Tag Archives: Bath Road

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.”

Advertisements

1926 : Lower Mitcham Schoolboys’ Novel Jazz Band at Christmas

THE DUSTMEN’S CART SYMPHONY.

Schoolboys’ Novel Jazz Band.

“The Bath Road Symphony,” a musical medley descriptive of life in one of the poorest quarters of Mitcham, London, was publicly performed for the first time by Lower Mitcham schoolboys, whose instruments were made up of things found in the dustmen’s carts.

The boys were dressed as dustmen, and the instruments were old saucepans, knives and forks, combs, biscuit tins, pieces of bamboo, curtain rods cut into the form whistles, glass jam jars, and a bass drum made out of galvanised iron bath.

For Christmas Gifts.

The youthful conductor beat time with soup ladle, and, it is said, really excellent music was produced from the extraordinary assortment of instruments. The medley was arranged by Mr H. C. Toller, one of the masters.

Mr F. C. Stone, the headmaster, arranged the concert to provide Christmas cheer for the 350 boys school, of whom, he said, had never received a Christmas present in their lives.

In addition to the symphony orchestra, there was a boys’ mouth organ band, which played popular songs like experts, and bone duets by other boys.

Source: Dundee Evening Telegraph – Thursday 16 December 1926 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

1886 Inquest

Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 05 June 1886

INQUEST.

—Mr. W. P. Morrison, district coroner held inquiry at the Bath Tavern, Thursday, touching the death Richard John Johnson, aged two years, whose parents reside at 4, Bath-road, Mitcham. From the evidence it appears that the deceased had from his birth suffered from bronchial affection. On Monday evening the child became worse, when Dr. Love was sent for, and after prescribing for the child he said he would call see it in the morning. Before he could attend the next morning he was informed that the child had died. Subsequently he found that the child had suffered from acute bronchial congestion.

—On the evidence the doctor the jury found verdict of “Death from natural causes.”

1883 Destructive Fire at Varnish Factory

Surrey Mirror – Saturday 17 November 1883

Destructive Fire at Mitcham.

—Up to a late hour on Wednesday night the Croydon, Wimbledon, Sutton, Carshalton, and Tooting Fire Brigade were engaged at a destructive fire that had broken out at a varnish factory, situated at Westfield, Bath-road, Mitcham, and in the occupation of Messrs. James Crease and Sons, 29, Cow-cross, Smithfield, E.C. The call was conveyed through the police to the Croydon Corporation Brigade at 4.27 p.m., and when Superintendent Tennuei arrived with a steamer, fully manned, he found the building comprising a block, measuring 50ft. by 40ft., in flames, it was at once seen that there was no hope of of saving the boiler, running-off, finishing, and store rooms, and although engines arrived from the above mentioned stations in quick succession, the factory was destroyed with its contents. The fire was caused by the upsetting of a turpentine pot. Henry Fillsars, aged 39 years, the foreman of the works, and William Skelton, a workman, were badly burned about the face and hands, and removed to their homes. The damage is estimated at between £1500 and £2000. The building is insured.

Notes
1. Henry Fellows, not Fillsars, is listed in 1881 census living in Bath Road as an ‘Oil and Colourman’

1879 Drunkeness and Alleged Assault

Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 05 April 1879

Drunkeness and Alleged Assault

At the Croydon Police-court on Monday James Stone, a labourer, of Rock-terrace, Mitcham, was charged with being drunk and disorderly, and also with assaulting Charlotte Stone.

—P.-c. 241 W stated that on the previous night he heard cries of “Murder” in Bath-terrace, and on proceeding there he found Charlotte Stone leaning against some railings, moaning, and with her clothes torn. He accused the prisoner of having assaulted her, and, as he was drunk, witness took him into custody.

— William Gregory, of 3, Bath-terrace, Bath-road, Mitcham, stated that prisoner and his sister, Charlotte Stone, had quarrelled, and he described the conduct of the woman, who was a prostitute, as having been of a very aggravating character.

—Caroline Stone, sister of Charlotte Stone, having also made a statement, Mr. Edridge said the parties were a bad lot altogether. He ordered the prisoner to pay a fine of 10s. and 9s. coats, for being drunk and disorderly, and intimated that if the money were not paid by four o’clock the prisoner would be sent to the House of Correction for a week.

John Robert Nicholls

Varnish manufacturer, see Nicholl’s Varnish Factory

Stories
Sussex Agricultural Express – Tuesday 23 October 1877

Assaulting an Old Man

JOHN Nichols, varnish manufacturer, Bath-road, Mitcham, was ordered to give John Adams, of Queen’s-road, Mitcham, 5s. for assaulting him on Oct. 19th, and to pay 5s. costs.—It appeared that complainant was gathering dandylions on Mr. Bridges’s land, when defendant came up, took his bag, and gave it to a dog he had with him. Complainant asked defendant to give it him back, when he used bad language to him, and when he asked defendant again for the bag, struck him in the head, and knocked him down, causing him to be insensible, and then struck him several times. Defendant also took his fork away, and threw it on to other premises, so he lost it.

—By Mr. Parry (who appeared for defendant): The dog did not take his bag, and he (complainant) did not threaten to run his fork through the dog.


Death reported in Sutton Advertiser of 13th September 1890

DEATH OF MR. JOHN NICHOLLS.

-With deep regret we have to record the death of the above-named gentleman, which took place on Thursday afternoon at 4.30. Deceased, who was in his 61st year, started life at what is known as the bottom of the ladder, and by his own industry, business-like habits, and far-sightedness raised himself to the position of a well-to-do market-gardener. He has filled nearly all the local public offices, and was at the time of his death Chairman of the Board of Way-wardens for the Croydon district, a Guardian of the poor, and a Lighting Inspector for the parish of Mitcham. Though perhaps not so eloquent as some of his colleagues, his practical experience was of great service on many occasions to the Rural Sanitary Authority, and he will be much missed by that body. Mr. Nicholls had been ailing for some considerable time, but had only been confined to his house for about five weeks. The death of his wife, which occurred about two years since, was a severe blow from which he never really recovered. Among the workpeople, by whom he was warmly esteemed as a kind and just employer, he will be sorely missed. As the arrangements at present stand the funeral will take place on Monday next.

Funeral reported in Sutton Advertiser of 20th September 1890

FUNERAL OF MR. JOHN NICHOLLS.

—On Monday afternoon the mortal remains of Mr. John R. Nicholls were interred in the family vault in the Parish Churchyard, wherein just over two years ago Mrs. Nicholls was laid. Mr. Nicholls was formerly a member of the Mitcham School Board, and for many years he has been one of the Guardians for the parish. He was also a very large employer of labour, and that he was popular with his neighbours was proved by the immense gathering at the grave-side on Monday. The coffin, which was of polished oak with brass fittings, bore on the breast-plate the simple inscription, “John Robert Nicholls, died 11th September, 1890, aged 60 years.” It was conveyed on an open car, and was completely hidden by floral tributes from many friends. The chief mourners were Messrs. Harry and Frederick Nicholls (the sons), Mr. W. Reading (son-in-law), and there were also present Messrs. G. Carter Morrison, W. Baldwin (Clapham), John Wallis, F. G. Samson, G. W. Dennis (Croydon), J. Howell (Epsom}, F. G. Lawson, Maxwell, J. W. Clarke (Buck’s Head), Richard Price, S. W. Reading, W. Mears (Singlegate), Ellis, Woodward, Haydon, Steel, Deady, H. Newman, Masters, Harwood, Hodges, Green, Dr. Smith, R. Slater, Allen, Mizen, Drewett, Thorne, Boyce, Roox, and many others. The first portion of the service was conducted by the Vicar in the church, and completed by him at the grave-side. The funeral arrangements were entrusted to Messrs. T. H. Ebbutt & Son, of Croydon.

1890 15th Annual Treat for Bath Road Mission Hall Sunday School

Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 09 August 1890

School Treat.

— The fifteenth annual treat in connection with the Bath-road Mission Room Sunday School took place on Wednesday, the grounds Mr. Nobes being, as usual, kindly placed their disposal for the purpose. It may be mentioned that this Mission is mainly supported by Captain Blakeney, R.N., who formerly resided in the district and who continues to take kindly interest in the welfare of his old friends. Mr. Champion, the superintendent of the school, ably carried out the arrangements. About 100 scholars and friends sat down to excellent tea, after which Mr. J. R. Chart obtained some capital group photos. Cricket, swings, &c., amused the youngsters until dusk. The beautiful weather contributed to the general enjoyment.

Notes:
1. Jerman Nobes lived at Wandle House in 1891