Tag Archives: 1973

1973 : News article on The Cricketers pub

In 1973, the Mitcham News & Mercury ran a series of articles on local pubs. Here is their report on The Cricketers, published on 16th November 1973:

Landlord Mr Charles Cromack with some of the Inn’s famous cricket pictures.

WARTIME PHOENIX BECAME TODAY’S CRICKETERS

THE worst moment for the Cricketers in Mitcham’s Cricket Green was when they had to decide whether to blow up the pub or the Vestry Hall.

It happened during the war when, with the compliments of the German air force, a land mine dropped between those two most important buildings in Mitcham.

The mine didn’t go off right away and the locals had time to put up a blast shield but, as any ex-air warden knows, there’s no point in setting it up on both sides of the bomb – there has to be somewhere for the blast to go.

There are still people in Mitcham who remember the arguments that raged over which building would be added to the list of bomb sites in the area. And there are some who reckon they made the wrong choice in saving the Vestry Hall.

Bar in store

But, finally, the bomb went off and that made way for the Cricketers as it is today. It was rebuilt about 15 years ago – just as the regulars were getting used to the bottle store behind the pub.

But whatever anyone says about the loss of the old pub which had graced the Cricket Green since the late 1700s, the new Cricketers is a worthy successor.

It has been going long enough not to have that fiercely modern look of the new or “done up” pub yet, it’s not so old as to be plain uncomfortable. And with the atmosphere it inherits from its cricketing tradition, it emerges, rightfully as a well-known pub of character.

The first thing you notice in the lounge bar are the dozens of photographs of cricketing “greats”. A long line of former county players stare down slightly disapprovingly as the customers line up at the bar and the whole of one wall is given over to a colour photograph of Mitcham playing Streatham on the cricket green. On the way to the gents there is a collection of cartoons depicting the rules of cricket.

But, then, it’s only right that the pub should hang on to some of its history – after all, for years it was used as the pavilion.

Atmosphere of a different kind is provided by the licensee, Charles Cromack. He’s an enormous man, given largely to blue suits and yacht club ties, who seems to spend most of his time on the outside of the bar where he calls for drinks on the house as if the stuff was still a penny a pint.

With him is his wife, Joan, with her pewter goblet from the London Victuallers Golfing Association. Together they make the ideal couple to run a pub where businessmen come in to unwind.

They come from the executive floors on the local industrial estates and from the many offices fronting the cricket green. Dozens of them make the daily trek to the pub where they set about a lager, a laugh and lunch.

Overseas representative for Downs Bros of Church Path, Mr. Richard Dickinson, said: “We mostly come here for the beer – after all it is real beer, from the wood. But then there’s the food as well. I think the Cricketers serves real pub food and, for that, it’s one of the best in the area.”

Down’s Transport manager, Mr. Peter Galtrey was there too: “I like to eat in the bar as a rule but people entertaining clients can go in the restaurant upstairs. Anyway, you generally find the lunches here are pretty good.”

And so they are, Charles Cromack admits: “I suppose the food here is as important as the drink. Our restaurant does very well.”

The restaurant is really a small meeting room cosily decorated with a red colour scheme and complete with bar and barmaid. It is perhaps too small, giving the impression of a country tea shop but there’s a good meal to be had there with melon and 8oz. steak, mushrooms, tomatoes, peas and potatoes, then a cheese board and coffee at £1.58p.

For those who prefer to eat in the bar, a good helping of real home-made steak, kidney and mushroom pie comes at 27p and chips and peas at 7p a portion.

Penny bonus

A ham sandwich costs 18p and arrives with a knife.

Service is good and quick, and very reasonable considering there always seem to be about five people milling around behind the bar. Barmaid Irene Hogg, the pub’s 53-years-old heart-throb, dishes out a warm wlcome and refers to everyone under 90 as “young man.”

A bonus heart-throb is 25-years-old Penny Balsom, a very shapely clerk at the borough’s health department in the Vestry Hall. All eyes swivel towards the door when she walks in with an absurdly unintentional sex appeal.

The lunching businessmen were most flattering in their comments but none of them wanted to be quoted: “Wouldn’t want the wife to see it, old man . . . ”

Auburn-haired Penny just opened her eyes very, very wide and said: “I never knew I was any sort of a mascot or anything. I just come here because it’s handy at lunch time and I like the people.”

There was an immediate murmur of approval at these words.

Finding out why the regulars in the public bar liked the Cricketers was more difficult. Almost to a man they said it was the lousiest pub in Mitcham, and Jim Goodsell added that the governor wasn’t too sociable in the “public”. Why not go somewhere else then?

“Because he comes here,” he said and pointed to his brother Fred.

Argument

Fred Goodsell thought for a moment, hesitated over saying he was only there because Jim was there, and finished up with: “You can always find a good argument in here.”

Immediately he had one. New faces popped up to say it was the only place you could get decent beer while others came to play crib or darts.

Certainly none of them could have been attracted by the bar itself. It seems to have missed out on all the effort that produced all those cricketers in the lounge. Instead there is dark green wallpaper, peeling at the edges and an obscene sort of trough at the foot of the bar which catches cigarette ends.

But there’s a lot to make up for it. Just outside the public bar is a rose garden and, although there’s plenty of traffic noise, it’s a real suntrap in the summer.

Strangely enough, not many people seem to know about this, most of them sit out in front of the pub where they can rest their feet on the bumpers of cars in the car park and catch glimpses of the cricket green through the traffic.

The Cricketers isn’t a big pub so there’s no room for bar billiards or any of the more traditional pub games but there’s a flourishing darts club and a football team; every year there’s a coach outing to the races at Goodwood.

The public bar has a TV and in both bars are one-arm bandits which pay out a ceiling of 10p in cash and the rest in tokens.

There is no juke-box – which gives the lads in the public bar something to moan about; but there is piped music on tape.

Mild, disappearing from most pubs these days, is still on draught at the Cricketers; bitter comes from the wood as well. There’s draught Guinness, draught lager and Worthington “White Shield”, as well.

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Gardeners Arms Pub Sign

The Gardeners Arms pub, 107 London Road, Mitcham, had a heraldic style sign hanging from a post in the centre of the wall on the upper floor. In November 2017, the sign couldn’t be found by the new landlord.

There are three photographs on Merton Memories, and none show a sign attached, for example, this one from 1989:

Clip from Merton Memories photo Mit_21_11-2 copyright London Borough of Merton.

This undated black an white photo shows flower baskets hanging from the wall:

Clip from Merton Memories photo Mit_21_11-1 copyright London Borough of Merton.

The late Eric Montague, of the Merton Historical Society, took a slide of 109 & 111 London Road in 1966, and this included the pub, which has no sign.

A 1973 photo on the Collage collection also doesn’t show the sign:

1973

The only photograph found so far showing the sign is from Google Street View, from 2008:-

The sign is blurred when zooming in, but what can be seen is shield with a blue background, a white chevron with two objects above and three or more below. The shield has two supporters, one of which may be a gardener. The Surrey Coats of Arms, online at the Surrey History centre website, have been searched for Mitcham arms, and none of these have a field of blue with a white chevron.

Street View of 2012 shows no sign:

2012

1973 Elton John visits Pye record factory

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 30th November, 1973.

Elton John visited the Pye record factory on Monday 26th November, 1973.

“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road … hello Western Road, Mitcham.” This could have been the theme of a visit made by the top pop star Elton John when he visited the Pye Factory, Western-road, Mitcham on Monday and watched some of his discs being pressed. Pictured with him is supervisor Mr Ken Spink.

R.A. Stephen & Co., Ltd.

120/126 Lavender Avenue

Instrument Makers
Light Engineers

As listed in the 1963 Borough of Mitcham List of Factories.
Available at Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.
Reference L2 (670) MIT

Ad from 1973 gives address as Miles Road:

WOMEN REQUIRED
FOR
MACHINE & ASSEMBLY WORK
40 hr. week. Starting at £17.30, plus time keeping bonus.
Long service pay. Canteen facilities. Sick pay.
R. A. STEPHEN & CO. LTD., Miles Road, Mitcham, Surrey.
Telephone: 01-648-1668.

Joy’s Cafe

From the Mitcham and Colliers Wood Gazette, 28th March, 1973

"THE derelict cafe - more an eyesore than a joy"

“THE derelict cafe – more an eyesore than a joy”

HEALTH HAZARD PROTEST

JOY’S “PLACE” was once a popular transport cafe. But now it’s got a new use — as one of the dirtiest unofficial public conveniences in Mitcham, claim angry local residents.

The cafe is on a site at the corner of Christchurch-road and Phipps Bridge-road. It closed 18 months ago, but so far there’s no sign of the building being demolished and the site cleared.

“They should put a match to the place. It’s disgusting. It’s a loo for all and sundry and a rubbish dump. The place has become an eyesore and the sooner it goes the better. Everyone round here has become fed up with it” said Mrs Doreen Sparrowhawk, who runs a greengrocers shop opposite the site.

“By now it must be full of disease and germs — but because there is no door on the place children go and play in it” she added.

Mr Michael Tuhill, who runs a newsagents in Christchurch-road, said: “It’s an unofficial public convenience. People pull up in cars and use it and it’s getting a bad name. The council don’t seem to be interested in doing anything about it but its a health hazard as children play in and out of it as well. Heaven knows what they could pick up by playing in it.”

‘Filthy place’

Mrs Shelly Condron, who runs a hairdressers opposite the cafe, said that lorry drivers who used to eat at the cafe when it was open now use it as a lavatory.

“We’ve spoken to them about it but you just get a lot of lip back. Its a filthy place and everyone round here would like to see something done about it.” she said.

The door of the cafe was torn off soon after it was closed. Now, it is full of rubbish with chairs and tables left inside broken.

“No-one knows what happened to the people who ran it. I think the proprietress died and one day it shut up and has been closed and like that ever since” said Mrs Sparrowhawk.

A spokesman for Merton’s surveyors department said that they were aware that there were problems arising from the derelict cafe. But there are redevelopment problems on this site and consequently there has had to be a delay on a development decision. But as soon as we are able to do so the site will be cleared” he said.

1973 Life is hell for the forgotten residents of Chapel Road

The view from the houses in Chapel Road

The view from the houses in Chapel Road


From the Mitcham and Collier’s Wood Gazette, January 1973

Life is hell for the `forgotten’ residents

PEOPLE living under the shadow of redevelopment in Chapel-road, Mitcham, claimed this week that the area was being over-run with rats. And they protested that empty houses in the area were a target for vandals.

“We all had a letter last September telling us that the council were buying the houses under a compulsory purchase order and that we were to be rehoused” said 59-years-old Mrs Beatrice Tee.

“But since then—nothing. Just rumours. We live on rumours while the road and our homes go to rack and ruin.” She said several tenants had moved out leaving a row of empty homes which were making life hell for the people who were left.

“The children play in them and break the windows. In one, they dislodged a pipe and water was pouring out of it for nine weeks.”

Her neighbour Mrs Daisy Reeve, aged 51, has lived in Chapel-road for 31 years. “We wonder whats going to happen to us. The council seem to have forgotten this road—even the dustman neglect us and we are lucky if we get our rubbish collected once a fortnight.” she said.

Pensioner Mrs Annie Blackburn, aged 83, has lived in Chapel-road for 50 years. “We had loads of rats running along the road last week. This street seems to have become a dump for everyone to leave their rubbish.” she said.

Agents for the houses are Fair Bedford of Southall, “we appreciate that the tenants are in a difficult situation and we would like the council to take the houses over as soon as possible. The owner is in the same state of uncertainty as the tenants” said a spokesman.

Chapel-road lies within an area due to be developed by the Greater London Council ex-plained Merton’s Deputy Town Clerk Mr Geoffrey Norris.

“We are acquiring the property on behalf of the GLC and at the moment are waiting for a date for a public inquiry from the Department of the Environment” he said.

“We expect this be to in April and it is likely that a decision will be made in the autumn Redevelopment will then start.”

He said he would look into the complaints.

Barclays Bank, Fair Green

The Barclays Bank that opened at 6 Fair Green Parade was a sub-branch of the branch on the corner of 342 London Road and Lower Green West.

It possibly opened in 1958 as the telephone directory of that year lists the number as MITcham 7730. Fair Green Parade was built around 1953.

6 Fair Green Parade. Photo courtesy of Barclays Group Archives

6 Fair Green Parade. Photo courtesy of Barclays Group Archives

Interior of 6 Fair Green Parade. Courtesy of Barclays Group Archives.

Interior of 6 Fair Green Parade. Photo courtesy of Barclays Group Archives.

This branch moved in 1973 to a new building on the corner of Montrose Gardens, see newspaper article below.

29/31 Upper Green East. Photo courtesy of Barclays Group Archives

29/31 Upper Green East. Photo courtesy of Barclays Group Archives

39/41 Upper Green East. Photo courtesy of Barclays Group Archives

39/41 Upper Green East. Photo courtesy of Barclays Group Archives

BANK’S NEW OFFICES TO OPEN SOON

STAFF at Mitcham’s branch of Barclays Bank are soon to move into their new offices at Upper Green East.

And, promises manager Mr James Crocker, banking will be a lot pleasanter for both customers and staff than at the present cramped quarters in Fair Green-parade.

“We are hoping to move some time in mid-April and the new building on the other side of Fair Green will be much bigger, with six tills and a carpeted banking hall.” he said.

There will be an upstairs rest room and more toilet facilities for the staff.

The branch was a sub branch of the Barclays branch at Cricket Green when it opened several years ago.

“It was decided to make it a full branch as business has expanded a great deal in Mitcham,” said Mr Crocket. “Also we have to consider that a new supermarket is opening and probably more shops with the new central redevelopment.”

The staff of eleven at the present branch were working in very cramped conditions he added. “Now, with so much more room we will be having more staff.”

Source: Mitcham & Collier’s wood Gazette, 31st January 1973