March 2007 Bulletin 161
Some notes on Spital and the Hoares R Turner
The Church at Cahagnes, Normany L Green
The Mizens of Mitcham R A M Scott
A Georgian Schoolboy in Mitcham J A Goodman
Trams in Merton – a Centenary G Wilson
and much more
Membership Secretary: Hon. Secretary:
PRESIDENT: Lionel Green
Membership Secretary: Hon. Secretary:
PRESIDENT: Lionel Green
VICE PRESIDENTS: Viscountess Hanworth, Eric Montague and William Rudd
BULLETIN NO. 161 CHAIR: Judith Goodman MARCH 2007
Saturday 24 March 2.30pm St John’s church hall, High Path, Merton
.The Croydon Merstham & Godstone Iron Railway’
Paul Sowan of Croydon Natural History & Scientific Society will give an illustrated lecture
on this sometimes overlooked extension to the Surrey Iron Railway.
High Path is close to bus routes and to the Northern Line at South Wimbledon.
There is no vehicular access from Morden Road. Limited parking will be
available in Merton Abbey Primary School grounds opposite the hall.
Saturday 21 April 2.30pm The Parish Centre, off Church Road, Mitcham
.Memories of Mitcham 1965-70.
Vice-President Eric Montague, will take a knowledgeable look at the local scene of 40 years
ago, with some of the many slides he took at the time.
The Parish Centre is in Church Path, opposite the church of St Peter and St Paul,
only a short walk from Mitcham’s Vestry Hall. The 200 bus serves Church Road,
and the Belgrave Walk Tramlink stop is close by. There is some parking possible.
Saturday 5 May 3.30pm Guided tour at Park Hill, Streatham Common
This event is free, and courtesy of the Streatham Society.
Sensible shoes advised. Those who wish can meet at Sainsbury’s café in the
High Road, opposite Streatham Common, at 1.00pm, for a snack lunch, a look at the
former silk mill and a walk to The Rookery and Norwood Grove before the visit.
Nearest station Streatham. Short walk from the 118 bus route.
Thursday 17 May All-day visit to Bognor Regis
Travel will be by train. We shall have a guided tour of historic sites by Sylvia Endacott, who
talked to us so entertainingly last year about Bognor, and there will be free time to explore.
Saturday 9 June Guided walk round Cricket Green, Mitcham
Meet Tony Scott outside the Vestry Hall at 2.15 for 2.30pm for an informative tour of this
picturesque and historic area. No need to book.
The Vestry Hall is on several bus routes and a short walk from Mitcham Tramlink stop.
The Kilsbys. coach trip to Cambridge in July
See information and booking details on separate sheet enclosed.
The Society’s events are open to the general public, but entry to lectures
for non-members is £2 per head towards our running costs.
RICHARD MILWARD, 20 APRIL 1924 . 7 DECEMBER 2006
For 40 years Wimbledon enjoyed the services of a local
historian that would be difficult to rival. He produced many
books, gave hundreds of talks, chaired the local history group
of the Wimbledon Society, and was always active in its local
history museum. Furthermore all the royalties from the books
and the fees for the talks were paid over to the museum,
which is run by volunteers, with no admission charge.
Apart from his great capacity for detailed work and research
Richard had a natural talent to hold the interest of the
audience, with little reference to his notes. One remarkable
characteristic was the genuine enthusiasm with which he
greeted a proposal for a new endeavour, no matter how
The community also benefited from Richard’s 40 years as
history master at Wimbledon College, the school he had
attended as a pupil and where he had been made head boy
in 1941. Sadly, two years earlier, he had contracted polio,
and his twisted back was a cross he had to bear for the rest
of his life. But, thankfully, his good humour and cheerfulness
would never leave him. He became the first pupil from the
College to win a state scholarship to Oxford, reading history
at New College.
As for his skill as a teacher, Paul Merton, the comedian, said in 1999, .I liked Mr Milward and so I worked hard.
He in his turn realised that I (a comprehensive boy) was working hard, and gave me some of his own time to help
me through the exams. He taught me a valuable lesson. It was his belief that a second draft of written material
improves the thought processes and makes for better work..
David Luff writes:
Dear Merton Historical Society
Many thanks to you all for the presentation and gift at our last AGM. It was certainly a big surprise and
very unexpected. The twelve years as treasurer have flown by. I took on the position as a complete novice,
never having done anything like it in the past, and this could be why my way of running the Society’s accounts
has often seemed to be rather controversial at AGMs.
My special thanks go to both the late Winifred Mould [the previous Treasurer, and, later, the Hon. Examiner]
and to Edna Duke [her successor as Hon. Examiner] who were a great help to me over these years.
Many thanks to you all
The book I am awaiting and hopefully will be reading by the time this appears in print, is the updated
history of O V Bulleid’s Leader class steam locomotive, by Kevin Robertson.
Leader was a revolutionary design of steam loco, with a cab at each end. Constrained by a rush to
complete before the nationalisation of the Southern Railway in 1948, some design faults occurred. They could
have been rectified, but by the time she commenced track running, her designer had left BR for a position in
Leader was never allowed to shine in full glory, and not
really surprisingly, with a nationalised railway almost entirely of
died-in-the-wool Midland personnel. The CIE considered buying
the three locos built but it did not come to be.
Any modeller reading this may be interested in that Chris
of Golden Arrow Productions is intending to produce 160 models
of Leaders. They are an updated version of his previous models.
You need to be quick. I could certainly find use for them all.
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 161 . MARCH 2007 . PAGE 2
.THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME’
After the AGM on 11 November last year member Vince Webb spoke about the Battle of the Somme. This was
at a most appropriate time, as it was Armistice Day, and it was in November 1916 that the Battle of the Somme
ended 90 years ago. Vince is a keen student of the battles of World War I, his interest having been sparked by
a TV documentary series in the 1960s, and having deepened over several visits to the battlefields.
The Battle resulted from French pressure on its allies to bring forward the .big push. in order to deflect the
Germans from Verdun, where French forces were incurring heavy losses. The British generals planned to
attack the Germans over a 16-mile line, aiming to end the battle in five days. The Germans had established
heavily fortified positions along the front line, many on high ground. The British strategy had little basis in
experience or proper study. It was assumed that a massive week-long artillery bombardment, in conjunction with
mines exploded under some of the German positions, would wipe out most of the German defenders. As there
would be little or no defensive fire, the allied soldiers would be able to walk in broad daylight across .no man’s
land. through gaps opened by the shells in the barbed-wire defences, towards the unoccupied German trenches.
The reality was very different. The shelling had no effect on many of the well-fortified German positions deep
underground. The infantry attack that started as soon as the shelling stopped had no element of surprise owing
to the explosion of one of the mines eight minutes early. The shells falling on the barbed wire did not blast holes
through it, but threw it up in the air so that it fell to the ground even more tangled than before, making an
impenetrable barrier. Many of the allied soldiers were mown down by machine gunfire before or when reaching
the barbed wire. Vince’s photographs from some of the German positions showed clearly the good field of view
they would have had of the British attackers.
On the first day of the Battle, 16 July 1916, there were nearly 60,000 British and Commonwealth casualties, one-
third of them killed. On the second day the commanders of the allied forces could have concentrated on attacking
the few points of the line where the previous attack had been successful, consolidating the positions that had
been taken. Instead they ordered another general attack over the whole line, resulting in further heavy casualties.
After five days the Germans fell back to defensive positions in woodland not far behind the line. When the
woods were shelled by the British artillery the Germans withdrew to the rear, returning at the end of the
bombardment to improved defensive positions created by the trees felled in the shelling. Vince described the ebb
and flow of the remainder of the Battle, with attack and counter-attack, little ground won or lost, and further
large numbers of casualties on both sides. Eventually the Battle came to a halt in the rain, mud and cold of
November, when troop movements became nearly impossible. There were no winners. In total the Somme
resulted in 420,000 British and Commonwealth casualties, 200,000 French and 500,000 German. This was a
largely pointless waste of life, although Vince said in answer to a question that the German losses had a crucial
effect in the longer term, when this serious depletion of their forces contributed to their losing the war in 1918.
Vince gave moving accounts of the
heavy losses suffered by individual
regiments, many of which were .pals.
regiments. recruited from just one district
or town. Others were Commonwealth
regiments, such as the
Newfoundlanders, with 91% casualties;
he showed a slide of the land at the
Somme bought by Canada to
commemorate their dead. One of the
most poignant memorials commemorates
the Devonshire Regiment; the trench
from which they advanced was later
used to bury their dead. The inscription
on a monument there reads .The
Devonshires held this trench; the
Devonshires hold it still..
Vince Webb’s own slides illustrated his
talk, which revealed his comprehensive
knowledge of his subject.
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
In a futile attempt to achieve a breakthrough on the Somme, British troops rise
from their trenches and proceed towards the enemy on 25 September 1916.
Imperial War Museum
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 161 . MARCH 2007 . PAGE 3
.FROSTS, FREEZES AND FAIRS’
On a remarkably mild December day we were entertained by meteorologist Ian Currie to a history of freezing
weather and festivities, illustrated with many fascinating prints and views, and enlightened by many a wise
He began by pointing out that average temperatures in Britain have varied considerably over the last 2000 years,
not only from year to year, but in the long term as well. The climate now is in fact similar to that in Roman times,
but by AD400 the weather was colder and wetter in the summer; by AD800 it had become warmer, with
droughts in the summer; but from 1300 onwards winters became colder, reaching a peak in the late 1600s when
there were 22 severe winters in the 50 years 1650-1700.
The first documented frost fair on the Thames was in December 1564, when it was recorded that Queen
Elizabeth visited the fair and shot at targets on the ice. Other big freezes occurred in 1716, and in 1788 when the
river froze all the way to the sea, and elephants were taken onto the ice at Woolwich. There was also a great
freeze in 1739-40 when the temperature reached only 5°F (-15°C) and the river froze in three days. The last
frost fair, in 1813-14, began with eight days of dense fog (a .London Particular.) in December and lasted to the
end of January, with the river frozen over between Blackfriars and London Bridge.
The Thames froze over much more readily than now, because of a number of factors, not least of which was
Old London Bridge, with its many openings, each of which was narrowed even further by the ‘starlings. (timber
reinforcements to prevent damage by boats). The inhabitants of the houses on the bridge would also discard
their rubbish into the river, making it shallower. This meant that the tide hardly reached above the bridge, and any
floating ice coming down the river would quite easily build up above the bridge.
When the river froze, the watermen (ferrymen and wherrymen) would be put out of business, so they would set
up tents on the ice and organise activities such as bear-baiting, cock-fighting and bowls, charging a penny
entrance. Iron skates, introduced from Holland, made skating popular. There were stalls selling fruit, flowers,
gingerbread, coffee and beer, and minstrels, circuses and theatres to entertain the crowds. There were printing
presses producing mementos of the occasion. Barbers would also set up booths, with lute-players to entertain
waiting customers, the strings also coming in useful for removing teeth, as they doubled as dentists too.
In later years there were also big freezes, but the Thames in London never again froze totally. Ian picked out a
number of years for mention. In 1836 a temperature of 1°F (-17°C) was recorded inside, and gin froze in the
bottle. In 1867 thousands were plunged into the river when the ice broke under the strain, and 47 died. In 1881
there was a snowstorm for two days with 80mph winds and the temperature down to -18°C; hundreds of people
died, and there were ten-foot snowdrifts in Oxford Street. In 1895 the temperature sank to -17°F (-27°C), the
all-time record, and the Thames froze over at Kingston.
In the 20th century there was a blizzard at Christmas in 1927, and in 1947 there was a prolonged freezing spell
from mid-January to mid-March. The most recent big freeze was in 1963, when the Thames estuary froze at
Margate and it was possible to drive across the river at Hampton Court. Other recent freezes were in 1981,
when the Queen was trapped in snow, in 1987, when the lowest temperature was -9°F (-23°C), and in 1997
when the Thames froze at Kingston in early January.
Some of the reasons the Thames no longer freezes have been mentioned. Other more recent developments
have also lessened the likelihood . increased dredging for shipping, Victorian embankments which reduced the
width of the river and increased the speed of flow, power stations pumping hot water into the river, .heat islands.
in the city resulting from large buildings, even the gradual tilting of the south-east of England downwards, which
increases the height of the tides. Finally there is Climate
Change: in 2006 we experienced the warmest autumn
on record, with the ten warmest years overall since
records began all being after 1988.
Ian concluded by forecasting very high winds for the
following 12-18 hours and advising everyone to .batten
down the hatches.. Even now the weather can spring
surprises, or as Ian put it in his concluding rhyme:
Whether the weather be hot,
or whether the weather be not,
We.ll weather the weather whatever the
weather . it’s the only weather we.ve got!
The Frost Fair 1739-40
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 161 . MARCH 2007 . PAGE 4
ROMAN TIMES IN SURREY
There was a good turnout on 27 January for our first meeting of 2007, which was also the first time we have
used St James Church Hall, Martin Way. A spacious hall with blinds to keep out the glare of the winter sunshine,
the only drawback was the public transport service which tried its hardest to delay the arrival of our speaker! Dr
David Bird, recently retired as County Archaeologist for Surrey, finally arrived by taxi, having been thwarted by
both train and bus, and was a few minutes late in starting his lecture. However, it was worth waiting.
Although Britain became part of the Roman world in 54 BC, it was not yet made a province of Rome. Instead
local tribal rulers had to pay tribute. In the southeast the Catuvellauni were dominant in the Essex and Hertfordshire
region and the Atrebates in the Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire area. There was frequent conflict between these
two power blocs during the century following Julius Caesar’s campaign, as well as internal struggles, which
ultimately provided the excuse for a second invasion in AD 43. David believes that the main landing was
probably in the Solent area, rather than on the Kent coast, and that the famous battle often attributed to the
Medway was more likely to have been on a Surrey river such as the Wey or even our own Wandle.
There seems to have been little opposition to the invasion and there are few military sites in the southeast. It is
likely that much of southern Britain had become so much part of the Roman world that many welcomed the
opportunity to embrace a Roman lifestyle.
The province was administered through the tribal areas, with local government in the hands of the tribal .upper
class.. City states were centred on newly-founded capitals, such as Silchester, the capital of the Atrebates.
London, founded around the middle of the 1st century as a distinctive Roman trading base, became a focus for
our area, with new roads leading to it. Stane Street, linking with Chichester, had official posting stations at
regular intervals, often at river crossings, and Merton, at the crossing of the Wandle, is likely to have been the
nearest to London, providing a watering place for livestock. London and its road network attracted the next
generation, who created a ring of settlements, such as Ewell and Brentford. Ewell has produced archaeological
evidence for several sites of a ‘sacred. nature. Southwark and Staines were also key settlements in the area.
There is little evidence of change in the management of the countryside during the first 150 years, the Iron Age
field systems and their settlements continuing in use. There is scattered evidence for landscape changes around
AD 200, with new ways of land management being introduced, but there are huge gaps in our knowledge.
Villas seem to have favoured the edges of geological zones, where they could exploit the potential of the varied
geology. They seem to have avoided the Weald and the gravel zones, but the wooded areas on the London Clay
would have provided a useful .crop. for both fuel and timber . much in demand in London . and woodland
management would have been an important part of the local economy.
The villas themselves, with their bath-complexes and their mosaic floors, are well
known, but less is known about their surroundings. Beddington has provided evidence
from different periods, including postholes from large buildings around the villa. Tilford,
near Farnham, was a centre for pottery, producing a wide variety in large quantities,
though using unsophisticated kilns. Tileworks have been found at Reigate and at Ashtead
Common. Ashtead-patterned tiles have been found over a wide area, but as the pattern
was applied by roller, it is not clear whether all the tiles were made at Ashtead or
whether the tiler took his roller from site to site! Tiles were heavy, but these sites were
only served by road transport, not rivers.
Britain was part of an empire-wide trade network. Surrey roads brought Samian ware
from Gaul to Titsey (as well as good Oxfordshire copies!), and exotic goods to Rapsley,
alongside coarse pottery from the Alice Holt Forest area in Hampshire.
There were Romano-Celtic temples at Southwark, Titsey, Farley Heath and
Wanborough. These were not .Roman. temples for the worship of .Roman. gods, but
centres for the veneration of local deities, though some shared a .Roman. name, such
as Mars Camulos recorded in an inscription at Southwark. There is little evidence of
Christian worship outside of the towns. Burial rites also changed over the centuries.
There were many changes in the period of Roman rule. David stressed that we shouldn’t
think of .The Romans. as a discrete group who arrived in the 1st century and departed
in the 5th. The army that left Britain was mostly of Germanic origin, whereas the
British who remained were mostly Roman citizens with a Roman lifestyle!
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
Keyed flue tile from
Collections XXXVIII pt I
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 161 . MARCH 2007 . PAGE 5
LOCAL HISTORY WORKSHOP
Friday 24 November, evening meeting. Four present. Lionel Green in the chair.
Bill Rudd had more to say about the Merton priory section in Time Team’s book, and the errors therein . for
instance, the mention of a .dock. in the River Wandle, and muddling the technical terms relating to block-
printing. The accompanying drawings were also inaccurate.
Rosemary Turner had decided to learn more about the ‘spital. area of Morden. Her preliminary notes
appear on below.
Judith Goodman had been to the National Art Library at the V&A to read a manuscript treatise on calico-
printing written by John Leach of Merton Abbey in 1792. Leach was the writer of several of the letters in the
Bennett/Leach collection lent to us by the owner for editing. The V&A document, nicely bound in vellum,
contains directions for dyeing and printing calicos, mainly with madder, which was used in different ways to
produce a great variety of colours. Weld, indigo and orpiment are also mentioned. Pasted in are also many
swatches of cotton and linen, some showing gradations of plain colours and some with patterns printed from
blocks and from copper plates. John Leach took his son-in-law Thomas Bennett on as partner before handing
the business over to him around 1812.
It was an exhibition about John Betjeman and architecture that had caught Lionel Green’s interest. This
was at Sir John Soane’s Museum, and the rest of the session passed pleasantly in an enthusiastic discussion
of that institution, of its founder and of the late and much missed poet and architecture critic.
Lionel had also been putting together the story of the connection between Merton and Cahagnes, a small
town (famous for prize-winning tripe) in Normandy. [See pp8-9.]
SOME NOTES ON SPITAL AND THE HOARES
At last October’s workshop Peter Hopkins spoke about his study of medieval Morden, and questions that arose
from it [Bulletin 160 p.3]. He mentioned the area called Spital which now contains the area where Bill Rudd
lives and I used to live. In the following discussion a site in the woodland of Morden Recreation Ground was
mentioned. My ears pricked up, as this used to be at the end of my garden for about ten years. Prior to that our
family had lived in the Carshalton side of the Estate. I knew it as a bird sanctuary and allotments. There were
several rumours of a tunnel which supposedly led to Nonsuch Palace or was an unused extension of the
I decided to try to discover more about the site. Peter and Bill were not sure whether it had been recorded, but
the foundations of a medieval hall had been found amongst the trees.
Merton Local Studies Centre had no mention of this. Kathy from the Heritage Centre did a further search for
me and found nothing. I contacted the NMR [National Monuments Record], but apart from acknowledging my
enquiry they have not got back to me.
I was aware that although this was all new to me Peter and Bill have probably looked into this previously, so I
went through the books, leaflets and Bulletins at home, which related to the area.
I obtained copies of maps covering the area dating back to 1816, and I looked at Peter’s publication Morden
Tithe Apportionment. The property was occupied by George Matthew Hoare in 1838.
I had a few books on the St Helier Estate, and in one it states that .where possible the roads followed existing
boundaries.. It included a small plan of the Estate, and I have roughly plotted the position of the roads on an old
map. (The copy of the original plans of the Estate, at the Local Studies Centre, did not help.) My first thought had
been that the raised area shown on the map could have been the site of the manor house, and later became
covered in trees, but according to Lionel Green it was a pond.
I do not think I will be able to go back to the early records, as my Latin lessons were discontinued after one term.
I will have to leave this to Peter. I did wonder if it was worth trying to track down the LCC records to see if there
is anything recorded.
At this point I got sidetracked into wondering about the Hoare family: according to Peter’s Tithe paper they
occupied quite a large area. Various publications by the Society mention the Hoares, who were connected to
Hoares the London bankers who married into the Coutts Family and were the owners of Watts the ecclesiastical
suppliers. They have a long history with Westminster Abbey, and one of the family married Gilbert Scott.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 161 . MARCH 2007 . PAGE 6
LOCAL HISTORY WORKSHOP
Friday 19 January 2007, afternoon meeting. Eight present. Judith Goodman in the chair.
!!!!!Peter Hopkins reported on his Medieval Morden project. His translations of the manorial accounts have
been checked by an expert, who is now checking the court rolls. So Peter has started to write up the account
rolls. He brought along drafts relating to land use, crops and livestock, but there is much more to research.
Bill Rudd had been responding to several enquiries. The local scout group asked about Searchlight Cottages,
which were near the mosque site. They first appear on post-WWI maps, and Bill believes they were part of
the defence of London searching for Zeppelins. These huts were later converted to cottages, and later still
were used as the scout HQ. Other enquiries related to Hazelwood in Central Road, and the Hatfeild family.
Cyril Maidment donated to the Society a set of The
Merton Story articles from local newspapers.
He brought along photos of the 1933 tapestry at
Lancing College, woven at Merton Abbey, and a
photograph (right) that he took six years ago to parallel
the wartime view by Harry Bush entitled .A Corner
of Merton, 16 August 1940., printed in Judith’s
Merton & Morden: A Pictorial History 158.
Cyril also reported the death of Wimbledon historian
and MHS member Richard Milward (see p2) and the
threatened closure of Wandsworth Museum (see p2).
Madeline Healey brought along copies of old
photographs of Lower Morden, including a view of
Bishops Cottages (right), now replaced by 154-170
Lower Morden Lane. The originals photos were
donated to Lower Morden Library some years ago.
Rosemary Turner had been trying to find out about
the excavations in the 1970s on the site of Merton
Priory’s Spital Farm at the junction of Central Road
and Farm Road, Morden. The medieval building was
replaced by The Lodge, and in the mid-19th century
it was the property of George Matthew Hoare, son
of Henry Hoare of Mitcham Grove.
Lionel Green has discovered more on Faramus of Boulogne, who donated Carshalton church to Merton
Priory. Lionel recently found the research notes he made on this subject 50 years ago!
He has also been investigating Merton Priory’s holding of Fifide near Shellwood, in Leigh and Horley, and part
of the priory’s manor of Ewell. Each of these topics will be the subject of articles in future Bulletins.
In September Eric Montague went on a cruise on the River Seine, visiting Richard Lionheart’s castles,
Monet’s garden, and Rouen . the scene of the burning of Joan of Arc. But for Monty the jewel in the crown
was his visit to Honfleur, the seat of the Tankerville family who became lords of Ravensbury. Monty .floated.
the idea of an MHS cruise! Let him know what you think.
As he now lives in Sussex, Monty has been reading the published diary of a Horsham tradesman in the late
17th century, who noted every time he went to church and what the sermons were about, probably as proof
that he was a practising Anglican. Monty linked this to the Test Act of 1673, which prohibited from office any
who refused to take oaths of allegiance and of supremacy, or who rejected the Anglican beliefs regarding
Holy Communion. He wondered whether any similar material survives locally.
Judith Goodman had been continuing her researches into the Bennett and Leach families of Merton Abbey.
A cousin of John Leach Bennett was a student and then a master at Eton, before becoming bishop of
Colombo in Sri Lanka. Looking through back copies of Etoniana, she found excerpts from the diary of his
future wife’s aunt, commenting on their burgeoning relationship! A few pages further on she happened to spot
extracts from letters written by a pupil at Dr Roberts’s school in Mitcham (see p12). Serendipity indeed!
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 161 . MARCH 2007 . PAGE 7
LIONEL GREEN looks at the connection of Merton priory with
THE CHURCH AT CAHAGNES, NORMANDY
This is the story of a church in Normandy, whose medieval structure no longer exists, but which was often the
subject of discussions in the chapter house at Merton priory from 1170 until 1267. Cahagnes is a town between
Caen and Vire, and gave its name to the family of Keynes.
Ralph de Cahagnes (d.1174) was a benefactor of Merton priory, granting it the advowsons of churches in
Cambridgeshire, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire, as well as Cahagnes in Normandy. Both his
mother-in-law Emma and his wife Alice were buried at the priory.1 His beneficence has already been recounted
in Bulletin No.138 (June 2001 pp.8-9), but the present article is confined to this single gift. It is only because the
canons, over many years, recorded in their cartulary the occurrences of the 12th and 13th centuries that we today
are able to piece together even part of a story which demonstrates both the comparative ease with which
ordinary folk could invoke litigation, and the usefulness of a common language, Latin, in the courts of England,
Normandy and France.
In about 1150 Ralph de Cahagnes granted an estate of the church and 30 acres (12ha) at Cahagnes to a French
knight, who was then condemned for killing a man. As lord of the estate Ralph took possession and granted it to
William Postell, the parson of the church, and he was able to take an annual rent for the land. Postell then
married a cousin of the knight, who bore him four daughters.
Wimund of Courvaudon, a priest and also a cousin of the forfeiting knight, claimed the estate, and the matter
went to the court of Ralph de Cahagnes. He ruled that the land belonged to the church, and the suit was .laid to
sleep..2 William Postell was left in possession, and the king’s court confirmed the decision.
Ralph de Cahagnes then granted the advowson of the church and the estate to Merton priory in about 1172, but
allowed Postell to continue as parson. Scandalous behaviour was rife at this time, and a knight, Ralph de Grainville,
whose wife was ill, had an affair with Beatrix, one of Postell’s unmarried daughters. The relationship produced
two sons; the woman was excommunicated for adultery, and died soon afterwards.
A distant cousin of Beatrix, Robert de Courvaudon, brought an action against the canons of Merton to obtain the
advowson, which resulted in a fine payable by all parties, including the priory.3
As Beatrix had died excommunicate, her sons Robert and Ralph were disregarded over her inheritance, but
when they came to manhood they too claimed the advowson of Cahagnes, including the ancient estate. The
claim was to be heard in the ducal court, but Henry II was in England, and William fitzRalph, the seneschal of
Normandy (1179-1200) presided, probably about 1184-87.4 Merton priory was represented by the bishop of
Bayeux (1164-1205), Henry de Beaumont, former dean of Salisbury, but the verdict went against the priory,
although judgement awaited reference to the king. He ordered a jury to determine whether the sons were born
in adultery. If so the claim would fail.2 The final decision favoured the priory. The evidence of the bishop of
Bayeux is interesting. He wrote to the prior informing him that the jury had established that William Postell was
a deacon, son a priest. He recites the circumstances of the adultery and the burial of Beatrix at the leper chapel.
The estate involved .the old iron mine within the deanery of Bayeux..5
Whilst litigation continued Merton priory sought an arrangement with a monastery in Normandy to exchange
foreign properties. An agreement was drawn up for the church at Cahagnes to be transferred to the Benedictine
abbey of St Fromond near Vire. In return Merton priory would receive the tithes of Stamford castle and the
advowsons of five churches in that town . St John the Baptist, St Paul, St Michael Cornstall, St George and All
Saints in the Market (with a pension of two silver marks [£1.33]), and, in addition, the advowsons of two other
churches in Lincolnshire . All Saints, Saxby, and St Andrew, Bonby. Pope Lucius III (d.1185) issued an indulgence,
and king John confirmed arrangements by royal charter in 1200.6 However, the exchange was never put into
effect, and in 1203 king John lost the dukedom of Normandy.
Robert and Ralph de Grainville, grandsons of William Postell, complained to the king of France that Merton
priory had deprived them of their rights. A fresh action in the royal court commenced, and the canons persuaded
the seneschal of the count of Boulogne to petition for the action to be heard in the count’s court.7 Robert (Ralph
may have died) refused to acknowledge the count’s jurisdiction. The case was heard in the court of the count of
Boulogne, who at the suggestion of Robert de Geldeford, canon of Merton, sent his steward Peter Leschaut. No
adversary to the canons appeared, and the claim was dismissed. Eventually it was agreed to go to the French
king’s court, and Robert de Grainville promised to present Ralph’s son to the church of Cahagnes.8 The king of
France requested a copy of all title deeds from Merton priory, under the seal of the priory and the seal of the
archbishop of Canterbury.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 161 . MARCH 2007 . PAGE 8
The bishop of Bayeux continued to act for the priory and informed them of the low prospects of success. His
assistant was .L., his clerk, .who was useful for speaking but slow of counsel.,9 whilst the adversary had the
whole court of the king and the clergy and province. There was also the abbot of Caen, whose nephew supported
Ralph de Grainville. The bishop nevertheless succeeded in transferring the hearing from the Curia Regis to the
Curia Comitis.10 Unfortunately the cartulary fails to record the result of the hearing, but clearly the priory
continued to possess Cahagnes well into the 13th century.
A further attempt to exchange properties with a Norman monastery began in 1266. This was with the Augustinian
abbey of St Mary du Val(le), close to the Orne river, south of Thury-Harcourt. Each house was to give a cell to
the other, .by the will of the patrons of both places..11 On 28 June 1266 the bishop of Exeter issued a licence for
the exchange of properties in his diocese to take place.12 This included the priory or cell of Tregony, Cornwall.
The abbot of Valle sent his proctor to Merton to effect the exchange on 16 March 1267. A charter was finally
drawn up on 15 July 1267, which granted to the abbot and convent of Valle all land in lay fee at Cahagnes and
elsewhere in Normandy, .as well of wood as of plain, and in corn-land, pasturages, and commons, but subject to
due and accustomed fees and services. Dated at Merton, the ides of July 1267..13 Each year Merton was to pay
Valle 13 marks (£8.67) at Merton, and they also received .the crops and fruits of the land and movables at
Cahagnes for the present year..14
From the exchange Merton gained the cell of Tregony, the churches of St James and St Kybi at Tregony and the
church at St Issey, also in Cornwall. They also received the advowsons of Ashcombe, Buckerell, Clyst St
George, Stockleigh Pomeroy and Upottery, and St Lawrence, Exeter, all in Devon, and of Oare church, just over
the border in Somerset.
Why was there such persistence in going to court? Was there antipathy towards foreign ownership, or were
lawyers encouraging litigation?
BL Cotton Cleop.C VII (Merton priory cartulary) No.69 fo.lxxxvi; A Heales Records of Merton Priory (1898) p.29
Merton priory cartulary No.160 fo.ciii translated in Heales op. cit. p.56. Note that Heales mistakenly took .Kaham. to be Cheam.
Concord was made in the Curia Regis concerning patronage by brother Roger de Want.
The royal itinerary in Normandy precludes certain dates, and it was probably between June 1184 and April 1185, or between April 1186
and February 1187.
Heales p.57; L F Salzman ‘sussex Domesday Tenants. Sussex Archaeological Collections 63 (1922) pp.191-2
Charter rolls 17 Feb. 1200 1 John m.25; L F Salzman op. cit. p.192
Renaud of Dammartin was president at the hearing. He claimed the title of count of Boulogne following his marriage to Ida the
granddaughter of countess Matilda, wife of king Stephen. The king of France began occupying the county of Boulogne in 1211.
8. H G Richardson .A Norman Lawsuit. Speculum 7 (1932) p.389
9. Heales p.57
10. Merton priory cartulary No.163 fo.cv. Heales p.57. From the king’s court to the county court. This must have been one of the last acts
of the bishop of Bayeux, for he died in 1205.
11. Heales p.146
12. Heales p.149
13. Merton priory cartulary No.343 fo.cxlvii; Heales p.148
14. Merton priory cartulary No.348 fo.cxlix; Heales p.148
The 19th-century bells from the
old church at Cahagnes.
The centre of the village,
including the church, was
destroyed in the D-Day
aftermath, and has been rebuilt
in utilitarian style.
Photo: J Goodman
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 161 . MARCH 2007 . PAGE 9
TONY SCOTT outlines the story of
THE MIZENS OF MITCHAM
Groundwork Merton has recently produced a teaching pack for Key Stage 2 children, which enables them to
discover the history of this family, who were once very important locally.
Many members may be familiar with the name Mizen Brothers in connection with horticulture and market
gardening in Mitcham, and some may even remember their Eastfields Farm in Grove Road, Mitcham, which
closed over 45 years ago. Not many people nowadays appreciate how great an influence the Mizen family had
on the way Mitcham developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Edward Mizen, a market gardener and horticulturalist, had a farm in the area which later became Battersea
Park. In 1866 Edward and his wife Sarah and their five children moved to Mitcham and bought land which was
being sold on the break-up of the Moore/Bridger physic gardens. The farm at Battersea was retained until the
land was bought by the London County Council, at its formation in 1888, to provide a park for Londoners.
By the late 1880s Eastfields Farm was a thriving concern, covering land between Grove Road and the present
Acacia Road, both north and south of Tamworth Lane. By 1895 Mizens had created the Elm Nurseries on the
site of Pound Farm in London Road, an area now covered by Armfield Crescent and its four blocks of flats and
Edward Mizen died in 1911, leaving his three sons, Edward Johnson, Edward Ernest (known as Ernest) and
Alfred to carry on the business. He also had two surviving daughters, Alice and Elizabeth. The family firm took
the name .Mizen Bros., and by 1928 owned over 128 acres of land in Mitcham and 120 acres in Streatham. In
the 1920s Mizen Bros had three stands for plants and two for flowers at Covent Garden Market. Each night at
about midnight three or four carts, each drawn by a pair of horses, would leave Mitcham for the three-hour
journey of eight miles to Covent Garden, arriving there with sufficient time to get the plants and salad crops
arrayed before the market opened at 4 am. The carts would return loaded with manure bought at the market
from the livery stables in central London.
The Mizen Bros firm built houses for rent in Landsdell Road, Carew Road, Feltham Road and St Mark’s Road,
Mitcham. The houses in the first three roads were built cheaply, but satisfied basic needs; the houses in St
Mark’s Road were of a higher standard. All these houses still exist. The houses were not solely for employees,
but employees paid a discounted rent. For the smaller houses, in the 1920s, the rent was 7/6d (37.5p) per week
for non-employees and 3/- (15p) per week for employees. If a tenant left Mizens. employment they could
remain in the house but had to pay the full rent. The Mizens owned over 60 houses in Mitcham in the 1890s.
The family was very prominent in local affairs. Alfred, the youngest son, was one of the members of the
Mitcham Common Conservators at their formation in 1891 and fought vigorously against encroachment of the
Common by the Princes Golf Club. Alfred Mizen was a member of Mitcham parish council during the whole of
its existence from 1894 to 1915, and was its chairman from 1897 to 1903, and again in 1914. He became an
elected member of Mitcham Urban District Council at its formation in 1915 and was its chairman in 1915/16.
In 1910 Alfred Mizen was elected to represent Mitcham as a member of Surrey County Council, and in 1921 he
was made an alderman. He was at one time vice-chairman and then chairman of the County Education Committee.
During his time on the Education Committee two .County Schools. were opened in Mitcham. These were
effectively grammar schools, and had entry by examination. Mitcham Boys County Secondary School was
opened in 1922 on the site of the former Upper Mitcham Boys County School. The buildings are now part of St
Thomas of Canterbury Primary School in Commonside East. In 1929 Mitcham Girls County Secondary School
was opened on the site of Cranmer Farm. The buildings are now part of Cranmer Primary School in Cranmer
Road. Alfred was appointed a JP in 1925.
Alfred lived, with his wife Emily Jane and his five daughters, in Brook Cottage, Grove Road (near the present
Firs Close) until his death on Christmas Eve 1945, aged 84. Two of his daughters, Kate and Freda, ran Eastfields
Farm until the last harvest there in autumn 1960, and remained in Brook Cottage until Kate’s death in 1975 and
Freda’s death in 1980. Freda used to worship at St Olave’s church, and at one time was the President of the
Mitcham District Girl Guides. Mildred, another sister, was the chair of the District Guides.
The eldest of the three brothers, Edward Johnson Mizen, was also active in local politics, although not with
such a distinguished career as his youngest brother. He was a member of Mitcham parish council and, at the
formation of the Urban District Council in 1915, was its first chairman. Edward J married Mary Ann Oakley
and lived at Eastfields Farm house in Grove Road, where he died in 1933 aged 74. He left one son, Edward
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 161 . MARCH 2007 . PAGE 10
The middle brother, Edward Ernest, was apparently not involved in local politics, and instead devoted himself to
the business and to St Mark’s church. Edward Mizen senior gave the land for the church to be built. Construction
commenced in December 1897 and the church was dedicated in March 1899, and consecrated in 1901. Ernest
was its first churchwarden. When St Mark’s was substantially rebuilt after damage in the Second World War,
the bell was donated by Mildred and Kate in memory of their parents, Alfred and Emily Mizen.
The three brothers, Edward J, Ernest and Alfred had two sisters, Alice and Elizabeth. Elizabeth became a
schoolteacher and both remained unmarried. Soon after Alice’s death in the 1920s Elizabeth donated a plot of
land, Long Bolstead, to Mitcham Urban District Council as a recreation ground, in memory of her sister. This is
still a recreation ground, in Woodstock Way at its junction with Clay Avenue.
When Eastfields Farm closed in 1960 the part of the land on the Acacia Road side of Grove Road was soon sold
to Mitcham Council for a new school. It became Eastfields School, now St Mark’s Church of England Academy.
The land between Grove Road and the railway could not be developed, as it was set aside for the M23 extension.
After a public enquiry in the summer of 1970 the motorway extension plans were eventually dropped in September
1978, and Firs Close and a block of flats were built on the site.
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 161 . MARCH 2007 . PAGE 11
One of the photographs
the Mizens Key Stage 2
For more information or
for a copy of the pack visit
A GEORGIAN SCHOOLBOY IN MITCHAM
In the Eton miscellany periodical called Etoniana there appeared in issues published between July 1935 and
February 1937 a series titled .The Letters of James Milnes Gaskell, 1824-7.. Most of the letters were written
during Gaskell’s time at Eton, but some are of more direct interest to us. The texts which follow are taken from
the first and last articles in the series.
.James Milnes Gaskell was the only child of Benjamin Gaskell, of Thornes House, co. York, and of Clifton Hall, M.P.
for Maldon, 1812-26, by Mary, eldest daughter of Dr. Brandreth of Liverpool.
.He was born on October 19, 1810, and must have been a precocious boy from the start, for as early as 1821 his letters
are like the letters of a grown-up person. In that year he was sent to Dr. Roberts. school at Mitcham, which was to
all intents and purposes a preparatory school for Eton, William Roberts,1 the master, being a brother of William and
John Roberts, Fellows of Eton, and a son of William Hayward Roberts, Provost of Eton. A long account of the school
written by the 6th Lord Monson, who was a pupil there from 1804 to 1809 was printed in Nos.39, 40 and 41 of
Etoniana.2 Gaskell wrote frequent letters home from Mitcham, describing the curriculum of the school and it is
interesting to note that it had undergone few changes. Mr. Roberts apparently still did all the teaching himself, except
writing and arithmetic: industrious boys were still rewarded by being allowed to sit up for supper with Mr. and Mrs.
Roberts: the number of boys received at the school was still about sixteen to twenty, but the master himself seems to
have become with advancing years more sparing of the rod. In Monson’s time, Roberts was said not to flog often,
but to cane most furiously, so much so that every room of his house had a cane on the ledge over the door; in
Gaskell’s time much less is heard of this propensity. But it must be remembered that Gaskell’s main desire was to do
as much work as possible, while Monson was much fonder of games. . [I]t is of some interest to note who were
[Gaskell’s] contemporaries, as so many of them became his school-fellows at Eton.
.Thus in 1821, Gaskell mentions J. Edward Ellice, Thomas Bankes, Meyrick Bankes, Baker, Charles R. Cockerell,
Thomas Egerton, Henry Bourdieu, Arthur J. Egerton, Thomas Acland, Apsley, Lord Bruce, Lord Boyle, N.V. Nash,
John Hope, George Legh, Henry Glynne, Albemarle Bertie, Henry Bertie, Lord Sandwich, Matthew Rushout, Lord
Boyle (who went to Harrow), Lord Eglinton, Bertie Matthews (who ran away and was sent home), G.V. Edwards,
Mathew, Ackers, Francis Kemp, son of a Brighton magistrate, Nash Edwards, John Ashley, Wigram, Lord George
Loftus, William and Charles Chambers, Philip Kemp, Buck (son of William Buck of Devon), Edward (?Ernest) Bruce,
Daly (son of an Irish M.P.), Augustus Villiers, and Villiers mi.3
.Gaskell seems to have been very happy at Mitcham; he worked hard, and already took a deep interest in current
politics. There is not much mention of games, but he seems to have been proficient at .trap..4 He was frequently
allowed to sit up to supper, which was a mark of merit, and on one occasion Mr. Roberts compared his Latin verses
with those formerly made by W.N. Lettsom,5 who had been at the school, 1804-9 and is mentioned in Lord Monson’s
.Gaskell describes the daily curriculum at Mitcham as follows:
I will now proceed to give you an account of business in my day. Calling . the maid comes through all the rooms at
half-past six . and we dress as fast as possible; then with our shoes in our hands we hasten downstairs; then we
learn our Farnaby by heart . that is eight lines of Greek Farnaby, then 8 lines of Ovid to repeat, then a quarter of a
page of Greek Grammar, then [do] 12 verses out of our own head on anything Mr. Roberts sets us. All this takes us
up to half-past eleven o’clock. Then comes our Cake- or Pie-woman, or whatever you please to call her and we buy,
you know, threepennyworth of whatever we like; then we go out till one o’clock generally, then we come in, and till
4 o’clock those that have done read and the others do their arrears. Then at 4 we dine, and after that do our Ovid for
the next day, and then that takes us to about half past 5, and then we go into prayers, come into pupil-room again at
6 o’clock, then have our supper and after that employ ourselves in different ways till 8 o’clock; then about 2, 3, 4, or
5 of us sit up to supper, then the rest march off to bed..
Gaskell entered Eton in 1824 and went on to Oxford. The anonymous writer in Etoniana comments:
.[Gaskell’s] later career hardly showed all the brilliancy that might have been expected. It is true that he found a seat
in the House of Commons for Much Wenlock in 1832, and retained it (with the exception of the 1835 election)
uncontested till 1868, but beyond holding the office of a Lord of the Treasury from 1841 to 1846, he achieved no
distinction. He died February 5, 1873..
This is an error. He was Richard Roberts.
The version of Lord Monson’s reminiscences published in Etoniana is slightly shorter than the version held at Merton Local Studies
Centre, and has one or two errors and omissions. Merton Historical Society has published the latter version, as Local History Notes . 17:
Lord Monson’s Schooldays. It is obtainable from the Publications Officer, Peter Hopkins, 57 Templecombe Way, Morden SM4 4JF, 020
Using a bat to hit a ball propelled from a wooden .trap.
William Nanson Lettsom (1796-1865) devoted his life to literature, particularly the works of Shakespeare. Translated the Niebelungenlied.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 161 . MARCH 2007 . PAGE 12
GEOFFREY WILSON has lived most of his life in Wimbledon or Merton Park. A historian and writer
with a special interest in transport, he is the author of, among other titles, London United Tramways, A History, 1894-1933 Allen & Unwin (1971). He has kindly contributed the following article:
TRAMS IN MERTON . a Centenary
Just a century ago electric trams began running through the Urban District of Merton & Morden, the Borough
of Wimbledon and a corner of Mitcham.
They were owned by the London United Electric Tramways (LUT), a company-owned system that had expanded
its operation from Shepherds Bush to Uxbridge and from Hammersmith to Hounslow, Twickenham, Teddington
and Hampton Court. In 1905 the tracks entered Kingston, where a local network of routes was opened, and
thence to New Malden Fountain.
The company’s energetic managing director Clifton (later Sir Clifton) Robinson, aimed to link his system with
that of the London County Council (LCC) by an extension from New Malden to Raynes Park, Wimbledon,
Merton and Colliers Wood to a terminus just over the county boundary at Longley Road, Tooting, there to meet,
but not physically connect with, an LCC route from Westminster and Blackfriars through Clapham and Balham.
The extension from New Malden had been expensive. The route lay first along Burlington Road, West Barnes
Lane and Coombe Lane. In West Barnes Lane many trees had to be felled to widen the road sufficiently for a
double line of rails. The LUT had to pay the London and South Western Railway for a new girder bridge over
West Barnes Lane to replace a low arch.
The New Malden . Tooting line opened
in three stages in 1907, first to Raynes
Park, then to Ely’s Corner, Wimbledon,
and finally to Tooting. The New Malden
– Raynes Park section opened after being
passed by Colonel Yorke, the Board of
Trade’s Inspecting Officer, with the
proviso that the LUT should improve the
wood paving it had had to lay in
Burlington Road. A photograph exists
showing the first tram rounding the
curve at the junction of West Barnes
Lane and Coombe Lane. It shows
Colonel Yorke with Robinson and other
officials of the LUT on the tram’s front
platform. The tram was new and may
well count as a ‘state of the art. electric
tramcar of its day. Trams of this type
had inaugurated the Kingston services,
but they were soon withdrawn to run on
the long, busy route between Shepherds Bush and Uxbridge through Acton, Ealing and Southall.
Unlike the earlier LUT trams introduced in 1901 and the next two years for the Middlesex routes, the new cars
had covered top decks, with open balconies at each end whose projection afforded the drivers below some
refuge from the elements.
The New Malden . Tooting route had therefore to be served by the older open-top trams, some of which were
later given covered tops of a rather inelegant type.
At the Tooting terminus, a gap of a few yards separated the termini of the LUT and the LCC, so that there was
a necessary change for through passengers in the middle of High Street, Colliers Wood, facing Waterfall House.
The gap was closed in 1922 when the LCC took over the working between Tooting and Wimbledon. For this
purpose the LCC’s trams had to be equipped with trolleys to engage with the LUT-installed overhead wires.
When on their own system the LCC trams drew their power from a sub-surface contact. Engaging with it was
a removable .plough. which ran in a slotted rail between the running rails.
When the LCC began to run through Wimbledon the LUT service was cut back to Wimbledon . Hampton
Court. On summer Saturday afternoons and Sundays some LCC trams continued over LUT tracks to Kingston
and Hampton Court, giving through passengers a very long ride from the Embankment. By this time the original
LUT trams had begun to look rather archaic alongside the then new .Pullman. cars of the LCC.
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
Opening day of the New Malden . Raynes Park section, with Board of Trade inspectors and LUT chief officers on a new .T. class tram.
All the postcard views are from the collection of Alan A Jackson, to whom we are most grateful.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 161 . MARCH 2007 . PAGE 13
At fine weekends the LUT was
sometimes hard put to it to find enough
trams to carry passengers to the Thames
riverside and Hampton Court, whereas
the rather sporadic traffic at other times
would have been catered for by a
reduced fleet. The seasonal nature of
the traffic meant that more trams had to
be maintained than would otherwise have
Soon it became clear that insufficient
funds had been set aside for upkeep of
cars and tracks. The LUT was never a
.bullish. concern and it might be argued
that only its absorption into a bigger group
kept it sufficiently alive.
A fine new fleet of trams for the most
remunerative line, to Uxbridge, came
rather late in the day. These 46 trams, perhaps the most advanced in the country at the time, did not run more
than a few years on their first habitat. With the formation of the London Passenger Board in 1933 they were
transferred to the former LCC’s long Embankment to Purley route.
It has to be said that had the design and performance of motorbuses been sufficiently advanced at the time it is
doubtful whether the LUT would have extended into the Thames Valley and Surrey. This part of the system was
never remunerative enough. As early as 1909, at the company’s general meeting, the chairman Sir James Cater
Scott admitted that too little had been set aside to cover depreciation of trams and track. He declared that with
the advent of higher capacity and more reliable motorbuses no sensible person would now promote a company
tramway. Indeed, the appearance on the market of reliable buses suitable for rugged town work showed up the
limitations of company tramway systems ever more clearly.
The LUT never paid more than 2.5% on even its preference shares. However, even the Metropolitan Electric
Tramways, serving a much denser population in north London, was not much more profitable.
All the LUT trams were stabled at a large, fully equipped, depot at Fulwell, near Richmond. Although efforts
were made to find a suitable site for a small depot in West Barnes Lane, Colliers Wood or Plough Lane, it is
curious that the LUT did not make a greater effort to secure such a site, for running empty cars to and from
Fulwell at the beginning and end of the day’s service was time-wasting and expensive.
In 1916 the LUT routes in the Thames Valley and Surrey first faced a competitor, the London and South
Western Railway (LSWR), which inaugurated electric trains on its suburban routes. Wimbledon had already
enjoyed electric trains since 1905 when the District Railway was wholly electrified, including the Putney Bridge
. Wimbledon route of the LSWR over
which its trains ran.
Nevertheless the LUT was able to
weather the storm from Waterloo, and
the subsequent appointment of former
Bradford tramways manager C J
Spencer as manager and engineer was
an excellent one and revived the
company’s fortunes to a marked extent,
though the need to maintain a large
number of trams for summer weekend
traffic remained a burden.
Ten years later, in 1926, the LCC had to
contend with the new competition of the
tube railway extension from Clapham
Common to Morden, which included
stations at Colliers Wood and the
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
An LUT tram for Hampton Court in the foreground, and an LCC car
from the Embankment in background, at the LCC border in Tooting.
Probably a bank holiday crowd.
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
A .flood car. in Burlington Road. A corner of Shannon’s building can be seen
on the right. .Flood cars. were adapted from existing cars to afford service
when part of Burlington Road was flooded by the Beverley Brook.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 161 . MARCH 2007 . PAGE 14
inaccurately named ‘south Wimbledon’
at Merton Grove.
Spencer had pioneered trolleybuses on
one route in Bradford back in 1910, and
in 1931 he introduced London’s first
trolleybuses, nicknamed .Diddlers.,
between Twickenham and Teddington.
Powers were obtained to convert the
whole system, and eventually trams were
only retained on the busy Uxbridge and
When in 1931 trolleybuses replaced
trams between Wimbledon and Hampton
Court LCC trams continued to run
between Tooting and a new Wimbledon
terminus in the Broadway facing the
town hall, replacing that at the foot of
The .Diddler. trolleybuses were later replaced by a new type which became standard for the expanding London
network. When they in turn were displaced some went to Spanish cities, a far cry indeed from their former haunt.
In 1933 all public transport in London became the responsibility of the new London Passenger Transport Board
(London Transport for short), but in our district there was no drastic change until 1951 when all London’s
remaining tramways were abandoned. In 1961 trolleybuses followed suit, from which time London Transport
concentrated on diesel buses. Between 1891 and 1961 the Tooting . Raynes Park section had seen horse buses
(between Peckham and Raynes Park), trams, trolleybuses, and finally diesel buses.
Once again a .London United. operator, but of buses, now covers the former Tooting . Kingston line, although
a change is needed at Kingston for Hampton Court, Teddington and Twickenham.
In a sense, though, the tram wheel has turned full circle in the London Borough of Merton, which in recent years
has seen a new brand of tramway . the Tramlink . embracing the former Wimbledon . West Croydon suburban
Having looked at the history of trams in Merton it is worth examining briefly some aspects of trams and tramway
Apart from some sections in Worple Road and in Merton Road, the Hampton Court . Tooting route was double-
track. The LUT had been put to extra expense by the cost of widening in Worple Road and the Broadway in
Wimbledon. However, the High Streets of Merton and Colliers Wood were wide enough for the most part already.
As motor traffic grew it became
increasingly risky to board or alight from
a vehicle bound to the centre of the road,
although on some provincial systems
where the road was wide enough a
central loading platform lessened the
danger. Trolleybuses obviated the
problem, and their introduction between
Wimbledon and Hampton Court was
certainly welcomed in this respect. The
layout of modern tram systems has to
take passenger safety very seriously and
this is much in evidence on the Tramlink
system in Croydon’s inner streets.
Compulsory and request stops were
clearly marked by roadside signs on the
standards supporting the overhead wires.
The standards themselves were
numbered in sequence.
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
A tram for Hampton Court in West Barnes Lane.
(Rectangle comment XPMUser
An LUT tram turning from Merton Road into Merton High Street.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 161 . MARCH 2007 . PAGE 15
Fare stages were introduced in the 1920s. One (old) penny (1d) was charged for a journey of two stages, with
20 stages costing a shilling (5p in today’s currency). In general fares for children were half those for adults.
Workmen were entitled to reduced fares, for example 1d single and 2d return between Tooting and Kingston.
Drivers, conductors and inspectors all wore uniforms, and woe betide any who came on duty looking less than
immaculate. In the earlier trams in particular the drivers were unprotected. In bad weather they donned a
mackintosh and sou.wester, which, with the twirl of the handbrake, gave a nautical touch to the proceedings!
No time was allowed for a midday break. However, crews on the short Kingston Hill route were lucky in having a
Lady Bountiful living near the terminus who regaled them with a snack and a drink during the brief turn-round time.
The conductor’s duties were varied. Not only had he to issue tickets from a rack he carried, and give change, but
he had to ensure that the tram was not overcrowded, that smokers were confined to the upper deck and, after
motor traffic grew, extend an arm to protect passengers boarding or alighting from his tram. At the terminus he
had to swing the trolley arm round by means of a rope to the trailing position for the return run.
Trolleybus conductors sometimes had another duty. If one of the two trolley arms left the wires because the
vehicle had been driven too fast over a junction or round a corner the conductor had to go .fishing. with a long
bamboo rod carried on the bus’s side, retrieve the offending arm and set it on the wire again, a procedure which
rather detracted from the image of the new form of transport!
A removable board at the outer end of the upper deck of tramcars carried the name of the destination. The
lower sides carried a full-length board detailing the main places served. Commercial advertisements were carried
on the upper ends and sides of trams. The products advertised included Lipton’s Tea, Epps’s Cocoa, Black &
White Whisky, Matinée Turkish Cigarettes, Zebra Grate Polish and Borwick’s Baking Powder.
The lower deck was equipped with moquette-covered longitudinal seating, but the top deck had only wooden
transverse seats, with backs that were thrown over to correspond with the direction of travel.
Although comparatively rare, occasional accidents and derailments were inevitable, and I recall an instance of
the latter in Wimbledon, where an LCC car coming from Hampton Court on a Saturday was partly derailed
when turning from Worple Road into Hill Road. The errant front bogie wheels were coaxed back onto the rails
with bars wielded by the crew.
Between 1925 and 1940 my parents lived fairly close to the Wimbledon . Hampton Court route, in Wimbledon
and Raynes Park. I came to know the route intimately. It was a childhood delight to ride on the upper deck of an
open-top tram and watch the trolley arm dip as the car passed below a bridge. We would often visit Hampton
Court at summer weekends, and my parents would choose to wait for one of the more modern and comfortable
You may have heard that Wandsworth council has voted to close Wandsworth Museum. This excellent local
museum, which is well supported by local people and was one of the first Greater London museums to be
accredited, celebrated 20 years of existence in 2006.
Your committee has written in support of the Museum, as have individual committee members. Letters count for
much more than signatures on a protest sheet, and it is not too late to register your opposition to the closure by
writing to the Leader of Wandsworth Council and/or the Chair of its Environment and Leisure Overview &
Cllr Edward Lister Cllr Paul Ellis
Leader’s Office Chair ELOSC
Wandsworth Town Hall The Members. Room
Wandsworth High Street Wandsworth Town Hall
London SW18 2PU Wandsworth High Street
London SW18 2PU
Letters and contributions for the Bulletin should be sent to the Hon. Editor. The views expressed in this
Bulletin are those of the contributors concerned and not necessarily those of the Society or its Officers.
Printed by Peter Hopkins
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY . BULLETIN 161 . MARCH 2007 . PAGE 16