June 2011 Bulletin 178
The Morden Tavern: a pub for Heroes D L Ingram
A Red Herring on the Antiques Roadshow D Haunton
The East Window of St Lawrence’s Church, Morden P J Hopkins
Memories of Exciting Times K Gibbons/D Haunton
and much more
VICE PRESIDENTS: Viscountess Hanworth, Eric Montague and William Rudd
CHAIR: Dr Tony Scott
BULLETIN NO. 178 JUNE 2011
The Morden Tavern 2011 (photograph by David Roe) – see page 8
Programme: July -September 2
Reports: ‘Wimbledon Theatre – Then and Now’ 3
A postscript on Wimbledon Theatre 4
‘Here Yesterday and Gone Tomorrow’ 4
‘The Croydon Canal and East Surrey’s Integrated Transport System’ 6
Local History Workshop 25 March: Photos of Abbey Road; a wartime evacuee; art in wartime
restaurants; poet Emma Lazarus; location of Merton Place; glass at St Lawrence; Morden’s 1910
Valuations; the Palmers of Grand Drive 7
The Morden Tavern: A Pub for Heroes – Dale L Ingram 8
A Red Herring on the Antiques Roadshow – David Haunton 9
The East Window of St Lawrence’s Church, Morden – Peter Hopkins 10
Memories of Exciting Times – Ken Gibbons and David Haunton 12
Society Talks Survey – David Haunton 15
A Tailpiece – Judith Goodman 16
Bill Rudd’s Morden 16
Visitors are welcome to attend our talks. Entry £2.
Saturday 9 July 2.30pm A Walk on Mitcham Common
Meet in Carshalton Road at Mitcham Junction station by bus stop on bridge. The walk will be led
by Melanie Nunzet, a Friend of Mitcham Common. No need to book, and no charge.
Please wear sensible shoes!
Tuesday 16 August Guided Tour of Wandsworth Museum
This new museum is at 38 West Hill SW18, a 15-minute walk from Wandsworth town centre
or East Putney station. Buses pass the door.
Meet at 2pm in the main entrance or from 1pm in the café. £5 per head covers the cost of
the tour and admission for a year.
Thursday 8 September 2.30pm Visit to West Norwood Cemetery
Meet under the stone archway at the main entrance at Norwood/Robson Roads for a free
guided tour of this Grade II* listed cemetery. Nearest stations: West Norwood or Tulse Hill.
There is a direct service to the latter from Wimbledon at 28 and 58 minutes past the hour.
The 1.58 (check train time) is suggested.
Friday 23 September 10.45 for 11am Guided Tour of New Wimbledon Theatre
Meet outside the entrance. The tour costs £3 per head, payable on the day.
This tour is now fully booked, but if there is enough interest a second tour may be arranged,
a date to be announced.
Evelyn Jowett Memorial Lecture at Raynes Park Library Hall 29 October: Peter Hopkins and Sarah
Gould on Morden Park.
AGM and talk on highwaymen by Clive Whichelow on 19 November at Christ Church hall
Talk on Violette Szabo by Daphne and Richard Marchant on 10 December at Raynes Park Library
Talk on Merton’s Railways by David Luff on 21 January at Christchurch hall.
All meetings will be at 2.30pm. Further details in next Bulletin.
For the Bookshelf – and the Pocket
The Wimbledon Society Museum Press has had the bright idea of reviving the old
Town Trail leaflets.Theyhave,onbehalfofthatSocietyandourown,republishedthem
as a single pocket-sized, spiral-bound booklet. And they have added a new one – the
Bishop Gilpin Trail. The other texts have been brought up to date, and they all provide
an interesting way to explore some historic parts of the Borough. Despite a few small
defects – erratic and sometimes confusing punctuation; some horrible splitting of words
for the sake, I suppose, of spacing; misspelling of ‘Hatfeild’, and ‘Kaufmann’; and
variable quality of the maps – the booklet will be useful and fun, and most of the trails
are less than the two to three miles cited, so are not too arduous. Please note however
that some late-stage intervention by the publisher has made a nonsense of no.13 in the
Merton Park trail: delete ‘Merton Cottage’ and replace with ‘the lodge’!
The booklet retails at £4.99, but is available to members at £3.50, plus £1 for postage.
We also have a few copies of Mitcham Common – a short history, recently published in
colour by the Friends of Mitcham Common, at £3 plus £1 postage.
We also have a few copies of Surrey Record Society’s Mitcham Settlement Examinations 1784-1814
knockdown price of £1 (+ £1.25 for postage). This is a fascinating collection of brief
biographies of people
seeking poor relief during a period of war and bad harvests.
All three are available from our Publications Secretary, Peter Hopkins.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 178 – JUNE 2011 – PAGE 2
‘WIMBLEDON THEATRE – THEN AND NOW’
In February we welcomed Sam Bain, the Deputy General Manager (now General Manager) of New
Theatre to give us an insight into the theatre’s history. It is situated in Wimbledon Broadway
its 100th anniversary on Boxing Day 2010, with Peter Pan. It had opened on Boxing Day in 1910
pantomime Jack and Jill.
The theatre is a Grade II listed building. It was built for J B Mulholland, having been
designed by Cecil
Aubrey Massey and Roy Young. It comprised an Edwardian auditorium decorated in both Georgian
Renaissance style, across three levels of seating. Originally it had a seating capacity of 3000
but now seats 1500
(one of the largest in London) and is able to stage large productions, including musicals,
operas and ballets.
Over 250,000 theatre-goers are entertained at the theatre each year – with an average of 45
Apart from the main house there is also a studio theatre which can seat 80 and is used for
and comedies. The premiere of A Fans Club, a musical based on the formation of AFC Wimbledon,
there in 2005.
A Turkish bath was once housed in the building, and parts still exist in the basement in an
area now occupied
by the Bar Sia.
By the time of his death in 1925 Mulholland had established Wimbledon as one of the best
touring dates in
the country. During the inter-war years and later there were big shows, and popular
entertainers and actors,
including Gracie Fields, Noel Coward, Laurel and Hardy, John Mills, Norman Wisdom, Dirk
Steele, Alicai Markova, Timothy Dalton and Joan Collins, appeared there. It hosted the final
of Marlene Dietrich. The world premiere of Lionel Bart’s Oliver (1960) and Half a Sixpence
Steele (1963) were staged there.
Televised pantomime and Christmas shows have been broadcast from the theatre, and it has been
used in the
The Bill, Little Britain, and The IT Crowd.
Wimbledon Theatre was threatened with closure in the 1960s, but the local council bought the
the Mulholland family. After refurbishment and redecoration it reopened in 1968 under the new
of Merton Civic Theatre Trust. In 1991 the gallery was re-tiered, and the statue known as the
‘angel’ on top of
the dome, which had been lost during the war, was replaced with a new one.
Until 2001 it was run by the Wimbledon Civic Theatre Trust on behalf of the London Borough of
still owns the freehold. A multi-million pound refurbishment in the late 1990s was helped by a
and included a new backstage area, fly tower, reseating of the orchestra stalls, and redecoration.
But it fell into
Wimbledon Theatre was taken over by the Ambassador
Theatre Group (ATG), the second largest theatre group both
in the West End and in the regions, who own the Apollo
Victoria, Donmar Warehouse, the Comedy, the Lyceum
among others. It reopened as the New Wimbledon Theatre
in 2004 with Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!
In 2008 it was the venue for HRH the Prince of Wales’s
60th birthday gala We Are Most Amused in aid of the The
Prince’s Trust. The theatre is very proud of its reputation
as the home of London pantomime, and recent productions
have starred Ross Kemp, Henry Winkler, John Barrowman,
Anita Dobson, Pamela Anderson, and many others.
Most theatres have a raked stage sloping towards the
audience, but the New Wimbledon now has an anti-raked
stage, which is judged to be more suitable for modern shows.
ATG adds a restoration charge of £1 per ticket, which has so
far funded new dressing-rooms and a green room.
The Founder Friends of New Wimbledon Theatre have
contributed to many improvements over the years. They
currently provide volunteer stewards at performances, and
as a centenary gift funded a major front-of-house makeover
of the Studio Theatre.
A Founder Friends of Wimbledon Theatre postcard
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 178 – JUNE 2011 – PAGE 3
As part of the centenary celebrations the theatre held an open day, and an all-stars evening,
dancers, comedians, ventriloquist, ballet, and old-time musical. This was introduced by Eamonn
Ruth Langsford and hosted by Shane Richie. The proceeds went to the Wimbledon Theatre Civic
helps young people, including the disadvantaged, and the Entertainment Artistes’ Benevolent
Finally, it is rumoured that the theatre is haunted by an elderly gentleman in Edwardian dress,
who sits in the
dress circle and is believed to be Mr Mulholland, and also by a lady with long hair and
Victorian or Edwardian
dress who has been seen at the front of the stage. Mike Lyas, manager for many years, reported
seeing her in
Sam’s interesting and informative talk was illustrated with many photographs of programmes from
views of the theatre, and stars who have appeared there.
Postscript by David Haunton and Bert Sweet
We can learn a little more about the site from local street directories and Richard Milward’s
the conventional idea that the soil was black from burning, or water or previous occupation.
the local earth is a light yellowish brown, I would incline to the latter explanation, were it
not for my Norfolk
grandfather’s comment on Fenland fields
–’good blackstuff’– which seems to imply that
This may be supported by the fact that, from having been owned by Merton Priory in the 13th
was still growing wheat commercially in the second half of the 19th century.
Russell and Palmerstone Roads were emplaced across the field in the 1870s, and a substantial
house and garden
laid out on Merton Road (as it then was – at that date Wimbledon Broadway became Merton Road at
Gladstone Road intersection). In 1887 this was known as Stanhope House, occupied by a Mr
he was followed by Dr C W Brabyn, who moved to Queens Road before 1897. Thereafter the house
have been used as a school until it was demolished to make way for the Theatre.
PPS Students of continuity should note that, in 1887, no.19 Merton Road (on the opposite corner
Road to the theatre) housed a dentist’s surgery – and it still does today.
‘HERE YESTERDA Y AND GONE TOMORROW’
Our March lecture was given by David Roe, who, as well as being our highly competent Hon.
(in 2004) and continues to run the Society’s photographic project. The purpose of the project
is to create a
future historians. The Society keeps the photos, carefully documented by David, and also
deposits copies at
Surrey History Centre at Woking for anyone to inspect.
For this occasion David had selected 115 images to show us. Many were his own work, but Mick
former project members Desmond Bazley, Ray
Ninnis, and this reviewer were also represented.
The title of the talk was a reminder that buildings
can and do disappear, and views change. He divided
his presentation into several categories.
Among the older Historic Buildings shown were
Mitcham’s very fine Eagle House and the dovecote
at The Canons; Morden Park house (now the register
office); Mill Cottage and The Bothy a tMorden Hall
Park; and the Norman arch from Merton Priory,
now standing between church and vicarage at St
Mary’s Merton. More modern structures included
the Western Road gasholder; the Baital Futuh
Mosque in Morden (a conversion and extension of
an Express Dairies complex); St John Fisher church
in Cannon Hill Lane; and the Civic Centre.
The Dovecote at The Canons (Ray Ninnis)
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 178 – JUNE 2011 – PAGE 4
In the Before and After category were the extensions
at Merton College (now the Merton Campus of South
Thames College); environmental improvements at
Three Kings Pond; the old and new vicarages at
St John the Divine, High Path; the replacement of
Sleepeezee by Big Yellow Storage in Morden Road;
and the development of the Beehive site in Mitcham.
Scenery included Wandle Valley Nature Park, once
a sewage works; Seven Islands Pond on Mitcham
Common; and Ravensbury Park.
Gilbey’s menswear shop in Morden; Bernice’s Bridal
Wear in Grand Drive; and Morden’s Woolworths. The
photographers had been able, with permission, to
capture interior views at Webbs shoe shop at Figges
Marsh, Blubarry’s Dance Wear in Green Lane, St Helier and Strowgers hardware in London Road,
While there have been recent arrivals from other countries this phenomenon is nothing new. The
Panetteria Italiana baker’s shop in Merton Park opened in 1968.
Among the Inscriptions we saw the milestone at Lower Green West; a headstone in Mitcham’s
Cemetery in the form of a diving helmet; a plaque on Roe Bridge (at the border with Streatham)
its construction with the Merchant Taylors and possibly with their Master in 1553 Sir Thomas
Roe; and the
headstone commemorating Maud Gummow and her parents in the graveyard of St Mary Merton. Miss
left the Society more than £10,000 in her will in 2007.
A large section of the lecture was devoted to Events and People. Under this comprehensive
Trafalgar Bicentenary events at Nelson Gardens and Morden Hall Park in 2005; Young’s dray
horses (gone now,
alas!) parading at the 16th birthday celebrations of Merton Abbey Mills in 2005; Indian dancers
at Merton Public
Hall; ladies of Cranleigh Lawn Tennis Club in Edwardian dress at the John Innes Park centenary
in 2009; a car boot fair in Morden Park in 2009; Christmas lights in Lower Morden Lane; and a
cart from Jack Sparrowhawk & Son in Mitcham in 2008.
A great variety of Domestic Architecture included Morden’s weatherboarded Church Farm Cottage;
(from old London Bridge?) ‘folly’ in Phipps Bridge Road; Edwardian bargeboards and decorative
Merton’s Chatsworth Avenue and Merton Hall Road; Mitcham Garden Village; the single surviving
at Phipps Bridge; and new apartments replacing part of a shopping parade in Kingston Road.
David told us that more than 800 photographs have been taken and professionally archived at
Centre, Woking. The Society’s own copies are on CDs and also in albums. These are in David’s
anyone who wishes to see them should contact him. He hopes to expand the collection by
borrowing and copying
photos taken by others, or by donations. He has already been able to copy nearly 1000 slides of
by Eric Montague and has passed copies to Woking. He would like to see copies of all the images
at the Local
Studies Centre, provided that permission to download or print remains with the Society.
Meanwhile he is asking
for more volunteers – all that is needed is a reasonably good digital camera and some spare
David’s talk was much appreciated by a large audience, and his famously dry humour ensured that
amused as well as instructed. It was a most enjoyable afternoon.
Members may be interested to know that Melanie Nunzet, who will be taking us for our walk on
Common on 9 July, will also be leading a three-to-four-mile walk connected with the 2011
harvest on Sunday 31 July. The walk will start at Carshalton station at 11.50am, and a barbecue
refreshments will be available at the Stanley Road allotments. Those wishing to take part in
the harvest are
reminded to bring their own scissors!
Sleepeezee (David Roe)
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 178 – JUNE 2011 – PAGE 5
‘THE CROYDON CANAL AND EAST SURREY’S INTEGRATED
In April we welcomed an old friend, Paul Sowan of Croydon Natural History and Scientific
Society, at Raynes
Park Library Hall to speak on a subject unusual for him. He has told us in the past about
various aspects of
‘underground’ Surrey, but in 2009 he was invited to take on the Croydon Canal for a talk to the
of the Railway & Canal Historical Society. In this he has been aided by work done by Peter
we know for his immense dossier on the Wandle mills), whose (unpublished) notes on the canal
at Croydon Local Studies Library. For both him and our speaker primary sources are the key to
and Paul stressed that the talk he had prepared for us was very much ‘work in progress’.
The Grand Surrey Canal opened in 1810 from the Rotherhithe docks to Camberwell, and the Croydon
which ran from a junction with it at New Cross through Penge and Norwood to Croydon’s North
extended in 1811, probably in September, to low-lying Pitlake near the parish church.
Why a canal to Croydon? Paul pointed out that though Croydon was small (pop. c.5000 in 1801) it
between London and the Weald. From the latter came building stone, timber, fuller’s earth, sand
and so on. There
was no navigable river to take these materials onward, and transport by ox wagon was slow and
canal seemed to make sense, especially as it was to link up at Pitlake with the Surrey Iron
1803) and the Croydon, Merstham & Godstone Iron Railway (opened 1805). Coal was probably the
As for the route, it would have best suited the promoters to have run their canal up the Wandle
Valley and to
chosen 26 locks were needed to take vessels up 150ft (45m) between New Cross and Forest Hill;
then a long run across the gravels of Croydon Common (today’s Selhurst Park and surrounding
area), and two
more locks at Selhurst to reach the wharf. The terminus basin occupied a site straddling
today’s West Croydon
railway and bus stations. From there a short tram road, presumably cheaper to construct than
led down to a triangular interchange with the SIR and the CMGIR. Traction may have been by
possibly by a winding mechanism. The alignment of this tram road is followed by today’s
On Croydon Common the canal crossed Norbury Brook, which could have been a useful source of
again the Wandle mill-owners were quick to forestall any such scheme, for the Norbury Brook
River Graveney and goes on to feed the lower reaches of the Wandle. The (expensive) solution
was to build
two large reservoirs at Norwood, one of which survives today as South Norwood Lake.
The canal, like the two railways it linked with, was never a commercial success, but the
made it a
fishing. At Norwood
Jolly Sailor had
a tea garden on the canal bank, and gave its name to an early railway station when the London &
Railway Company bought the canal in 1836, and built their new railway line on or very close to
the canal bed,
except where the canal took a broad curve on a contour at Norwood. The only surviving fragment
of the canal
today can be seen in Betts Park, Anerley.
Paul had been able to track
down several early maps of
the canal, and was intrigued by
one, and only one, that showed
a ‘well’ near Norbury Brook.
He has discovered that in the
1890s a laundry well nearby
was recorded as tapping water
far below the local gravel and
clay strata, and he speculated
that the canal builders might
have investigated these deep
beds for their own purposes. He
is pursuing this possibility.
Paul’s large audience thoroughly
enjoyed his lively talk and wished
him well with his research.
The Croydon Canal – a wood near Penge, from a copy of a print of 1815
held by Croydon Local Studies Library & Archives Service
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 178 – JUNE 2011 – PAGE 6
LOCAL HISTORY WORKSHOP
Friday 25 March 2011 – seven present – Rosemary Turner in the chair
Bill Rudd, as usual, had
some interesting photos. This
batch, from 1963, had been
taken of, and also from, No.45
Abbey Road, Merton, at roof
height (thanks to friendly
workmen). Several were of the
unusual ‘hollowed-out’ roof
of this building, which stood
on a large plot on the corner
between Abbey Road and High
Path. Others showed some of
the industrial buildings nearby,
a rear view of the Princess
Royal (now closed), and a
terrace of eight houses on
the even-number east side of
Abbey Road. No.45 itself has
long since gone.
David Haunton, to
whom he had been recounting his experiences as a boy of 12 when, at the start of the war, he
from Pelham School, in south Wimbledon, to rural Sussex. See page 12 for the first part of his
as told to David.
Judith Goodman, in correspondence with member John Pile, had been reminded of the John Piper
the wartime British Restaurant in Morden Road, Merton, and had brought along an illustrated
and Murals’, from the Architectural Review for 1943. Piper’s work, which showed mainly
including of course Merton priory, was strikingly sombre, in contrast with the cheerful
decorations in most
other British Restaurants. The whole national enterprise was masterminded by Sir Kenneth
Clark and his wife.
Judith had also been reading a recent (2006) biography of the young American poet and radical
in Century magazine an enthusiastic account of a visit in 1883 to William Morris and his Merton
Cyril Maidment’s time. He has
been aligning two centuries’ worth of maps and plans, and incidentally pointed out that until
redevelopment of the High Path area the divisions shown on the 1823 sale plan were still
clearly visible in
the layout of ‘Nelson’s Fields’. He has discovered that the modern flats called Merton Place
to the west of the site of one arm of Nelson’s ornamental canal, and the house stood a little
way to the east.
Peter Hopkins’s immense Medieval Morden, Vol 1: The Manorial Economy has reached the proof-
Peter also had an interesting report on an inspection visit to the east window at St Lawrence
Rosemary Turner is still wrestling with the 1910 Valuation Records for Morden, which she is
a database, and for which she is tackling the problems of an index – spelling variations are
only one hazard.
She had photographed some medieval tiles from St Catherine’s Chapel at Westminster Abbey, and
reminded us that tiles at Merton are thought to have been made at Westminster.
Still on the trail of lacemaker Blanche Goad (see the previous Bulletin) she had discovered
that Lady Palmer
of Grand Drive, who hosted lace classes, was the wife of a distinguished Civil Service knight.
has now gone.
Dates of next Workshops: Fridays24 June,5Augustand 30 September at 2.30pmatWandleIndustrial
Rear of the Princess Royal, Abbey Road, Merton 1963, photograph by Bill Rudd
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 178 – JUNE 2011 – PAGE 7
The following article by DALE L INGRAM MSc, historic buildings consultant and member of CAMRA
(Campaign for Real Ale), appeared in The London Drinker, Vol 33, no.1 February/March 2011 and
reprinted here with permission. It has been slightly shortened. (See photograph on front cover)
THE MORDEN TAVERN: A PUB FOR HEROES
This fine 1933 pub in the 17th-century vernacular revival style by noted pub architect Sir Harry
has endured the vicissitudes of many a suburban pub since the inter-war heyday of pub building.
two particularly ferocious campaigns of alterations, in 1962 and again in 1974, it lost key
parts of the wonderful
historic interiors that Redfern and indeed many of his contemporaries like Sidney Clark at
large and decorative
against the Secretary of State’s refusal to list the pub in September of last year, however
illustrious the architect,
impossible. Listing, despite common perception, does not ‘preserve a building in aspic’ forever;
it merely applies
controls over changes that affect the things that make it special – mostly the physical
materials it is made of,
but often too its setting, or surroundings. What survives is the external fabric, some internal
joinery at ground
floor level, and many original fittings and fixtures
on the upper
as fine blue and white tiling in the
bathrooms, enamel baths and Art Deco sinks. A really key part of its survival is its setting – in
a very large garden
listable (i.e. by English Heritage).
What makes the Morden Tavern special is two key features. The first is that it is a notable
design by a versatile
and highly regarded inter-war architect knighted for his contribution to architecture. More
then that, he was
and very large, example. It is the second largest by the London County Council (LCC)’s ‘Homes
initiative and replacement dwellings for inner London slums demolished as unfit for habitation
during and after
First World War.
at Becontree, itself
home to at
one, and possibly more, fine 1930s
pubs, but not, to my knowledge, by Redfern. Sir Harry enjoys a splendid reputation as the
designer of a whole
series of inter-war pubs in a variety of architectural styles, on a major social housing
development in Carlisle.
known as the State Management System. For the SMS Redfern designed no fewer than 14 pubs, seven
survive and all of which are Grade II listed. Fortunately they have not been quite so brutally
treated as ‘The
Tav’, although one, like the Morden Tavern, is threatened with conversion to a Tesco.
The St Helier housing estate itself gives the Mordern Tavern its second stab at importance as a
domestic, residential setting, and all by Redfern. Their purpose was to be a social focus,
deemed essential to
the happiness and well-being of the thousands of residents who lived there. The 1930s
‘improved’ pub was no
residential areas, and catering for the needs of families. They were expected to make a lot of
their income – the
the cooking and serving of meals. In addition there were often dance halls, billiards rooms,
and external garden spaces similarly subdivided for eating, drinking and playing. Rooms could
be hired for
parties and events, and catering provided for a wide variety of community occasions, from
weddings to wakes,
engagement parties to electioneering.
When researching the history of Redfern’s creation in the autumn of last year it was discovered
that the LCC
architects department had been meticulous in its building records. London Metropolitan Archives
most complete building history file I have ever found on a research subject. Everything is
there, from the original
licensees and a full set of documentation relating to the unfortunate alterations of the ’60s
and ’70s. If it were
to burn down, it would be possible to recreate it again, to the very last galvanised steel
nails used to hang the
slates (1¾ inches if you are interested).
recognition, and this pub, sadly closed since August 2010, was subsequently added to the
Borough’s Local List
of architecturally and historically important buildings by Ged Curran, Merton’s Chief
Executive, in December.
While Local List status does not confer statutory (i.e. legal) protection under the main 1990
Act, the recent
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 178 – JUNE 2011 – PAGE 8
introduction of something called PPS5 means that proper consideration must be given to Locally
special qualities when applications for alterations to the fabric of the building, or its
setting, are made.
From various communications between the Campaign for the Morden Tavern, CAMRA and Merton
the conservation and design team’, which will see a scheme of new houses built over the large
gardens to the
rear, and conversion of the upper floors of the pub to apartments, and the open plan
groundfloor to retail uses,
including a bar.
This bar is somehow supposed to mitigate the loss of what is, and was meant to be, a
multifaceted hub of social
activity for every member of the St Helier community. In reality, it is in effect returning to
the days of the
Victorian beer-house or gin palace, whose sole purpose was to dispense alcoholic drinks, with
no facilities for
the hospitality needs of a suburban community. To offer a bar as replacement is to miss the
point of the Morden
The history of flats over pubs and converted pubs as flats over bars is not promising. Lockup
bars used mainly
as vertical drinking places without food are very often the source of trouble and noise
nuisance. How long will
nuisance grounds, giving the developer exactly what they wanted all along, retail throughout
above? It is for this reason that any such application must be refused.
The Morden Tavern’s survival since it first opened its doors in 1933 is down to the fact that
for 77 successfulyears
it was the focus of social activity for thousands of St Helier residents, their friends and
families. Performing the
role for which it was originally intended by the LCC and their architect Sir Harry Redfern,
‘The Tav’ is a local
landmark, a rallying point, a place of relaxation, of refuge and of celebration, commiseration
St Helier’s residents have formed a strong and united Campaign group, passionate about keeping
the pub as a
RED HERRING ON THE ANTIQUES ROAD SHOW
In the programme broadcast on Sunday 3 April
2010 which many of our readers may have watched,
the ‘most wanted’ item for militaria expert Bill
Harriman was a Smith Gun. This was a private
venture designed in 1940 as a makeshift anti-tank
gun for the Home Guard. It was a small calibre
(3-inch) cannon mounted on a trailer equipped
with solid metal wheels. The idea was to tow it to
where it was needed, and then to turn it on its side,
when the wheels and carriage became an instant
turret, enabling the gun to be swivelled in any
direction. By report, it could be almost as dangerous
to the operator as to the enemy. Over 4000 were
manufactured, at least 3000 of which were issued to
the Home Guard, and several survive in museums
such as the National Army Museum in Chelsea.
Mr Harriman attributed the design to an engineer from ‘the Tri-Ang Company down in Surrey, yes,
toymakers’. Puzzled by this, as Walter Lines made no mention of such an interesting design in
his book about
Lines Bros, I investigated a little further. It turns out that the gun was designed by a
retired Army Major, William
H Smith. He was a director of the Trianco Engineering Company, based at a factory at the rear
of Imber Court
(the Metropolitan Police training centre) in East Molesey in Surrey. A recent web forum posting
by a former
no connection whatsoever with
has written to Mr Harriman to tell him so.
A branch of Trianco later moved to Sheffield, where they now make
domestic and industrial central heating boilers.
Home Guard with Smith Gun, photograph from the Internet
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 178 – JUNE 2011 – PAGE 9
PETER HOPKINS has been discovering more about
THE EAST WINDOW OF ST LAWRENCE’S CHURCH, MORDEN
In January I was invited by Ray Skinner, the Rector of Morden, to join him at St Lawrence
Church as someone
was coming to look at the east window. Ray knew that I had an interest in the stonework of the
window, as I
had found details of the fitting of a new chancel window in the accounts for 1356. The
stonework of the present
east window is of mid-14th-century style, though it has been suggested that it is a later copy,
not the original.
In the event, our visitor was interested in the glass, not the stonework. She was Clare Tilbey,
from Oxford, a
specialist in early-17th-century ecclesiastical art, a subject which she admitted to be fairly
limited, given the
iconoclasm of the mid-17th century!
Most of the glass in the east window dates from
the refacing of the church in the 1630s. The centre
panels have the Ten Commandments (Prayer Book
version, but with interesting spellings, such as
‘murther’ instead of ‘murder’), painted on yellow
glass, supported by the figures of Moses and Aaron
in the outer panels.
Scripture. That beneath Moses reads ‘The Law was
given by Moses, but grace and trueth [sic] came
by Jesus Christ’ (St John 1:17 AV), while beneath
Aaron is ‘Consider the Apostle and High Priest of
our profession Christ Jesus’ (Hebrews 3:1 AV).
The two centre panels, beneath the Commandments,
churchwarden, writes in the Introduction to his
1901 edition of The Registers of Morden, Surrey
(p.xiv), that each has ‘a figure in a highly decorated
apartment, the walls of which are represented of
stone, with a tiled floor in green and yellow, while
in a recessed window is a seat or couch. Blue pillars
with their bases and capitals of yellow support
in a brown vestment, and has his hands uplifted,
and that on the south appears to be turning away
from him, the singularity of his costume being
that he has a closed helmet in the place of a head.’
Aubrey, followed by Manning and Bray, suggest
they represent Zacharias coming to the High Priest,
but Clayton points out that there is nothing in Scripture to suggest such an incident. Other
suggestions are the
parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, or St Paul and the Philippian gaoler. Ray Skinner
would like to think
it is Luther casting out the devil! Victoria County History of Surrey IV (1912) p.236 observes
‘The head has
disappeared and been replaced by a helm, evidently taken out of a piece of heraldic glass
somewhat earlier in date’.
The east window photographs reproduced by courtesy of Rev Ray Skinner
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 178 – JUNE 2011 – PAGE 10
VCH also records that ‘The upper portion of the lights containing the Commandments was renewed
but is said to have been exactly copied from the originals. The lead-lines follow the contours
of the design.
The cherub heads and dove, symbolic of the Holy Ghost, in the upper lights were painted at the
same date, but
form no part of the original design.’
Clare thought that the whole of the Ten Commandments had been repainted in the early 19th
century, as it is in
a Roman font, rather than Black Letter.
Clayton explains that the window was
‘repaired and beautified’ in 1828
‘as a token of the affectionate esteem
of the parishioners for their Rector (Rev Dr Peers); and the present subject [of the tracery]
was designed by Mrs
Mary Chambers, the wife of Lancelot Chambers, Esq, long resident in the Parish’. Clayton
continues, ‘I am
informed she had the glass painted at Utrecht. Reparations were made of other parts, which are
Unfortunately Aaron suffered some damage during WWII bombing but, although we could see where
had been made, we couldn’t identify which was the new work!
Writing in 1809, Manning and Bray II p.489 state that the tracery then contained Abraham’s
of Isaac, and Jonah’s escape from the Whale’s belly.
In 1994 Dr Sebastian Strobl, of The Cathedral Studios at Canterbury, recommended that the
entire window be
removed, conserved, and refitted with protective glazing. However, the church architect agreed
with Ray that the
stonework was likely to crumble if the main stanchions were removed to enable the glass to be
taken out, so no
further action was taken. Ray observed that there has been little further deterioration over
the intervening years.
Dr Strobl quoted William Cole who had compared the main window with the east window of St
attributed to Bernard van Linge. A native of Emden in northern Germany, he was in England
between 1622 and
1628. As the Battersea window is dated c.1631 and Morden church was refurbished in 1636, it
that it was Bernard’s brother, Abraham, who was responsible.
Clare remarked that the wooden panels each side of the east window, containing the Lord’s
Prayer and the
Creed, were of 19th-century date because of the style of lettering. I had always assumed they
were part of the
17th-century work, but we were both wrong! The monument to Elizabeth Gardiner, daughter of
states that she gave ‘a new pulpit, desk and communion table, all of them adorned with gold
lace and crimson
velvet … [and] the Creed and Lord’s Prayer in wainscote …’. She died in 1719 and the pulpit
has the date 1720,
though Clayton says that she gave the communion table in 1710 (pp.xvi-xvii, xxxi).
St Lawrence’s church operates an ‘open church’ policy during the week, but on Saturday 9 July
it will be hosting
a special ‘Morden Village Festival’, with events and exhibitions in the church, church centre
and parish hall.
The focus will be on the ‘linear village’ between St Lawrence church and Morden Hall, along
though the other important settlement at Lower Morden has not been forgotten. On the morning of
July there will be festival services, with special thanksgiving, on the 70th anniversary of the
death Gilliat Edward
Hatfeild, for his double gift of Morden Park and Morden Hall Park to the community. From Monday
to Saturday 16 July the church will be open as usual, but with refreshments served. If you are
not familiar with
the church and its windows, July provides some ideal opportunities for a visit.
Garden Party at Morden Hall Park …
There is to be a summer garden party in the rose garden at Morden Hall Park on Saturday 23 July
with a bar, refreshments, lawn games and music. Tickets (adults) are £7, to include a
two) are available to order for £10.
… and Shakespeare at Morden Hall Park
An open air performance by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will take
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 178 – JUNE 2011 – PAGE 11
KEN GIBBONS shares some of his wartime experiences1
MEMORIES OF EXCITING TIMES: Part 1
When war broke out, Ken was attending Pelham School, aged 12. The family lived at 40 Leyton
north of Merton High Street. Father Frederick was a window-cleaner before the war, but demand
for his services
England. Mother Lilian (‘Lil’) was at home, looking after Ken, (born 1927), his younger brother
and their sister Sheila (1937). Sister Barbara arrived at the height of the Blitz in December
The six terrace houses of 40–50 Leyton Road2 were each designed to hold two families, sharing
one front door
and one outside toilet. Each family had a kitchen, a front room and two bedrooms, with small
and front. Each had one cold water tap and a gas supply. About 1936 electricity was installed
for lighting, but
‘if you had too many lights on they began to flicker, so you had to switch one off’.
The other half of no.40 was
occupied by Frederick and Rose Parrish, Ken’s uncle and aunt (Rose was Dad’s sister).
Parents had to register the names of children to be evacuated. Apparently most of the Pelham
did so as soon as lists were opened, and this first wave went off together.
Ken’s mum put down his and Peter’s
names rather late, so they were allocated to the second wave, known rather disparagingly as
other boys in the second wave. His group contained over 100 children from different schools in
Wimbledon, the oldest about fourteen, but with some as young as six or seven years old. They
on Sunday 3 September 1939: the children assembled at Haydons Road School,3 and then the
teachers in charge
sirens sound for
happened’.4 Each child carried with them a change of clothing and their pyjamas, and had a
label pinned to
their coat with their name and address on it.
None of the children knew where they were going, but their train eventually delivered them to
away – a likely target for bombs – and Chichester harbour was a probable German invasion
point.) Mum had
made some sandwiches for the journey, but ‘drinks were not very organised – most of us were
were taken to a school or hall where the children were given something to drink and then were
among the townspeople. Unfortunately, after the supply of offered homes was exhausted there
were still some
twenty-odd Merton and Wimbledon children ‘standing around looking lost’. They were almost all
sisters, whom the authorities had been reluctant to separate.
Then a lady appeared and told the group that they were very lucky, as they were going to stay
at Lord Mountbatten’s
home. This did not raise much enthusiasm, as ‘of course, none of us had ever heard of Lord
was away at sea;5 the decision to offer their home was actually taken by Lady Edwina
Mountbatten.) In due
course a couple of big Rolls-Royce cars turned up and ferried the party in batches to Adsdean
House,6 nearly a
mile outside the village of Funtington, itself some six miles west of Chichester. And there
they stayed for two
happy months, with the run of the estate and the outbuildings of this large Victorian mansion.
They were not
allowed in the big house or in the front approach, but could go anywhere else.
The boys slept in three separate rooms above the stables, four boys to a room, in double bunks.
probably staff rooms before the war. Ken believes the girls slept somewhere in the big house.
Meals were taken
in a large room off the side of the main house. ‘The smell of chicken soup always brings back
memories – we
The party included two teachers, one male and one female, and communal lessons were held for
than two hours a day, in a large hut that was also used by the staff. It was hung with
souvenirs round the walls,
including a big Red Indian headdress, which Ken remembers ‘we would sometimes put on’. Many of
lessons came via the schools radio broadcasts by the BBC, but no attempt was made to get the
older children to
help in teaching the younger ones. Ken found much of the teaching to be boring, as he had
passed the ‘Scholarship’
exam to enter Pelham School, where he had been learning advanced subjects such as algebra, and
here he was
being re-instructed in ‘simple long division and such-like’. One session he does remember was
on how to
behave towards the upper classes: the lady of the house would naturally be addressed as ‘Lady
even the Mountbatten daughters (the same ages as the Merton children, though with their own
private tutor) were
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 178 – JUNE 2011 – PAGE 12
always to be referred to as
‘Lady Patricia’ and ‘Lady
Merton and aristocratic
children mixed happily
together, while laughing at
each others’ South London
and ‘cut-glass’ accents.
Indeed after a time there
was a certain amount of
elocution instruction, as
apparently Lady Patricia
and Lady Pamela were
acquiring some Merton
habits of speech.
Ken especially recalls a dear
old lady who used to walk
in the grounds: ‘we were
told she was a countess and
not to bother her8 … it was
lovely to see her walking
with a couple of the very
young six or seven year olds
holding her hands, chatting away to her, asking her if she was a queen. The countess loved it.’
This very cheerful period lasted for two months, until the Mountbatten family moved away to
their new permanent
home at Broadlands in Hampshire.9 Ken remembers being given mementos of a polo cap and a
of the house, which had been signed by all three ladies and members of their staff. ‘Everybody
was sad when
we left Adsdean: can you imagine all the lovely people of Adsdean, and I mean everybody, waving
to us when
we left ? Tears all round.’
The Wimbledon group was now scattered. Ken and his brother were moved some three miles west to
village of Westbourne, which is now on the outskirts of Havant. They were billetted in a small
house with an
old lady (‘she was alright’), but the school was rather different. It was packed: Ken’s class
contained about 50
children, where the brothers did not know anybody, and the teaching was ‘stuff I learnt when I
was very young
in infants’ school’. Peter became rather unwell, and after several letters home to this effect,
Mum turned up in
late November and collected them both, unfortunately leaving behind the mementos.
Back in Wimbledon, Ken returned to Pelham School, but – ‘that was a joke: one class of
children, it was
hopeless’. Eventually the problem was solved by giving the pupils homework and sending them
home to do
it, to return the next day for marking and to collect new homework.
Luftwaffe found Ken in Merton
High Street, sent out to do some shopping. His main impression of the raid was of sudden loud
sirens at all, nor seeing any of the attacking aircraft. He made a quick dash home, where Mum
asked if he had
remembered the shopping!
One sad incident happened to George Swinfield, a friend of Ken’s, who was out in the open on
High Path with
Mr Swinfield pushed George to the ground and covered him with his own body, receiving a burst
machine gun fire which fatally injured him.
Some of the bullets passed through him to hit his son.
The father was
supposed to have died later that day in the Nelson Hospital, but the son was only lightly
George used to show the scars on his back to disbelieving acquaintances as proof of the
Only that morning, Ken and some friends had cycled over to look at Croydon airfield, which had
the previous day, but were baulked by Purley Way having been closed.
They often went to look at the fighter
round the airfield.
Never mind any danger
–it was exciting just to be near a Hawker Hurricane.
Adsdean House c.1940 (photo copyright Frank Cooke, via Barnado’s Archives)
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 178 – JUNE 2011 – PAGE 13
As the nightly bombing of the ‘blitz’ proceeded, Ken’s family became accustomed to sleeping in
shelter in the garden. This eight-foot by four-foot (2.4m by 1.2m) space was often crowded with
Mum, Dad, the
three children, and his aunt and uncle. Ken felt that viewing approaching bombers in daylight
was ‘bad enough,
but at least you could see real aeroplanes and con-trails’, but the night raids were much
worse, with the family
all crouched in the shelter and Ken unable to see which way the attackers were flying.
In particular, whenever
a German bomber circled round, looking for a target, its engines sounded very worrying as they
I’m coming to get you, I’m coming to get you ..’ over and over again.11
And then on the night of 25 October 1940 there was a big explosion not far away, close enough
to feel the ground
lift the entire shelter and shelterers ‘like a wave’. A very large bomb, perhaps 1000kg (2000
lbs) in weight,
had fallen in Merton High Street near the end of Leyton Road. Shortly after the bang, a
neighbour who had
no shelter of her own tapped on the Anderson door and asked ‘Lil, can we come in your
shelter?’. To which a
surprised Mrs Gibbons responded ‘How did you get in ? – The front door’s locked’ only to be
told ‘Oh, there’s
a front door lying in the middle of the road – that must be yours’. Dad was in the King’s Head
pub when the
bomb went off some 50 yards away, and his excuse for coming home late was only to bewail
‘they’ve got the
King’s Head !’
This bomb demolished several houses and damaged several others, as well as number 40. Tramlines
up, and one tram was thrown completely off the lines outside the ‘old William Morris house’,12
where it stayed
for some months windowless and abandoned. ‘Nobody ever knew what happened to the driver.’ (Ken
the ‘old house’ between the old cinema on the corner of Mill Road, and the Morris works
Les Noble, a friend of Ken who lived at no.1 Leyton Road, had a lucky escape on that occasion.
had spent the night in the deep shelter of Colliers Wood Underground station, and when he
returned home the
next morning discovered that an eight-foot (2.4m) length of tramline had crashed through the
roof and landed
on his bed.13 The house was one of those demolished.
By the standards of the time 40 Leyton Road was not badly damaged and the Gibbons family
continued to live
there. ‘It was patched up, and livable in’. Most of the ceilings had come down, and were
replaced by bare
boards, and the broken window glass was patched with a kind of tarred fabric, as used on shed
roofs. A belief
current at the time held that if you could hear a bomb whistling as it fell, it would hit
somebody else, not you.
Ken’s Auntie, living some distance away in Mitcham, was sure ever after that she had heard the
bomb whistling as it came down.
1 As told to David Haunton, who added the footnotes.
2 Local directories imply that these were built in the late 1890s.
3 Now the South Wimbledon Youth Centre at 72 Haydons Road.
4 Ken is quite correct here: Operation Pied Piper to evacuate children and some businesses from
the capital actually started on Friday 1 September.
afternoon going round his area with a loud-hailer to inform parents that evacuation was to be
the next day. The Merton and Wimbledon groups all
left on the day that war was declared, the first train leaving at 08:55, the last at 16:15.
The sirens Ken heard at the station were sounding the famous
false alarm soon after Mr Chamberlain had broadcast to the nation.
5 He was Captain in command of the destroyer HMS Kelly.
6 Adsdean House is described by Nairn and Pevsner in The Buildings of England: Sussex (1965,
Penguin) as ‘Simple gabled Tudor house of c.1850,
with a delightful south addition by Norman Shaw 1877 … a two-storey wing with big polygonal
bow window, the end gable made into a composition
with the chimney in his very best manner. Flint and stone.’
According to the splendidly prescriptive Titles and Forms of Address – A Guide to Etiquette
(14th edn. 1971, A & C Black), as the younger son of
a Marquis, the absent ‘Lord Mountbatten’ had only a courtesy title, not an inherited one, and
should have been referred to as either ‘Lord Louis
Mountbatten’ or ‘Lord Louis’; his wife should not have been ‘Lady Edwina’ but ‘Lady Louis’, and
their daughters merely ‘Miss Patricia’ and ‘Miss
Pamela’. Only when he achieved his earldom did the daughters become entitled (literally) to
8 This was presumably Victoria, Countess (more correctly Marchioness) of Milford Haven (1863–
1950), the mother of Lord Louis. She was a granddaughter
of Queen Victoria.
9 After the Mountbattens left Adsdean House, it remained empty for a while, until interestingly
Dr Barnado’s opened it as a mixed evacuation home
(for both boys and girls) on 6 June 1940. Barnado’s occupation continued until the early 1950s.
A little licence in the tale here, perhaps.
Mr John George Swinfield, aged 60, is recorded in the List of Civilian War Dead for Surrey as
that day at Brett’s Factory in High Path, along with two of his workmates, Ernest Bannister and
Henry Williams, probably as they left work for the
day. Maybe George was caught by the blast from the same bomb.
11 The engines of RAF bombers were invariably synchronized, giving a constant humming note to
the listener on the ground. The twin engines of
Luftwaffe bombers were unsynchronized (ie. left out of phase), giving a noticeable beat to
12 Ken remarks that the local kids used to think the old house was haunted, partly because of
the Nelson’s-head door knocker, but this did not stop
them playing around in it after it was abandoned.
13 This would have weighed at least two hundredweight (100kg).
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 178 – JUNE 2011 – PAGE 14
DAVID HAUNTON reports on the results of the
SOCIETY TALKS SURVEY
A hearty ‘thank you’ to all members who responded to our survey. The results were discussed in
meeting in early April. Of 141 survey forms sent out with the Bulletin, no fewer than 80, or
55%, were returned.
This good response indicates a healthy level of interest in the Society’s activities. There
were several positive
comments about the Bulletin. (Note that not everyone answered every question.)
Ten responders never attend talks–distance, football supporters, ‘anno domini’ etc. Reports of
talks are enjoyed
by 78, though not by two. The range of subjects seems right: occasional forays outside Surrey
would be tolerated, as 16% prefer talks only on Merton, 62% Surrey and London, while 22% would
with a countrywide range.
Saturday afternoon is best for most people, with no preference for a particular Saturday in the
Saturday’. Your Committee will plan more flexibility on this point.
Saturday afternoons are difficult to reserve
for only six members of the 20 who belong to other ‘Saturday’ organisations and for only four
of 37 who do
not belong to such.
Most, that is 42 (60%), always come by public transport. Some (13) always use a car and some
(13) use either.
Your Committee will re-examine halls nearer the centre of our area.
About a third of responders have difficulty hearing speakers(19 always,3 sometimes). Our public
address kit has
been repaired and was ready and working for the April talk. All we have to do now is persuade
speakers to use it!
Reasons for not attending particular talks in 2010 were varied:
Uninspiring subject: each talk scored an average of only three votes against–many qualified by
‘I already knew
a lot about this’ (offset by one ‘superb talk’ for David Luff on Liberty’s!).
Parking was a problem for three members with walking difficulties, worried where to park in
One suggested sketch-maps on the website, and the Committee think this is a good idea and may
extend it to
Weather was mentioned by 23 and 24 (say 30%) for both talks hit by snow and ice. One suggestion
is that we
cut the January meeting, but the Committee feel that scheduling the talk late in the month, and
with a Society
or very local speaker, would be better.
Illness, of self or family, prevented three or four people attending each meeting.
Public transport: the length, difficulty or unreliability of the journey deterred different
sets of five or six people
per meeting. Raynes Park is mentioned as taking too long to reach, needing two buses or trains,
or costing too
However, clash of dates is the main problem, preventing on average 22 people from coming.
Though some of
these clashes are with other ‘Saturday’ organisations, most are due to family visits or
responsibilities, often at
short notice. Holidays, theatre matinees and football were mentioned by a few. Your Committee
will liaise with
the Wimbledon Society and Wimbledon National Trust to minimise clashes.
One of the advantages of the not-too-popular Raynes Park Library Hall is its digital projection
your Committee will examine the feasibility and cost of purchasing our own.
So, we have actions to explore and food for thought. Once again, many thanks to everyone who
Wandsworth Heritage Festival …
From 28 May to 12 June an extensive programme of events of historical interest has been
the Borough of Wandsworth. Brochures available from Wandsworth Museum, libraries etc.
Additional good news is that the De Morgan Collection is scheduled to reopen, on 1 July, in the
old West Hill
Library building which it shares with the new Wandsworth Museum. The Collection consists of
William De Morgan (friend and sometimes colleague of William Morris), who had his workshops in
Wood for some years, and paintings by his wife Evelyn, in the pre-Raphaelite tradition.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 178 – JUNE 2011 – PAGE 15
A Tailpiece …
(From John Aubrey’s Natural History and Antiquities of Surrey, published in 1718-19, and quoted
in Eric Parker
Surrey Anthology (1952) Museum Press)
Some peculiar Words used by the vulgar in SURREY
Yarrow, yare, shy. Eve, modest or meek.
Spood, speed. Nott, sheere, as sheer cut off.
Druxen at Heart, rotten at Heart. Stover, in a Fret, or Rage.
To foreslowe the Time, to be remiss, to be backward, and lose an Opportunity.
Pre, a Plank laid a-cross a Channel or Gutter to go over, which, in other Countries is called a
Hatch, a Gate in the Roads; and a half Hatch is where a Horse may pass, but not a Cart.
Place, the Manour-House.
Gill, a little narrow Valley with Wood, and a little Rill running in the Bottom.
BILL RUDD’S MORDEN
WANDLE INDUSTRIAL MUSEUM
The new exhibition, which is called ‘The Wandle, Then and Now, in Photographs’, opens in mid-
Letters and contributions for the Bulletin should be sent to the Hon. Editor.
The views expressed in this Bulletin are those of the
website: www.mertonhistoricalsociety.org.uk email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Printed by Peter Hopkins
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 178 – JUNE 2011 – PAGE 16