dancing)
Thursday – BEGINNERS and INTERMEDIATE, 8-10.30 p.m. 2/6
Friday – Over 25s, Beginners and Intermediate, 8-10.30 p.m. 2/6
Saturday morning – Children’s Ballroom, 10.30 a.m. – 12 noon ……1/-
Saturday night – ROCK ’N’ ROLL CLUB, 7.30-11 p.m. …… 3/-
Sunday – OLD TIME CLASS and PRACTICE, 7.30-10.30 p.m. 3/-

STAGE BRANCH – Tuesdays and Fridays, 4.30 p.m.

Private Lessons Daily

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


Bridge Road

Road that was off east, or right-hand, side of Christchurch Road, opposite Runnymede. It was closed in 1966.

In this 1952 OS map, the road is shown with a single terrace of eleven houses on the north side, numbered sequentially 1 to 11.

1952 OS map

1952 OS map

Aerial photo from 1947 shows the row of houses on the left side of the road.

29th April 1947 from Britain From Above

29th April 1947 from Britain From Above

Aerial photo from 1949 shows the road looking to the west. The dome atop the tower on the right was Frys Metals factory.

19th March 1949 from Britain From Above

19th March 1949 from Britain From Above

It is not mentioned in the 1891 street directory, but there are two houses listed in the 1896 street directory and all eleven in the 1904 street directory:


1, James CAVENDER, stationer
2, John STOPHER, greengrocer


1, James CAVENDER, stationer
2, Arthur Thomas THORNS, greengrocer
3, Auburn Frederick ISACKE
4, Austin C HOLLANDS
5, William SHARPE
6, Arthur Albert FRISBY
7, Charles TAYLOR
8, Arthur SWINDELL
9, Robert SWINDELL
10, Edwin YOUNG
11, William YOUNG

The road was closed in 1966:

Bridge Road is to be closed down

Bridge Road, a cul-de-sac off Christchurch Road, Mitcham is to be closed. Merton Council have given planning permission to Frys Metal Foundries Ltd., for redevelopment which involves the closing of the road.

The road was originally the principle means of access to residential properties which have since been demolished. It now serves the factory premises only.


The council agreed to give permission provided the council’s right of adequate access to the public sewers were preserved.

Also provided that the owner of the factory should take over the responsibility for the street lamps and cables in the road, and also bear any costs incurred in closing the road.

Frys have also offered land near Bridge Road to the council free of charge for the proposed widening of Christchurch Road. The offer has been accepted.

Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 13th May, 1966, page 1.

Occupants in 1939

1, Leonard Douglas and Elizabeth HAYNES
2, Mary Jane and Rosa FISK
3, William Charles and Alice Louisa and Christopher ADAMS
4, James and Maude BURLING
5, Robert and Gertrude MARSHALL
6, Alfred and Mabel Frances FORD
7, Robert and Doris May TAYLOR; Edith Mahala FRISWELL
8, James Alfred and Sarah Ellen DURLING
9, Henry William and Rose Florence and Florance DALTON
10, Ernest John and Flora BURLING
11, Charles Walter and Susan FRANCIS

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

Wandsworth Gas Company’s Coal Ship “Mitcham”


THE LAST WORD IN “FLAT IRONS”: The 1,780-ton coasting collier “Mitcham,” the Wandsworth Gas Company’s new vessel, seen on the Thames at Wandsworth after negotiating the fifteen miles of river from the estuary. When she turns round at Wandsworth there is little room for other traffic to pass. The “Mitcham” has a squat funnel to save her lowering it at each bridge, and her collapsible masts are stepped down into the holds.

The Wandsworth Gas Company are adding several new ships to their fleet, and the “Mitcham” bears a close resemblance to the “Chessington,” details of which were given in “The Sphere” of June 29. She is equipped with sloping wing ballast-tanks, which ensure that the cargo automatically precipitates itself to within the range of the mechanical grabs during the discharging operations.

Source: The Sphere – Saturday 02 November 1946 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)


AN IMPORTANT ADDITION TO LONDON’S COLLIER FLEET : A diagrammatic drawing of the S.S. “Chessington,” the largest vessel to pass the Thames bridges. The “Chessington,” belonging to the Wandsworth and District Gas Company, is known as a “flat-iron,” and she is able to carry 2,700 tons of coal on each trip from the Durham coalfields. The ”Chessington” recently completed her maiden voyage, attracting much attention as she came upstream beyond the Pool and Westminster Bridge. She is nearly 260 ft. long, and as she passes under the bridges her funnel lowers in the usual manner and her masts telescope into the holds. The “Chessington” is equipped with sloping wing ballast tanks which ensure that the cargo automatically precipitates itself to within the range of the grabs during discharging operations. The general lay-out of the ship is of much improved pattern, and special attention has been paid to the officers’ and men’s quarters.

Drawing by S. E. Beck

Source: The Sphere – Saturday 29 June 1946 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)


How They Bring The Coal To London

The Colliers which Supply the Gas Works abd the Power Stations

The fuel crisis has thrown into high relief the role of the Thames up-river colliers, the “flat-irons” which supply the gasworks and the power stations with the vital fuel to keep the lights of London burning.

Some of these colliers come from South Wales, making the trip down the Bristol Channel, round Land’s End, through the Straits of Dover and into the Thames Estuary. The majority, however, come from Tyne and Humber ports, and it is upon these that attention has been focused during the recent fateful week.

From Tyne to Thames is no long voyage, but it is very much London’s lifeline and, thanks to the devoted work of the collier skippers and their cres, who through their way through the February gales and ice-floes, London power stations will once again able to build up their stocks. Many of those same men, it must be remembered, braved the perils of the same East Coast trip when they had more than weather to contend with – first the magnetic mine and then the E-boat constantly menacing the ships as they came south laden with their precious cargoes.

The largest of these ships are found in the Wandsworth and District Gas Company’s fleet, whose works are situated the farthest upstream. Their ships have to negotiate seventeen bridges before they can reach their discharging-point at Wandsworth. This Company has for long set the standard for the design of these of ships, and practically each their ships has been, when built, the largest in this trade. Now they have the first diesel driven “flat-iron” the Mitcham, which can carry a total of 2,700 tons of coal. This compares with 1250 tons for the pioneer ship Wandle of 1909 and 600 tons for the first screw collier, John Bowes, which in turn carried about twice as much as a collier brig.

Depth of water and amounts of head room under bridges are items of paramount importance in up river navigation, and it is essential for the ships to arrive at the wharf during the latter stages the flood-tide. After cargo has been discharged the passage down-river must be begun as soon as the flood-tide appears, for in this light condition the vessel is much higher out of the water.

Source: The Sphere – Saturday 08 March 1947 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

1947 Rubber Dump Fire


200 Firemen Fight Worst Blaze Since Blitzes

INTENSE heat in London — the temperature in the afternoon rising to 90 degrees — was thought responsible for the outbreak of one of the worst fires for many months. The great fire broke out in a Government rubber dump near Mitcham Common. Thousands of tons of rubber blazed and 200 firemen were faced with an all-night task. The scene was reminiscent of blazing Nazi oil dumps bombed by the R.A.F. in the war.

More than 30 fire engines were rushed from all parts of South London to cope with the blaze, the fire assuming alarming proportions.

The fire spread rapidly and quickly reached a factory. Heavy smoke clouds drifted across Mitcham Common toward Streatham, and surrounding property was threatened by the blaze.

Thousands tons of scrap rubber blazed while firemen were trying to get a hose working. They were handicapped by the distance the nearest available water supply — the River Wandle — and were trying to prevent the fire from reaching two builders’ yards. The dump is controlled the Board Trade.


Gangs of men worked to clear fire ” break” between the dump and surrounding houses. The N.F.S. later said the fire was the biggest this year and for quite some time previously.” One eyewitness said: “It is an amazing sight—like the pictures blazing Nazi oil dumps bombed by the R.A.F.”

There was a “general call out” to fire brigades. Over 200 firemen using “walkie-talkie” apparatus fought the fire and four hoselaying lorries ran hoses from the Wandle.

At the dump were 10,000 tons rubber, including 3,000 tons of tyres worth about £40,000 to £50,000.


About 120 employees of the adjoining factory of Bryans Aeroquipment, Ltd., formed a bucket chain, and the factory girls provided water, lemonade, and biscuits to firemen exhausted by the heat. One of the firemen, overcome by the heat and fumes, was removed to hospital.

Firemen were at work all night. Some of them said they expected the dump to smoulder for a week.

Smoke from the fire blacked out the sun in Central London, ten miles away. Some onlookers likened a mushroom-like column of smoke stretching from the heart of the fire to pictures of the atom bomb explosions.

Source: Western Morning News – Tuesday 03 June 1947 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

There are 9 photos on Merton Memories.

New Close

Built in 1936/7, a council housing estate originally of 95 houses and 3 flats.

Bought for £14,475 from Messrs Clarkson by Mitcham Borough Council for rehousing people made homeless by the Explosion, and for their slum clearance programme.

1935 New Close Clarksons Land sale to Mitcham

1935 Map of land bought by the Council

This 1952 OS map shows that the estate had its own fire alarm post (FAP), next to number 2.

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 29th May, 1936:

“Laying out of housing estate”

Reporting on the lay-out plan of New Close Housing Estate, the Borough Engineer, Mr Riley Schofield, said it allowed the erection of 135 houses. The density on the land purchased, viz. 9.70 acres plus one half of the width of Phipp’s Bridge road, and one half of the railway, a total of 11.149 acres worked out at 12.1 houses per acre.

A portion of the estate accommodating 36 houses might not be proceeded with, leaving 99 houses for immediate development.

It was proposed to erect a disinfection house, to be isolated in the south-east corner of the property.

The size of the houses provided for a living-room, scullery, W.C., and bathroom and larder on the ground floor and three bedrooms on the first floor and for the provision of a shed at the rear of each house. A proportion of the houses to have more than three bedrooms.

The Council approved the plan.

Housing Committee, Thursday, October 10th, 1935


-Messrs. Chart, Son and Reading reported that they had been in communication, on behalf of the Council, with Messrs. Clarkson for the acquisition of 9 1/2 acres in Phipps Bridge Road, and that the terms upon which Messrs. Clarkson were prepared to sell were, that the total sum to be paid for the land should be £14,475, and that of this sum £12,047 should be paid upon possession being given of 8 acres 0 roods, 5 perches, and that the balance of the purchase money should be paid on vacant possession being given of the remainder of the land either on the death of Mrs. Clarkson or earlier if Mrs. Clarkson ceases to occupy New Close House. The Town Clerk reported that these conditions had been referred to the District Valuer for his observations, and a report had been received from the District Valuer stating that he was prepared to support an application for a loan at this figure.

Resolved. That the Council be recommended to purchase the site at the price quoted, and that application be made to the Minister of Health to sanction a loan of £14,600 for this purpose.

Source: Proceedings of the Council and committees, Mitcham Borough Council, Volume 1 1934-35 pages 980-1

Finance and General Purposes Committee
Tuesday, 21st July 1936

8. Nameing of New Street
– That in lieu of “New Close” suggested in the report of the Housing Committee, the name of “Jarrow Road” be substituted.

Source: Proceedings of the Council and committees, Mitcham Borough Council, Volume 2 1935-36 page 841

Highways, New Buildings, Lighting and Public Works Committee
Thursday, October 14, 1937

New Close Estate.
-It was Resolved, That his worship the Mayor be asked to hand over officially the New Close Housing Estate to the Housing Committee on Saturday, October 23.

Source: Proceedings of the Council and committees, Mitcham Borough Council, Volume 3 1936-37 page 1065

November 12, 1937

New Close Housing Estate

– The Borough Engineer reported that he had received a quotation from the Wandsworth Gas. Co. for the carcassing required for 95 houses and 3 flats for gas services, amounting to £176 12s., and that he had also received an offer from the company to supply 98 slightly used reconditioned gas cookers at the reduced price of £5 each.

Resolved, That the quotation and offer submitted by the Wandsworth Gas Co. be accepted and the order placed accordingly.

Source: Proceedings of the Council and committees, Mitcham Borough Council, Volume 3 1936-37

From the minutes of Housing Committee
11th December 1947
page 151


The tenant of 36, New Close, has erected a 15-ft. long pigeon loft without first having first obtained the Council’s permission. I shall be glad of the Committee’s instructions.

I am, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Your obedient servant,
Housing Manager

Resolved – That the tenant be instructed to remove forthwith the pigeon loft which has been erected without permission.

The name ‘New Close’ can be traced back to the 17th century. Deeds published in the Harvard Law Library mention a lease from that Richard Garth for ‘New Close’.

Lease, 1633, January 19. 8 Charles I. 1 Item : parchment ; 42 x 58 cm.


Lease between Richard Garth, esq., of Morden (Surrey) and Dame Dorothy Capell of Morden of a new brick house in Morden, with all out houses, barns, etc., with 1 adjoining close called “the Marsh Close,” containing 5 acres, another called “New Close,” containing 5 1/2 acres, another called “Great Parkelandes,” containing 13 acres, another called “Little Parkelandes,” containing 8 acres, another called “Grube Close,” containing 3 acres, and another called “Water Dens,” as now it is enclosed, containing 8 1/2 acres; except and always reserved all woods, timbers, and trees now standing, etc., with all hunting, for 21 years (if she live so long) from last Michaelmas, at the annual rent of £30 5s. Signed: Dorothy Capell.

WITNESSES: Edward Straynge, James Grantham, William Mathewe.

NAMES: I. Garth, Richard. R. Capell, Dorothy, Dame. III. Straing, Edward. IV. Grantham, James. V. Mathew, William.

SUBJECTS: I. Deeds—England—Surrey. 2. Deeds—England—Morden. 3. Surrey (England)—Charters, grants, privileges. 4. Morden (England)—Charters, grata, privileges.

Source: Harvard Law Library, though this text is no longer online
Retrieved: 2007
This text can also be seen online as part of a Google Books search.

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

Hygienic Wireworks

79 Miles Road

Sheet Metal and Wire Work

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

From Grace’s Guide:

Sheet metal and wire workers of Mitcham.
1850 Company founded.
1925 Private company.
1961 Sheet metal and wire workers, producing Genykage cages, Blend occasional furniture, Genyk hardware products, fireguards, plastic coated wire work, bathroom cabinets, meat safes, saucepan stands. 250 employees.

From 11th Feb 1977, newspaper ad for

£1.60 per hour plus overtime.
We produce Presswork and Wirework, and require toolmakers to manufacture and maintain our presstools and welding fixtures. Apply to:

Derek Bennett,
Genyk Products Ltd
Miles Road, Mitcham, Surrey
Telephone : 648 7071

19770211 wireworks job ad

Company bought by Spillers in around 1969.

Then bought by Chapman Seating, according to their website:

Chapman Seating purchased Genyk Products Limited and their factory at Mitcham in South London from the Spillers Group and all the pet type products including bird and hamster cages ceased production as they were no longer economical or viable in a diminishing pet market. Chapman Seating moved to this factory and traded under the Genyk Products name for a while, but the trading name reverted to the well known and respected Chapman Seating again after two years.

1947 Miles Road

From Britain From Above

These photos have been kindly provided by a user from the Facebook Mitcham History Group:


1969 Bill receives his long term service award

1969 Bill Stephens receives his long term service award

1969 Bill receives a watch for 55 years with the company

1969 Bill Stephens receives a watch for 55 years with the company

Bill Stephens (1900-1987) joined the company in 1914 at the age of 14, when the company started in Peckham, and he and his family moved to Mitcham when the factory was established there. He completed 55 years’ service in 1969.

His two brothers, George (1903-1970) and Charles (1902-1984), also worked for the company, and both lost their sight because of that work. One of the brothers worked with chromium plating and acid splashed into his face, damaging his eyes. He lived a 5 minute walk from the factory, and was able to continue working there.

Another fellow on the Facebook Mitcham History Group said

I worked there around 1965, brazing fire guards……abysmal. There were two of us, one loaded while the other brazed them together, it was a bonus system so no let up for the 8 hrs you were there, couldn’t let your partner down. I remember spot welding machines that spat out white hot steel that sometimes went into your shoe – ouch !!!

Adverts from 1962


Articles from the British Newspaper Archives

25th January 1946



FEE 10/- inclusive of sleeping accommodation (if required) and meals.


“ Practical Aspects Industrial Nursing.”

Miss M. M. Durrant, Sister-in-Charge, The Hygienic Wire Works Ltd., Mitcham.

Source: Nottingham Evening Post – Friday 25 January 1946 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

Pear Tree Close

Built by Mitcham Borough Council and completed in 1934, to rehouse some of the people made homeless by the Explosion. Due to the white rendered walls of the houses, it had the nickname ‘White City’.

The development consisted of 9 blocks of a total of 48 terraced houses, which included odd numbers 103 to 121 Love Lane and 12 to 17 inclusive in Westfield Road.

This 1932 OS map shows the area occupied by nurseries before Pear Tree Close, Taffy’s How and Walnut Tree Avenue were built.

1932 OS map

1938 OS map

The average cost per house was £36 for the land, £27 for the road and sewers and £305 for the building.

From the minutes of Housing Committee
11th December 1947
page 151

No. 20 Pear Tree Close

The w.c. pan at the above house was broken by a cat jumping through the open window and knocking over a bottle which cracked the pan. I shall be glad of the Committee’s instructions as to whether or not the tenant is to be charged.

I am, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Your obedient servant,
Housing Manager

Resolved – That the cost of repair be borne by the Council

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