Tag Archives: Mitcham Common

1889 : Mr Bidder and Surrey County Council

Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 05 January 1889

MR. BIDDER AT MITCHAM

On Friday evening in last week a meeting ocnvened by the Colliers Wood, Singlegate, and District Ratepayers’ Association was held at the Singlegate Board School, Merton-lane. when Mr. G. P. Bidder, Q.C., delivered an address on the new County Council. Mr. Gibson was voted to the chair, and there were also present the platform Mr. G. P. Bidder, Mr. C. Dungate, and Mr. F. D. Sandell.

Among those present in the body the room were Messrs. C. Doughty, W. Clark. K. Fleming. S. Leonard, C. Elliott, C. Combes, W. H. Talbot, T. Allen, and G. PedwelL.

The Chairman having briefly opened the meeting, Mr. Sandell read letters of regret stating inability to attend from Messrs. W. P. Brown, F. S. Lcgg, Billing, and Thomson.

Mr. Bidder, on rising, said he felt great satisfaction in the invitation from the Ratepayers’ Association to attend a meeting of the electors who resided in that part the parish. and should not have come forward as a candidate it had not been for that invitation and request from several others whom he looked upon his best supporters. It had been said that was busy man and would not have time to attend the duties of county councillor, but that point was fully discussed at the Vestry Hall in week. He said if elected as councillor would do his best in that position. Referring to the Act, Mr. Bidder said there was no doubt it was the commencement new era, which it was difficult overrate ; in short, it was to transfer all the administrative and financial business of the county hitherto done by the justices at Quarter Sessions to the County Council. One the most important features in the new Bill was the representative principle wherein those who paid the county rates would in future have voice in the election the representatives. It was nothing whatever with politics. One thing necessary for a councillor was that he should have a certain knowledge of the neighbourhood represented. There was such a thing as having too local government, and he pointed out the fact that vestries were not the best kind of local government. With regard Mitcham, he did not think they had been fairly treated, for they ought have had two representatives, and he had tried for it, but was too late. Whoever was elected on the Council ought to make it his business to get that altered. It would be the duly of the councillors to be always on the lookout and keep their district in touch with the governing body. There were many authorities which now overlapped each other, for instance Boards of Guardians, Rural Sanitary Authorities, &c., and all these would be reorganised, so to speak, and subordinate to the County Council. Singlegate was a little on one side of Mitcham, and he did not know whether any of the justices knew the wants of that particular locality. There was no doubt it had suffered a great deal through inattention. Lunatic asylums, industrial schools, reformatories, county buildings, roads, bridges, &c., would come under the Council, also the granting of music and dancing licenses, and the administration of the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act. The police would be under a joint committee of the Council and County Justices, and the appointment of medical officers would be done by the Council. Where the local authorities did not exercise their proper functions the Council would report them to the Local Government Board. The local authorities in many small places were not strong enough to overcome individual interests, and it was essential that they should have a body who could do so. The Rivers Pollution Act had been almost a dead letter, and nobody knew what had been put in the Wandle at different times, but this the Council would have power to deal with. Bills were often brought into Parliament which interfered with the public rights and were prejudicial to the county, and the Council would have power to oppose them. People had said that he did not take any interest in local affairs. He would just remind them that seven or eight years ago the London, Brighton, and Coast Railway Company wanted to straighten their line at Mitcham Junction, and for which they would lave required some 20 or 30 acres of the Common, when he with other gentlemen opposed the Bill, and it was thrown out. Several efforts had been made to take away water from the Wandle and the South-West Spring Water Compony wanted to take it to Lambeth. Then there was Croydon, with whom they had had three or four fights, and fortunately succeeded in them; and, lastly, Sutton, and they had also stopped them. Some other duties of the Council would be to arrange the electoral divisions and levy county and police rates. The County Councils altogether would receive a grant of £3,000,000 for the local taxation, which was very important, as Mitcham were about 7s. 9d. to 8s. in the £ for the year. They would have the issuing of Stock, which would materially decrease the rate of interest for their loans by something considerable, seeing that the county debt of Surrey was at present about £300,000. In conclusion, Mr, Bidder said he had not asked for a single vote, but if they thought he was the best man for the post they should elect him, and if not they should elect someone else.

Mr. John Bull, who said spoke on behalf of the working class, then put the following questions :

1. Was Mr. Bidder in favour of the parish lamps being kept alight all night, and also foggy nights?

2. The taking over of roads which ore partly occupied, and are not in sanitary condition, for instance Palestine-road?

3. That the River Wandle be protected where it was very dangerous, both for foot passengers and vehicles?

4. The appropriation of public places for public meetings.

5. That gas and water companies be under the control of the local authorities?

6. The establishment of a free library in Mitcham, where papers and books of all sections should be allowed free circulation?

7. That public meetings be held in open spaces provided they do not interfere with business traffic?

Mr. Bidder said he entirely agreed with all these suggestions, subject to each question being taken in a broad and comprehensive view.

Mr. F. D. Sandell then moved That Mr. G. P. Bidder is a fit and proper person to represent the parish of Mitcham on the Surrey County Council.”

Mr. W. H. Talbot seconded the motion.

Mr. Dungate supported, and said with all due respect to Mr. Harwood, who was the waywarden, there were some roads which were disgraceful. The lighting question he had often called attention to (cries of “Shame”)—but they had not yet got the lamps alight every night, and as to the stinking ditch in the Merton-road the Inspector to the Local Government Board had said it was necessary that it should be covered in. He (Mr. Dungate) had 60 feet frontage to that ditch, which he did not think was a great deal.

Mr. T. Allen, who said he had been a ratepayer for 42 years, said they were complaining of the high rates, and yet they wanted all these improvements. The ditch in question would cost £2,000 to cover in.

Mr. Dungate said it was quite true that an offer was made by the local authorities some time ago to pay half the expense of covering the ditch, but when they estimated it at twice the price for which it could be done for one should not fall in with their views.

Mr. Clark said Mr. Allen had assured him that it could be done for 15s. per foot. The resolution was then put and carried nem. con., and a vote thanks having been accorded to the chairman and Mr. Bidder the meeting closed.

1877 : Proposed 100 acres of Mitcham Common for sewage

PROPOSED DRAINAGE OF MITCHAM, WALLINGTON, ETC.

Mr. Edridge said he wished make a remark respecting the Rural Sanitary Authority, although he did not wish to raise discussion. He was aware, that the members of the Authority bad recently experienced a great deal of trouble, still the subject involved in the question he was about to put was of such great importance to Croydon that he did not hesitate to put it. If the reply were in the affirmative he thought the fact was one which ought to come under the knowledge of the Board of Health, and they should take measures to further the interests of the district over which they had jurisdiction. He asked whether it was true that the Authority were in correspondence with the proper parties to whom it was necessary to apply in order to obtain a hundred acres of land at Mitcham Common for the purposes of sewage irrigation.

The Chairman said such thing had transpired, but there were 108 persons whose consent had to be asked before the Authority could obtain the land.

Mr. Randolph said it was true a resolution had been passed for the Authority to see on what terms they could purchase a hundred acres of Mitcham Common, but there were some difficulties in the way.

Mr. Edridge presumed that the Authority would not have taken such step except after a proper amount of consideration, and with the expectation that their action would lead to some result. He was therefore sure they would forgive him for having asked the question he had; and he thanked them for having given him the information he required.

Mr. Lindsey said the Authority had not given to the subject so much consideration it required ; but the thing had arisen because the Rural Board were driven up into a corner to find some mode of draining their district. It was therefore suggested at the last meeting that they might apply for a hundred acres of Mitcham Common. There had previously been some idea of making use of thirty acres of land, to carry out the intermittent filtration process; but it was thought it would not answer their purpose and expectations ; consequently they wanted to carry put the sewage irrigation system, and thought facilities for doing so would be gained if they could obtain a piece of land on Mitcham Common. It was true that they had applied, but they hardly expected to obtain the quantity of land they required, as it was necessary that the commoners must satisfied and agree before there could be any hope of obtaining the land.

Mr. Allen said the subject was one to be discussed by the Rural Sanitary Board, and not by the Board Guardians. Mr. Edridge, if he wished to speak upon the matter, ought to have come fully charged at the last meeting of the Authority; but, as the subject had been broached, he might well mention that Croydon applied for some land on the same common a few years ago, but the application was rejected. This was the only reason that could see for opposing the present application of the Rural Authority. But what could it matter to the people of Croydon, who had their parks and open spaces. The nuisance of 60,000 inhabitants was sent to Beddington, but instead being injurious to the health of the population, it was actually beneficial. He could not, therefore, understand why Mr. Edridge should come there to oppose the Authority. No doubt he came with the best intentions, but he had come at the wrong time. If he could wait till next week that would the proper time to bring the subject forward. Although there were 108 land owners to consult as to Mitcham Common, yet at present no benefit was derived from that land, but rather the reverse, as Gipsies caused a great nuisance there, and brought all sorts of diseases into the neighbourhood, at well a lot of donkeys and horses that ran all over the place. People like the Gipsies made extra work for the magistrates; yet when the Authority applied for a hundred acres of land for the drainage of the rural district they met with all sorts of obstacles from persons who ought to help instead of hindering them. There were 500 or 600 acres there suitable for irrigation, and of no use to the Inhabitants their present state. He therefore thought that Croydon ought not to offer opposition, although it might very well connect itself with Mr. Bazalgette’s scheme for taking sewage to the sea. Under all circumstances he thought it was most untimely to bring forward the subject, the Board of Guardians had nothing to do with it.

Mr, Edridge said his object was to ask question which interested Croydon generally, and to which he knew they would give him answer: but he should not have ventured to ask that question except a meeting of the Guardians, because, although had the honour of being an ex-officio member of the Board, was not member of the Rural Sanitary Authority, and was much obliged for the information that had been afforded. Mr. Allen said the Rural Sanitary Authority would glad to see Mr. Edridge at the right time if he had anything to say upon the matter referred to. This terminated the public business of the meeting.

Source: Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 17 February 1877 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

1879 : Gipsy Life on Mitcham Common

Sketches on Gypsy Life : Inside a tent on Mitcham Common

GIPSY LIFE NEAR LONDON. Another sketch of the wild and squalid habits of life still retained vagrant parties or clans of this singular race of people, often met with the neighbourhood of suburban villages and other places around London, will be found in our Journal. We may again direct the reader’s attention to the account of them which was contributed by Mr. George Smith, of Coalville, Leicester, to the late Social Science Congress at Manchester, and which was reprinted in our last week’s publication. That well-known advocate of social reform and legal protection for the neglected vagrant classes of our population, reckons the total number of gipsies in this country at three four thousand men and women and ten thousand children. He is now seeking to have all movable habitations—i.e., tents, vans, shows, &c. —in which the families live who are earning a living travelling from place to place, registered and numbered, as in the case of canal boats, and the parents compelled to send their children to school at the place wherever they may be temporarily located, it National, British, or Board school. The following is Mr. Smith’s note upon what what was to be seen in the gipsies’ tent on Mitcham-common:-

“ Inside this tent —with no other home—there were two men, their wives, and about fourteen children of all ages : two or three of these were almost men and women. The wife of one of the men had been confined of a baby the day before called —her bed consisting of a layer of straw upon the damp ground. Such was the wretched and miserable condition they were in that I could not do otherwise than help the poor woman, and gave her a little money. But in her feelings of gratitude to me for this simple act of kindness she said she would name the baby anything I would like to choose ; and, knowing that gipsies are fond of outlandish names, I was in a difficulty. After turning the thing over in my mind for a few minutes, I could think of nothing but Deliverance.’ This seemed to please the poor woman very much; and the poor child is named Deliverance G——. Strange to say, the next older child is named Moses.’

Source: Illustrated London News – Saturday 06 December 1879 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

1866 – Six die when bridge collapses during construction of Mitcham – Sutton railway

From the South Eastern Gazette, 1st May, 1866, page 6:

Frightful Accident at Sutton, Surrey — Six Men Killed by the Falling of a Bridge.

— A lamentable catastrophe occurred at Sutton on Saturday afternoon. The South Coast Company are constructing a new line of railway, which is ultimately intended to connect the London termini with Portsmouth by a direct route. A portion of this line is known by the name of the Mitcham and Sutton Railway, and after crossing Mitcham-common runs at the back of Carshalton and joins the existing Epsom line on the London side of the Sutton station.

A deep cutting through chalk, about half a mile from the junction, renders a bridge necessary for the public road. The work was here in active progress, and the bridge which fell was constructed by means of leaving a keystone of the native chalk and building the brick work upon the chalk abutments. The bridge was nearly completed, but some weeks since a doubt of its stability was entertained, and reports are current in the neighbourhood that the bridge was condemned, and that workmen had absolutely been discharged by the contractor for refusing to work at it, under apprehension of danger. Notwithstanding this, on Saturday afternoon, at half-past two, six men and a ganger were employed. Three of the six were cutting away the chalk, and three others were scraping the brickwork to make it ready for pointing, from which it appears that there was no intention of pulling down the bridge. At half-past two the whole mass of brickwork gave way and buried six poor fellows. The ganger, John White, escaped. Every effort to get at the buried men was made, but it was nearly two hours before they were extricated.

All six were of course dead, and there is reason to hope that their death was almost simultaneous with their apprehension of danger. On visiting the spot on Sunday morning we found the six poor fellows were lying on the floor of a cottage adjoining, and exhibiting a frightful aspect of violent deaths. One of them had his face and head absolutely torn in halves horizontally; another’s countenance could scarcely be recognised.

The names of the poor fellows are Edward Berry, Chas. Collard, Wm. Cook, Henry Hyder, and Hutchinson ; the sixth was not identified at the time of our visit. The contractor for the line is Mr. Joseph Firbank, of Newport, Monmouth, and the construction of the bridges is underlet to Mr. Henry King, of Lower Norwood.

1902 : Horse riding on the cricket green

RIDING ON MITCHAM COMMON.

At Croydon County Bench, on Saturday. Jas. Plested, of Leighton-street, Mitcham-road was summoned for committing a breach of the Mitcham Common Conservators’ bye-laws, riding on a portion of the cricket club’s ground.—Defendant pleaded guilty; and expressed his sorrow.

— Mr. Thos. Harvey, captain of the Mitcham Cricket Club, said that on the 2nd inst. he saw defendant riding a horse on the club’s ground. When told to stop he did so, but asserted that he had as much right to ride on the ground as witness had walk over it. The ground was damaged.

— Defendant said he only bought the horse the same morning, and he got on its back it got the upper hand of him, reared, and ran to the common.

— Fined 16s. 6d., including costs.

Source: Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser – Saturday 27 September 1902 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

1855 : Fatal accident on Wimbledon and Croydon Railway

From page 6 of the 30th October 1855, edition of the South Eastern Gazette.

ALARMING AND FATAL ACCIDENT UPON THE WIMBLEDON AND CROYDON RAILWAY.

The above-named line of railway, which it was at first said would be opened on the 1st of October, then on the 15th of the same month, was opened on Monday, the 22nd. The London, Brighton, and South Coast Company issued bills, announcing that they would run 13 trains per diem. The South Western Railway Company also issued bills, stating that they intended running 5 trains per diem, by means of which passengers could be conveyed to the Waterloo terminus. These, however, were not to be what are generally termed “through trains,” but passengers wishing to go to Waterloo station would have to change trains at the Wimbledon station.

The line, which is a single one, is as near as possible upon the same route between Croydon and Mitcham, as that formerly occupied by the earliest railway in England, viz. the old tramway formed at the commencement of the present century, for the purpose of conveying stone and lime from Merstham. Those who recollect the old tramway are aware that after passing Waddon Marsh, there was a short cutting familiarly known as the “high banks,” after passing which it ran upon a level by the side of a farm now occupied by Mr. Atherfold and then across Mitcham-common.

On Wednesday afternoon the London, Brighton, and South Coast train, consisting of a small engine with tender attached, and four carriages, arrived at the Croydon West station, and proceeded on to Mitcham; at the time we learn there were not more than 8 or 10 passengers in the train. When it reached Mr. Atherfold’s farm, and was consequently between the “high banks” and the road leading from Beddington to the Windmill upon Mitcham-common, the engine got off the rails, after which it evidently continued to run for nearly a hundred yards, when the engine and tender went off at the right hand side of the line, and the carriages at the same time went off at the opposite side. The engine immediately tumbled over, and Bingham the engine driver, who it would appear was at the time working the lever, for the purpose of reversing the engine was with the exception of his head and right arm buried beneath the engine. His death must have been almost instantaneous. The stoker (Weller) jumped off and was much scalded, but not otherwise materially injured. The first carriage was completely smashed, but fortunately there were no passengers in it, and those who were in the other carriages escaped with very slight injuries, as did also the guard who was attending to the break, which fortunately was attached to the last carriage.

Intelligence of the event was immediately conveyed to New-Cross station, and an engine, with what they term the tool box, and about a dozen men arrived at the spot at about 7 o’clock; the remains of the unfortunate engine driver however, were not extricated from beneath the engine till past 8 o’clock, when they were conveyed to the Plough public-house, Beddington, to await a coroner’s inquest.

Another report mentions that one of the passengers was from Mitcham.

From page 351 of the 31st October 1855 issue of the Watchman and Wesleyan Advertiser:

On Thursday night a serious accident occurred on the Croydon and Mitcham Railway to a passenger train in the neighbourhood of the village of Beddington. The line from Croydon to Mitcham, a distance of four miles, was only opened on the preceding Monday. It consists of a single line of rails until its junction with the Croydon and Epsom line, about half a mile from Croydon.

The train to which the accident happened started from the terminus at London-bridge at 4.15. About midway between Croydon and Mitcham, the engine ran off the rails, dragging the tender and passenger carriages after it, for between fifty and sixty yards, until, falling over on its side, its career was suspended. One of the carriages was smashed to atoms, and the driver killed on the spot. There were, fortunately, but five passengers, all second class, and, with the exception of a Mrs. Jacobs, the wife of a retired gentleman residing at Upper Mitcham, who was very much shaken, they all escaped unhurt.

From page 564 of the 7th November 1855 issue of the Watchman and Wesleyan Advertiser, the inquest recommended a speed limit of 20 m.p.h.:

On Monday, the coroner resumed the adjourned inquest on John Bingham, the engine-driver who lost his life on the 24th ult., on the newly-formed West Croydon and Mitcham Railway. Colonel Yolland gave it as his opinion that the accident was caused mainly by the speed at which the engine was travelling. The jury found, “that the deceased met his death by accident, but recommend that the maximum speed, until the lines becomes consolidated, should not be greater than twenty miles an hour.”

1932 Lighting of Colliers Wood High Street

In 1932, Colliers wood was part of the Mitcham Urban District.

1934 OS Map - the boundary with Wandsworth Borough was just north of the bridge over the railway line, south of the junction with Blackshaw Road and Longley Road

1934 OS Map – the boundary with Wandsworth Borough was just north of the bridge over the railway line, south of the junction with Blackshaw Road and Longley Road

The council’s surveyor reported that the Gas Company’s chief engineer proposed using reflectors to increase the light from the ‘Windsor’ gas lamps in use, and that Windmill Road was to be used for a test. This road, across Mitcham Common, had no housing and without any lighting nearby would be a good way of assessing the effectiveness of this proposal.

For more on the Windsor type of gas lamps, see the William Sugg & Co. History website.

From the minutes of the Mitcham Urban District council
Volume XVII 1931 to 1932
Highways Committee
4th February, 1932
Pages 647 to 648

STREET LIGHTING, WINDMILL ROAD

The Chief Engineer to the Gas Company has now evolved a system of reflectors suitable to Windsor type lanterns, and is willing to demonstrate them free of charge in Windmill Road, and I have given him authority to carry out this improvement on the understanding that should they not prove satisfactory there will be no charge. The reflectors have now been fixed in position, but I have not yet had an opportunity of inspecting them at night, and will make a further report to the Committee next month.

The cost of fitting these reflectors on the six lamps is 24s., and the cost of conversion to double burners 12s., with an extra maintenance cost of £10 2s.

HIGH STREET, COLLIER’S WOOD.

The length of High Street, Collier’s Wood, is 970 yards, and is lighted by means of three-burner Windsor type lamps, eight of which are on the west side and twelve on the east side. The maximum distance apart is between the lamp at the corner of Cavendish Road to that opposite North Gardens, a distance of 80 yards; whilst the
minimum distance is 30 yards, this being the distance between the same lamp at the corner of Cavendish Road and that at the corner of Byegrove Road.

The length of the road in the Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth, immediately adjoining the district boundary, is lighted by means of six-burner lamps fitted with reflectors, and is very well illuminated at this point, due, firstly, to the extra lamps being installed on the tramway refuge by Longley Road, and, secondly, to the close spacing and high power of the lamps, the maximum distance apart being 38 yards. In a length of 125 yards from the district boundary, there are 7 six-burner lamps. I suggest that alterations take place on the Mitcham side in order to tone the lighting down gradually. I propose that the second lamp be resited and converted to six-burner at a distance of 50 yards from the first lamp in Wandsworth, and the remaining lighting on the bridge approach would then be adequate.

In my previous report I proposed that a three-burner lamp be fixed to replace an obsolete type lamp opposite No. 216, and on further inspection, late one Sunday night, I suggest two additional lamps be erected, one midway between North Gardens and Cavendish Road, and one between College and University Roads on the east side. When these lamps are fixed I think the road will be reasonably well lighted.

I have prepared a plan and estimate of the cost of lighting the road in the same manner as the recently relighted Tooting High Street, where each lamp is fitted with six burners at a maximum distance apart of 50 yards. The capital cost of this scheme would amount to £230 and the extra annual maintenance cost would be £150. I cannot see that this expenditure is justifiable in any way.

If the reflectors on the lamps in Windmill Road prove satisfactory they could be fixed with advantage to the lamps in High Street, Collier’s Wood.

Yours obediently,
RILEY SCHOFIELD, Assoc. M.Inst.C.E.,
engineer and Surveyor.

Resolved

(d) Lighting of Windmill Road. – That the Committee consider this question at the next meeting, when an opportunity has been given to the members to observe the effect of the new system of reflectors.

(e) Lighting, Collier’s Wood. – That the Surveyor be authorised to replace the obsolete type of lamp opposite No. 216 with a new three-burner lamp, and that two additional lamps suggested by the Surveyor be also provided, and that if the reflectors prove satisfactory in Windmill Road this system is adopted in High Street, Collier’s wood.


Inflation adjusted costs:

1932 2016
12s. £37
24s. £74
£10 2s. £620
£150 £9,200
£230 £14,000

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