Tag Archives: Church Road

1932 : Young man electrocuted while washing his employer’s van

While washing his employer’s van, Frederick Mansfield, aged 18, was electrocuted. From the newspaper reports it would appear that he grabbed an electric light flex, that didn’t have a light bulb in it, and probably didn’t realise that the switch was on. Electricity shorted from the lamp socket across his body to the wet floor on which he was standing.

The story was syndicated nationally and appeared in a number of regional newspapers. Here’s one article from The Scotsman:


A remarkable fatality occurred at Mitcham on Saturday night, when Frederick Thomas Mansfield (18), a butcher’s assistant, of Homewood Road, Mitcham, was electrocuted while washing a motor car.

Mansfield and another boy were cleaning the car at the rear of the premises of Edwin Birch & Sons, butchers, Church Road, and were using a “flex” attached to the electric light installation of the car for illuminating purposes. Hearing a shout, the manager went to the spot, and found Mansfield lying on his back with the flex in his hand. The manager knocked the wire from the boy’s hand, but when a doctor arrived Mansfield was found to be dead.

Source: The Scotsman – Monday 04 January 1932 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

At the inquest it was added that the vehicle being washed was his employer’s van.

It was stated at an inquest yesterday on a Mitcham butcher’s assistant, Frederick Mansfield (18), who was electrocuted while washing his employer’s motor van, that he had a flex in his right hand, and must have got the best part of 200 volts through his body. Dr. Henry Love said that Mansfield had exceedingly large thymus gland, which was a contributory cause.

Source: Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail – Thursday 07 January 1932 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

The postmortem would likely to have been performed in the Mortuary Chapel in the parish churchyard. This building was demolished some time after the formation of the London Borough of Merton in 1965.

The 1930 commercial directory gives E. Birch & Sons, butchers at numbers 36 and 38 Church Road.


E. Birch & Sons, butchers

Ad from September 1914

Text of ad:

Messrs. E. BIRCH & SONS,

Pork and Beef Butchers.


It will pay YOU to give us a call. All goods of our own manufacture from
ENGLISH material. Note the HOME KILLED PORK of Finest Quality.

E. BIRCH & Sons,

36-38, Church Road and 1, London Road. Mitcham. 133, High
Street, Merton; Beddington Corner.

Phones: 817 Mitcham; 1283 Wimbledon.

1953 OS map

In the 1930 commercial directory, E Birch & Sons was listed at 36 & 38 Church Road and also 274 London Road.

In the 1952 chamber of commerce list, shown as S.E. Birch, 36 Church Road.

Listed in the 1954 telephone directory as E. Birch & Sons, 36 Church Road, phone number MITcham 0817.

A photo from the London Metropolitan archives of 1967 shows 36 Church Road still as family butchers, with the name F. Johnson.

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

1879 : A Question of Sobriety

From the Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 03 May 1879 via the British Newspaper Archive


— At the Croydon Petty Sessions on Saturday, Mr. Parkes Hope, landlord of the Bath Tavern Mitcham, was summoned for serving intoxicated persons with liquor on his premises on the 16th April; and Alfred Stevens, James Stevens, and Joseph Munt were summoned for being found drunk on the premises. Mr. Dennis appeared for the defendants.

— P.-c. 382 W stated that on the 14th April he was on duty in Church-road, Mitcham, when he saw James Stevens drunk and incapable. He also saw Alfred Stevens and Joseph Munt, who were drunk, but not incapable. The two latter were supporting James Stevens between them. Witness saw them enter the Star beerhouse, Church-road, and heard them call for beer. Mr. Chapman, the landlord, however, refused to serve them. They then proceeded to Rock-terrace, and he saw them enter the Bath Tavern. Alfred Stevens called for a pot of beer, and was served by the landlord. Witness saw Alfred Stevens and Munt drink from the pot. A disturbance arose between them, and Alfred Stevens and Munt dragged James Stevens from the bar, and after great difficulty succeeded in getting him home. Witness told the landlord that he should have to report the case, when Mr. Hope replied that he had drawn the beer himself, but did not know that the parties were drunk when they came in.

— William Chapman, landlord of the Star beerhouse, gave evidence as to the elder defendant, James Stevens, coming into his house alone on the evening in question. He was very drunk, and witness refused to serve him, and tried to get him out of the house. While he was doing Alfred Stevens and Munt came into the house, and assisted him in getting the old man out of the house. —Neither Alfred Stevens nor Munt were intoxicated.

— Mr. Dennis said his answer to the case was that on the day in question the younger Stevens drove his master to Thames Ditton, and on his return to Mitcham learnt that his father, who was upwards of 70 years of age, was in the Star beerhouse, drunk. He went there and got his father out, and was assisted by Munt in getting him home. On their way, having to pass the Bath Tavern, they went in, and having placed the old man on a seat, they called for a pot of beer, which the two drank between them, but the old man did not have a drop.

— Mr. Hope, landlord of the Bath Tavern, Alfred Stevens, and several others were called as witnesses, and their evidence confirming the above statement, James Stevens was fined 10s. and 7s. costs. The other summonses were dismissed.

1966 : Star School – name is the same as a pub

The name’s the same as a pub

THE Star Junior and Infants’ Schools, Church Road, Mitcham, may be renamed — because the name also refers to a public house opposite.

Merton Council’s Primary Education Sub-Committee have recommended that the new name be the Benedict Junior and Infants’ School.

At a meeting on Monday Coun. R. A. Spalding moved that the recommendation be referred back.

He said : “I can see a case for changing the name but I’m not in favour of calling it Benedict. I would like to see it changed to the original name of the Lower Mitcham School. Benedict has a connection with monks.”

Coun. H. J. Clack, chairman, said : “The Star refers to a public house. We preferred the connection to be with monks rather than a public house.” The motion was defeated.

Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 14th January, 1966, page 1.

The school is currently known as Benedict Primary School. The Star pub was demolished in 2003.

Mortuary Chapel in parish churchyard

In 1882, the parish church’s burial ground was enlarged and a mortuary chapel was built by Crockett at a cost of £1,761, as referred to in an advertised tender in the Surrey Mirror. (Adjusted for inflation, this was the equivalent of around £200,000 today.)

An entrance from Church Road was made, opposite the post office (later 71 Church Road). A path from this entrance led to a circular path in front the chapel.

The new burial ground was consecrated on 15th January 1883 by the Bishop of Rochester.

This 1910 Ordnance Survey map shows the entrance to the chapel as being opposite the letter box on the west side of Church Road. Another building is shown north east of the chapel, along the wall with Miles Road. The entrance that is there today is not shown and it is not known whether this building was related to the mortuary chapel.

1910 OS map

When Mitcham became part of the London Borough of Merton in 1965, the Coroner decided that autopsies and inquests would be performed at Battersea for both Merton and Wandsworth. This decision was recorded in the minutes of the Parks, Cemeteries and Allotments Committee dated 26th May 1965:

612. Mitcham and Wimbledon Mortuaries

The Director of Parks reported

(i) that following the reorganisation of the London boroughs, H.M. Coroner had decided that as from the 1st April, 1965, he will hold all inquests for both the London boroughs of Merton and Wandsworth at the Battersea Coroner’s Court and that consequently all autopsies on bodies will be carried out at the Battersea Mortuary; and

(ii) that no request has been made to use the Wimbledon and Mitcham mortuaries which had been kept in readiness since the 1st April in case local funeral directors wish to use them as Chapels of Rest, and

(iii) that consequently there seemed to be no necessity to keep the mortuaries available particularly as some financial arrangements would have to be agreed with the London Borough of Wandsworth for bodies admitted to the Battersea Mortuary from this borough.

Source: Minutes of proceedings of the council and committees, London Borough of Merton Council Minutes, 1965-66, volume 2, part 1.

On page 68 of Mitcham Histories: 12 Church Street and Whitford Lane, by the late Eric Montague, is a photograph of the building he took around 1990. The colour version of this photo can be seen on the Merton Historical Society’s website, although it says that it was taken in the 1970s.

Today, nothing is left of the chapel building, although the circular path remains. It is currently not known when it was demolished.

Photo taken 26th April 2017 of plot where mortuary chapel once stood.

Measurements made using the online map show the length of 45 feet along its east-west side, and its depth of 30 feet along its north-south side.

Inquests were held at the Mortuary Chapel. Here are links to some newspaper articles that reported them.

1895 Death from pleurisy
1910 Miss Ellen Peerless, of the Ship Laundry

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

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