March 2018 – Bulletin 205
A Much-Moving Mitcham Lady – Winnie McAllan
Nelson’s Patent Sideboard and Dining table – Peter Hopkins
One Thing Leads to Another: The Berkeley Teetotal Society – Rosemary Turner
George Blay, The Raynes Park Housebuilder – Norma Cox
and much more
VICE PRESIDENT: Judith Goodman
CHAIR: Keith PennyBULLETIN No. 205 MARCH 2018
Typical Blay houses in Elm Walk (see p.16, photo: David Haunton)
Programme March-September 2018 2
Chairman’s Report 2017 3
‘There’s More to Morden’ 4
‘The Coach Roads to Brighton’ 6
Local History Workshops –
27 October: West Barnes early reference; Portable Antiquities; Berkeley Teetotal Society;
Priory wall; Medieval schools; Dewey Bates; Scotland Yard series 8
1 December: Wandle fish counting; Mukkinese Battle Horn; Raynes Park properties; East Surrey
enlistments; Berkeley Teetotallers; Hoare family; Wandle sluice gate plans
MHS Letters of Objection on Heritage Matters 12
A Much-Moving Mitcham Lady 13
Nelson’s Patent Sideboard and Dining Table – Peter Hopkins
One Thing Leads to Another – Rosemary Turner
George Blay, the Raynes Park Housebuilder – Norma Cox
PROGRAMME MARCH-SEPTEMBER 2018
Saturday 10 March 2.30pm St James’ Church Hall, Merton
‘History of the Conservators of Wimbledon & Putney Commons’
An illustrated talk by Simon Lee, the Chief Executive
Saturday 14 April 2.30pm St James’ Church Hall, Merton
‘For Valour – The Story of Merton’s VCs’
An illustrated talk by Sarah Gould, LBM Heritage
NO VISIT IS PLANNED FOR MAy
Thursday 7 June 10.30am
Wandle Walk with Mick Taylor
Meet at gates to Watermeads (on A217 London Road near junction with Riverside Drive)
and walk to Honeywood Museum at Carshalton Ponds (2 miles approx.)
Wednesday 18 July 11.45am for 12.00
Tour of Ham House with Charlotte Morrison
Free for National Trust and Art Fund members, for others £9 concessions, £15 full. Pay on the day.
Please book with Bea Oliver
Wednesday 15 August 11.00am
Walk round Kingston with Charlotte Morrison
Meet outside the Church in the Market Place. £5 pp on the day.
Please book with Bea Oliver
Wednesday 19 September 11.00am
Kneller Hall (Military School of Music)
65 Kneller Road, Twickenham, TW2 7DN, near the Rugby Ground
Nearest stations Twickenham and Whitton.
£5 pp on the day. Visitors need ID for security (Freedom Pass is acceptable)
Please book with Bea Oliver
Note also Workshops at Wandle Industrial Museum, London Road
2.30pm on Fridays 2 March, 20 April, 1 June(tbc) All Members are welcome
St James’ Church
Hall is in Martin Way,
next to the church
(officially in Beaford
Buses 164 and 413
stop in Martin Way
(in both directions)
The church has a tiny
car park, but parking
in adjacent streets is
Visitors are welcome to attend our talks. Entry £2.
MAR TIN W A Y
BUSHEY RD KINGSTON RD
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 2
CHAIRMAN’S REPORT 2017
Madam Vice President, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am pleased to present to you my third report on the activities of the society and its committee. It matches the
first two in that there is an element of eviction, or at least removal. Then, it was the need to remove artefacts
to private storage; this year we found that the hall here at Christ Church would not be available to us after
December. I make no comment on this – I know the other side of hall hire and understand the preference for an
all-year, all-day booking. Fortunately, through the good offices of Alan Martyn, we have the use of the hall at
St James, Merton, in Martin Way, Morden. Details will be circulated with the Bulletin.
Our programme of talks and visits has again been varied and interesting, thanks to the efforts of Bea Oliver.
We have walked the Wandle (or at least part of it), viewed archives in London, learnt of the traditional crafts
of bookbinding and admired the comforts and splendours of the Charterhouse. Talks began with prehistory and
ended again with the Wandle and its mills. Numbers at talks have varied quite a lot. If Saturday afternoon really
isn’t the best time for 2018, please say so. The committee is going to consider how it might make better use of
email to provide reminders of dates and to give other information to members.
The weather in February was so horrible that, as a reward for attending, tea was offered free to those who came,
an experiment that has now become normal practice. You could, of course, save up the 30p’s that would have
gone on teas and buy an extra Society publication. The latest cover a wide time range: Eric Montague’s account
of excavations at Short Batsworth, Mitcham, in the 1960s has finally made it to the public gaze. Such is its detail
and accuracy that it persuaded the Museum of London to accept three skeletons found there, that had for some
years languished in a member’s loft. The other new publication, Justice to Men and Country, looks good on
our bookstands; modesty forbids that I make any comment on the quality of the work inside the covers. Allied
with this the society put an accompanying reference document as a searchable file on the website, a first time
for this form of publishing.
Online publication became possible with the new website. It is excellent: you can read articles on all sorts of
local history and browse in the photographic collections. We have Peter Hopkins to thank for the immense
labour of assembling the material and displaying it on the site, and the committee thought it right to make an
ex gratia payment to his nephew for his professional expertise in setting up the website.
We have been present at events in the borough, most recently the exhibitions arranged jointly by the John Innes
Society and by the church of St Mary, Merton. In May we had our stall at the very successful Heritage Day at
Morden Library. This was another example of the organisational skill of Sarah Gould, who attends our meetings
on her Saturdays off, even to the extent of speaking, as she will today after the formalities are over.
Tony Scott attends the Heritage Forum, and the society continues to make representations in connection with
particular planning applications. We don’t often appear on the winning side, but we did at least reach the front
page of the Wimbledon Guardian [see p.12].
Your committee has spent time on administrative matters, such as revising the constitution that you have been sent
for consideration. Some business just takes a long time, such as negotiations over copyright and the translation
we hope to have of the Latin account of Gilbert, the founder of Merton Priory. One thing we do not have to do
is organise the annual lunch, which is so ably done by Sheila Harris: the 2018 one is on Wednesday 28 February.
I want to thank our retiring treasurer, David Roe, who has exercised careful stewardship of our finances during
the last ten years or so, during which time he revised and improved our insurance arrangements. David made
his opinions on items of expenditure known, but always properly accepted the committee’s decisions. We are
very fortunate that Janet Holdsworth, a member and until now our Independent Examiner, has offered to stand
for election as the new Treasurer.
I have already mentioned Peter Hopkins: he feels that it is time for him to give up car-driving, and this will
affect the provision of a bookstall at meetings. He will continue to print and provide our books and leaflets, but
others will need to offer a car and driver if we are to continue to exhibit our publications, even if not in quite
the way to which we have become accustomed. Getting all the equipment here on a Saturday is also coming
down to a decreasing number of willing car drivers.
While I am inviting offers, we would like to upgrade some of our publicity material, to make it more colourful
and perhaps less wordy. Shops exist that can provide design advice, but if there is any member who has some
skill in this area, their help would be welcome. I have before mentioned that some dry storage space would be
useful-and anyone who makes an income by selling on Ebay could come in useful,if we have need to dispose
of stored items.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 3
So, a good year, though as ever with some challenges for the future. Looking at the Bulletin for December 2006,
I find that the treasurer had resigned and that the committee had felt bound to examine possible new venues for
meetings, because of overcrowding at the Snuff Mill at Morden Hall. The one selected for January 2007 was
the church hall at St James, Merton. So, we shall meet there on 13 January 2018 to see if history repeats itself
or just goes round in circles.
‘THERE’S MORE TO MORDEN’
On Saturday 11 November, after the AGM, Sarah Gould gave us nearly an alphabet’s-worth of memorable facts
and people of Morden. Nearly an alphabet because a certain amount of special pleading was necessary, while
Z (Zzzz) marked Sarah’s hope that we had not all gone to sleep.
Agriculturalorigins, illustrated with an early artist’s impression, perhaps moreidyllicthan exact.Theareawas still
mainly fields in the 1920s, with weather-boarded cottages and Morden Hall Farm was still a farm in the 1930s.
George Parker Bidder, of Mitcham Hall and then Ravensbury Park House, was the Junior QC in the court cases
which resulted in the establishment of the Board of Conservators of Mitcham Common.
Crown House was the site of the Crown Inn, developed into Caters supermarket in 1964, and becoming Council
offices in 1990.
Morden Hall Dairy set up the milk bottling plant in Kenley Road.
St Helier Estate was built in the 1920s and 1930s, employing Topham Forrest as architects. It proved useful to
lay its own quite extensive light railway to move materials during construction, using 0-6-0 tank engines. It was
rumoured that children playing on the Estate sometimes got lost because, though the houses varied in design,
many looked the same to junior eyes.
Famous Names lived in Morden, such as George Cole, the actor and comedian, born in Tooting but raised on
the Estate, and Amy Shuard, the 1950s soprano, born and raised on the Estate.
The Garth family (many called Richard), the lords of the manor of Morden, whose heraldic lions have been
adopted on the modern coat of arms of the London Borough of Merton.
The Hatfeild family of Morden Hall, local benefactors who owned much of Morden not owned by the Garths,
gave Morden Hall to the National Trust (and requested no commemorative statue).
Industry was well represented
with brick-making, paper mills
and several varnish factories.
There was music recording at
Oak Records, while R G Jones,
founded 1926 as one of thefirst
sound engineering firms in the
world, closed their Morden
works (right, from RG Jones
website) only in 2001 before
moving to Wimbledon.
Joseph Bazalgette the farseeing
the London sewers, lived in
Central Road, before moving
to Arthur Road in Wimbledon Park.
Keep off the Grass signs at public greens in Morden Recreation Ground (which was earlier part of Lodge Farm),
various flower gardens elsewhere, and Ravensbury Park.
Morden Lodge was occupied by Abraham Goldsmid, a rich Jewish-Dutch financier, friend of royalty (the Prince
of Wales visited in 1806), of playwrights such as Sheridan, and of course of Admiral Nelson.
Morden Park House was originally a 18th-century stately home, which after a major refurbishment in the 1990s
is now the local Register Office.
Nursing-the Catherine Gladstone Convalescent Home for women and children was established in Ravensbury
Park in the 1920s, and there was a military convalescent home at the Grange.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 4
Odeon – the first Morden cinema
opened in 1920
(right, from Merton
Memories, courtesy LBM), closing
in 1973 when it became a B&Q. The
Gaumont in Rose Hill opened soon
after the Odeon and closed in 1961. It
is now a bingo hall.
Public Houses were well established
early on – the Plough in Central Road,
the George Inn dates from
century, and the Crown in London
Road from about 1801.
Quest for knowledge – the Elizabeth
Gardiner school in Central Road was
founded in 1731, the Morden Hall
Academy c.1830. Later schools established by the local authority were simply numbered from one to ten. No.1
school in the St Helier estate was built in 1935 (and was later Willows High School for Girls).
Religion is represented by St Lawrence’s church and the Baitul Futuh Mosque.
Stane Street passed through Morden, roughly on the line of the A24, and a small part was excavated c.1920.
Tobacco was ground in the Morden Hall Snuff Mills up to 1922, and in Ravensbury Mill until 1925.
The Underground arrived in 1928, and this is usually illustrated
by the famous picture of new rolling stock
being brought to Morden Depot on a trailer pulled by an ancient steam-powered tractor.
Victoria Cross was awarded to Henry Lysons (born in Morden Lodge) serving with the Cameronians in 1879
during the Zulu Wars.
Watermeads is one of the first National Trust properties.
EXtra-terrestrials – in the period 1983-97 there were surprisingly numerous UFO sightings reported from
Morden. Though no little men.
Youth isrepresented by Morden and Carshalton children’soutings to the seaside eg. Littlehampton in the 1950s.
WIMBLEDON COMMUNITy ORCHESTRA (WCO) SPRING CONCERT
6.30 pm Sunday 25 March 2018 at St James Church Hall, Martin Way, Morden. FREE Entry
Programme: Berlioz March to The Scaffold, Grieg Piano Concerto A minor, Smetana Vltava Symphonic
Poem and a medley of themes from the musical Chicago. Plus other Musicalofferings includingcompositions by members ! Soft drinks, wines,
snacks etc available in the Interval.
WCO is an amateur Community Orchestra (going five years now) playing Classical, Modern and Film
Music. We are looking for more players to join us -especially Strings and Brass players of grades 4 -5 and
upwards. We rehearse at St James Church Hall every Saturday morning in term-time 10.30am to 12.30pm.
Contact: Rodney Kay-Kreizman (Publicity and 1st Violin) at firstname.lastname@example.org’MERTON PRIORy AND ITS HISTORIC SETTING’
Atalk by Roy Stephenson, Museum of London’s Historic Environment Lead, to Kingston Upon Thames
Archaeological Society on Thursday 8 March 2018, 7.30pm for 8pm, at Surbiton Library Hall, Ewell
Road, Surbiton KT6 6AG, near the junction with Berrylands Road. Visitors will be asked for a donation
of £3 towards expenses.
‘DEEDS NOT WORDS’
Discussion about the impact of women’s suffrage on life in the UK – Saturday 3 March 2.30-4.30pm
Guest speakers include: Dr Stella Moss, Kathy Atherton and Philippa Bilton; chair: Gwyn RedgersMerton Arts Space, Wimbledon Library, 35
Wimbledon Hill Road, London SW19 7NB.
Admission FREE. For bookings visit: www.Eventbrite.co.uk or Tel. 020 8545 3239
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 5
‘THE COACH ROADS TO BRIGHTON’
On Saturday 9 December more than 30 members and guests braved the cold to hear a delightful talk by Geoff
Hewlett. As a geographer, Geoff was interested in how the road from London to Brighton used by commercial
stagecoaches became established, why it went where it did, and how it coped with the underlying geology. He
that there were several roads, starting at various points in the City, but all branching out from
Kennington once they had crossed the Thames. There were three main roads: the eastern and earliest, passing
through Croydon, the central one, later the ‘classic’one, passing through Sutton and Reigate, and the western,
passing through Merton and Ewell. Further south, each road forked into two or more, which later met or split
again, until there were five roads into Brighton below the South Downs. Not all branches were used at the
same time; Geoff has walked the length of each, bar ‘some under the M23 and some in Gatwick Airport’. The
geology varies between sands (dusty in summer, unstable in winter), Wealden clay (damp, and sticky in winter),
and chalk on the downs (good surface, as water drains through it). The Merton route crosses all three – sands
in Tooting, clay in Morden, chalk near Epsom Downs.
Whichever route was taken, early passengers would have to endure the best part of a day to reach Brighton,
with ruts in the road giving a jolting ride and the risk of overturning. They could ride inside the coach, or on
top, or in a basket hung at the rear. Initially the journey would comprise long stages with long stops for rest
and refreshment. The roads were poorly maintained, parish by parish; though several were designated ‘Winter
Road’, none was named ‘Summer Road’. Going up particularly steep hills the passengers would get out and
walk up; usually in class groups, allowing a young lady and gentleman the possibility of a quiet talk without
being overheard. Going down the same hills a shoe was placed under one of the rear wheels as a drag. As some
passengers were well-off, guards were issued with pistol and cutlass to defend against highwaymen (Jerry
Abershaw being our local example). The countryside was open and wild, as still evidenced by local place-names
such as Streatham Common, Norwood, and Thornton Heath.
Turnpike trusts began in 1755, named for the pike (or bar) across a maintained road, which would be turned aside
for cash. The pikes were soon replaced by gates. The best turnpike roads were in the north of England, surfaced
with good stone; those in the south were less good until John McAdam, visiting Sussex in 1817, demonstrated
the use of rammed layers of little stones as a road surface. This improvement came at the same time as better
coaches, fitted with elliptical springs (invented in 1804 by Obadiah Elliot), giving a lower centre of gravity and
lighter weight. Thus the coach could be drawn by four horses rather than six, at a faster speed, allowing more
stages with shorter stops and a more comfortable ride.
All the coaches from London to Brighton passed through Kennington gate, the common place of execution for
Surrey, with that sight and smell competing with hop warehouses and butchers’shops. There were three gates
in Merton -Singlegate at Colliers Wood; and Doublegates at the west end of Merton High Street, leading south
through Morden or west towards Kingston.
Coach services, often named (eg. The Age and The Comet), usually started and finished at pubs, giving rise to
the coaching inn, many of which themselves became famous. Examples include the George at the Elephant
and Castle (still there and the only remaining galleried pub in London), the George in Crawley (popular as the
Prince Regent used it when attending prize-fights on Crawley Downs), the Kings Head in Cuckfield (which
moved across the road because of a ghost story), the Jolly Tanners at Staplefield (famous for its rabbit pie), the
Spread Eagle at Epsom (the building is preserved, but is no longer a pub), the Wheatsheafe in Dorking (which
had a cock-pit in a cellar, and reared giant hogs) and the Old Cock of Sutton (run for a time by ‘Gentleman
Jackson’, the bare-knuckle pugilist).
Coachmen were mostly working-class professionals, though several aristocrats were brilliant drivers, such as
Harry Stephenson, a Cambridge graduate with his own coach, and Sir Vincent Cotton, a notorious gambler
alleged to have once lost £30,000 on a maggot race. Before c.1800 coachmen tended to be fat and boozy (they
were unprotected from the weather, and needed multiple capes and frequent refreshment), but after c.1830 they
learnt to be well spoken and polite in anticipation of a bigger tip. Young bloods often took lessons from the
professionals, enabling them to visit Gentleman Jackson and boast of going a round or two with him.
There were of course accidents from various causes; rivalry between the Phoenix and the Dart caused a serious
collision at Preston toll gate, the two coaches attempting to pass through a toll gate where there was only room
for one. In Ewell in 1826, when a coachman had descended from his full coach, a boy accidentally gave the
horses their start signal, they started with no-one in control and the driverless coach overturned onto spiked
railings, injuring several people and killing others. By contrast, in Brixton in 1810 the wheels collapsed under
an overloaded coach, and the outside passengers fell off – into a passing load of hay, with little injury.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 6
Why did people go to Brighton? Mainly for health and recreation, taking the sea cure, supervised by bathing
ladies with their curtained carts, but also for bull baiting and cock fighting, and of course to view the staggering
Royal Pavilion. Most coaches arrived in Castle Square, at a blue-painted house (a red-painted one was the ticket
office). There were comfortable hotels such as the Ship (then on the sea front though the sea has moved away
a bit) and social assembly rooms patronised by the likes of Sam Johnson and Charles Dickens.
The end of the coach routes to Brighton was brought about by the digging of the Clayton Tunnel, which opened
in 1841 and allowed railways access to the town, much faster, more comfortable and cheaper than the coach.
Before 1842 there were as many as 36 coaches arriving per day, but after that date only two. Coaches were
still in use on the side roads, but many owners sold off their stock, coach horses commanding a ready sale to
farmers as they were well trained.
Geoff kindly answered a flurry of questions: the record time (in competition) for a fully loaded coach was 3 hrs
40 min London Bridge to Brighton; mail was usually carried separately, but was sometimes carried on normal
passenger coaches; coaches almost all ran by day, though some slow long range ones up north did run at night;
toll gates were all lighted by law; charges at Singlegate included droves of animals and loads of hay.
Geoff and his wife Elizabeth brought quite a number of copies of his excellent book, The Coach Roads to
Brighton (Pen Press, 2014, £15), and I am happy to report that they sold out.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 7
LOCAL HISTORy WORKSHOPS
Friday 27 October 2017 – Seven present – Dave Haunton in the chair
. Peter Hopkins had spotted a reference to West Barnes, in the Surrey Record Society volume on the 1332
taxation, that predates by two centuries all previously known references. Adocument from 1292 explains
that a local tax official for the Hundred of Brixton had made excessive demands which were noticed by his
associates before any payments were made. However, he had used his position to receive 1000 herrings
from a fish merchant and four bushels of wheat and four of oats from brother William de la Westberne of
Merton, as well as 15 shillings from the Marshal of the Prince of Wales which should have gone towards
paying for the prince’s lodgings. The offender was sentenced to imprisonment but paid a fine. OneLatin
phrase proved difficult – ut micius ageret:
three websites translated this as gently doing. Presumably not
the medieval equivalent of ‘greasing his palm’as this was a lay subsidy, so brother William would not have
been liable for tax. Did it mean ‘easing his way’referring to providing refreshment though Peter thought
that 1000 herrings seemed very greedy.
Mention in the Greater London Historic Environment Record of ‘Medieval waterside structures’of timber
published report, as the
documentary reference to the mill here was late 17th century. The report said the timbers were of larch,
rarely used in London prior to the 1500s, so the description ‘medieval’israther misleading. Brickwork found
nearby appears to be mid- to late-18th century, which fits the documentary evidence.
Another misleading report was in London Archaeologist Autumn 2012, which compared Bronze Age finds
west of Grand Drive -at GreenviewDrive, off Fairway, and at the former Meadbrook site, now Meadowsweet
Close-to evidence of Middle Bronze Age farming activity’to the west’at the former Kings College Sports
Ground, which, from another report in our archives, was in fact in Western Road, Mitcham.
Peter also checked the Portable Antiquities Scheme website.and found a few interesting local items:
• a Mesolithic adze found in a garden somewhere in Figges Marsh Ward, sometime in 2014.
a hollow copper-alloy shell dating from c.1650 found in Cricket Green Ward in 2008.
is TQ2768 -the Ravensbury area. The PAS site refers to the Oxford University Celtic Coin Index, but
that website is a ‘work in progress’ and he couldn’t find the coin on it.
Peter had found further information online about ‘Nelson’s patent sideboard and dining table'(see Bulletin
202 p.8) for which he will write an article (see p.13).
. Madeline Healey had been taken to Great Fosters near Windsor to have afternoon tea for her birthday. She
had noted in a leaflet about the venue that it was a Tudor tithe barn which was dismantled from its original
site in Ewell Manor, Malden, taken down in 1930 at a cost of £4,000. No one at the workshop knew anything
about Ewell Manor.
. Rosemary Turner referred back to the Mitcham Workhouse and Eric’s mention of a clock overlooking
the common. She had noticed that in one of the photographs in Old Mitcham, one of the factory buildings
referred to as the Woodite Works did have a clock that overlooked the common. The building was next to
the former workhouse and is shown on the 1910 plan as part of the Tower Works.
Berkeley Teetotal Society – Peter had produced a set of maps for Rosemary, each covering one of the 20
Society districts. She had got side-tracked doing an article
on some of the people in the photograph of the
first 100 members (see Bulletin 204 p.14). She has been using the census to locate some of the people and
has signed up to Find My Past to make it easier. She had noticed that in the 1891 census there is a crop of
teachers and pupil teachers amongst the children of the 100 living in the Allen’s House and Cottages in the
Eastfields area. She wondered if they taught at the Holborn school. Keith suggested that it may have been
St Marks School. Rosemary has now produced a table of the 100 so that she can add ages as at the 1891
census, occupation, addresses and whether they stayed members.
Revisiting her husband Steve’s papers she came across a plan of the Brompton Nurseries, reportedly the
first purpose built garden nursery. The site is now occupiedby the V&A. The nursery was owned by George
London and Henry Wise. George was gardener to William & Mary and the Bishop of Fulham. He produced
parterres for stately homes allover the country including Chatsworth and Hampton Court but he very rarely
gets a mention. One of Steve’s aunts found a mention of him in John Evelyn’s diaries regarding the Prince
of Prussia damaging the Bishop of Fulham’s garden, which had been designed by George London. As she
and Steve’s mother shared the surname, and both families originated in Norfolk, she hoped that they were
related. George’s name appears in books on gardens, but it is very difficult to find any mention of him when
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 8
you go to the houses, much of his work being destroyed by Capability Brown. The flower London Pride was
supposedly named after him.
. David Luff updated us on the Priory Wall. The National Trust had held a meeting about the wall but he had
not been included so he does not know what resulted, but we now know that the National Trust owns a three
foot wide strip of land along the wall on the Sainsbury’s side, ie. it owns both sides of the wall. David had
been in discussion with Cyril Maidment and John Hawkes about clearing away the soil built up on the service
road. A support for the wall would have to be replaced because the ground is higher on the other side.
The Nurdin & Peacock Building demolition started on the day of the workshop. The tower is being removed
but being retained in another position on the site. David said that there have been local concerns about the
former Brown and Roots building since its renovation.
. Judith Goodman has received an enquiry about George Blay, a local developer in the 1930s, and she was
looking for information. [Norma Cox has since written an article about George (see p.16).]
. Keith Penny had heard Dave Saxby mention a ‘school’
at Merton Priory during his talk to the Society
in October. He suggested that we too easily read into the word lots of modern-day understandings, and
that some written histories of the priory, even that published by MHS, used a lot of inference from other
monastic institutions to fill out the narrative, when the written and archaeological evidence was not strong.
Houses of canons were not identical to houses of Benedictine monks. The substantial study published by
the Museum of London, The Augustinian Priory of St Mary, Merton, Surrey, was properly cautious about
any school within the priory, but A Priory Revealed (MHS) implied that Merton had a song-school and a
school run by the Almoner for outsider pupils, on the basis of an assumption that ‘every monastery ran a
song-school’. Much had been made of Thomas Becket’s attendance at Merton, but a biographer wrote that
‘he was successively, but intermittently, a boarder at the Augustinian priory at Merton in Surrey, a pupil
at one or more of the London grammar schools and a student at Paris.’This did not suggest a life-forming
course of study at Merton. A’school’in medieval educationwas just as likely to be a place where a learned
scholar taught a few promising young men, and Walter de Merton founded just such an institution in Oxford.
Keith also pointed out that the priory lasted for over four hundred years, and it changed during that period;
what was true of 1130 might not be so in 1530.
. Dave Haunton had been contacted by Joanna Banham, an expert in
Victorian interior design, about the artist Dewey Bates. Joanna and
Dave swapped notes on Dewey, and she asked if we had a picture of
‘Ackworth’, the photographer’s house in Streatham High Road where
Dewey lodged c.1880. Two taken c.1914 (one shown right) were
kindly supplied by John W Brown (MHS and Streatham Society), with
some further details: built in 1851, the house had five bedrooms, two
staircases (one for the servants) and a large front garden. Jo’s interest
was centred on The Portrait, a painting by Dewey of an artist’s studio
(below), as shown by various details (paint-brushes, palettes, finished
works) and items showing his expertise (Japanese screen, fringed
tiger-skin rug, shiny taffeta dress). Jo now believes this was actually
painted within ‘Ackworth’. She has tentatively
identified the principal figure as Florence St
John, a singer and actress, who was previously
painted by Dewey, and whose photograph for
a carte de visite was almost certainly taken by
Leonard Blake, the photographer who lived at
Dave had noticed the Scotland Yard series
running on Channel 81 (Talking Pictures TV).
The series was filmed at Merton Park Studios,
very limited budget. We
the wooden acting, and sparsely-furnished
interiors. Exterior shots were more interesting,
with general scene-setting showing 1960s traffic, or one of the Studios’two ‘police’cars arriving in large
back yards, and occasional brief scenes using identifiable Merton streets.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 9
1 December 2017 – Seven present – Rosemary Turner in the chair
. David Luff had observed a fish-
counting exercise in the Wandle. Two
fine nets were spread across the river,
some 40 yards apart, and a line of
nets-persons moved slowly between
them (right), scooping up all the fish,
which had been lightly stunned by a
low electrical charge. Each fish was
identified and later returned to the
water. David was surprised at the
size of some of them – several carp
measured 18-20 inches long, so the
river is recovering well
from past episodes of
‘Sindy trumps Barbie!’
cheered David as he showed us the set of stamps issued by Royal
Mail on the theme of Classic Toys, featuring a Sindy doll (left) in the striped jersey shown
on the cover of our Bulletin 199.
. Dave Haunton nostalgically
viewed again, on Talking Pictures
(Ch.81), The Case of the
Mukkinese Battle Horn, a film
with Peter Sellers and Spike
Milligan. Produced at Merton
Park Studios, this is a spoof on
the Studios’ Scotland Yard series,
and uses much of that series pre-
credit sequence. The only outside
view, of a tree-lined street (below)
containing a small office or flats
or school block with a modest
entrance (right), could not be
identified. Can you help?
. Keith Penny had seen a plan of plots of land on the Raynes Park estate while looking at a file in Surrey
History Centre concerning what is now Holy Cross church, Motspur Park. The Diocese of Southwark
purchased four plots for the erection of a mission room in 1908. Inspection of title deeds of a property in
Adela Avenue showed how the vendor, William Furmage Palmer, placed conditions on the houses to be
built on the estate: no house was to be erected on any of the plots 301 to 322 of less value than £350 or on
any other plot of less value than £250; not more than one house might be erected on a single plot without
permission; no hotel, tavern, tea garden or manufactory would be allowed, and no wines, beers or spirituous
or fermented liquors could be sold in or upon any of the plots or in any building. The vendor had a right to
break fences and forcibly enter any land to remove or dispose of any hut or building used as a temporary
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 10
Keith had mentioned at an earlier Workshop the registers of enlistment in the East Surrey regiment held by the
Surrey History Centre. He had looked atthefirstin theseries:names, occupations and physicaldistinguishing
marks were recorded, but not addresses until late 1914. Of the roughly 2,200 Surrey men enlisted between
1 September and 30 November 1914, 91 enlisted at Merton (which then included Morden) and only 63 at
Mitcham, although the population of Mitcham was over twice that of the other two areas put together.
. Rosemary Turner said that while she was researching people on the photograph of the first 100 members of
the Berkeley Society, she was surprised to find how frequently they appeared in other Society publications,
such as the Mitcham Histories and Justice to Men and Country.
For example, John M Leather, who was a nurseryman and florist at the time of the photograph, was later
a nurseryman and pig keeper, while he was also an Overseer of the Poor and sitting on the Board of the
Military Tribunal. Similarly, John Marsh Pitt, son of George and Priscilla, appears in the book along with
his sons, who were exempted because they were Quakers. Later John Marsh appealed on his own behalf as
the age of conscription was raised and he was then eligible for enlistment. Keith remarked that Mr Pitt had
a lot to say all through the Tribunals. (For more, see p.14)
. Peter Hopkins reported that the latest Surrey Archaeological Collections (100, 2017) has a report on the
wall paintings discovered at 120 Kingston Road, and an article on medieval potters in Surrey which cites
the Morden manorial court rolls on our website, with their references to three named Cheam potters.
Peter had been in correspondence with a researcher at Hoare’s Bank about George Matthew Hoare’s residence
at The Lodge, Central Road/Farm Road, Morden, in the early 1800s. In a 2013 publication she had confused
thiswith Morden Lodge, the property adjoining Morden Hall. She had sent Peter an extract from a manuscript
memoir by Mary Ann Prince, step-daughter of another member of the Hoare family, Henry Charles, written
in 1861 but describing a short residence at The Lodge in 1824. She recalled ‘the George Hoares kindly lent
Morden to Papa for the time York Place [their London home] could not be occupied’while it was ‘done up,
painted &c’. She was not enamoured with the house: ‘Morden was an ugly place. I remember the greenhouse
which opened into the drawing room. There were some grapes, & I always used to wonder why Mamma
said they were not ours but the G Hoare’s … I remember it was a trouble to get from London to Morden,
the coach not passing near. I can remember dear Papa bringing me down.’The London coach would have
stopped at the George inn (now a Harvester), next to the parish church, but presumably this was too far from
the house for a young lady returning from her boarding school for her grandfather’s funeral.
Peter had identified the entry for the George
in the 1664 Hearth Tax register, having
‘Widdow Downes’, from previous research
(see Bulletin 196). The inn had only three
. Judith Goodman brought
of plans of sluice
gates on the
numbered southward, from Connolly’s
(one shown here right). Evidently used by
some water management authority, they are
not to scale and undated and Judy cannot
remember who gave them to her. Dave
Haunton undertook to enquire at the Wandle
Industrial Museum. [David Luff later
suggested that the plansare from a survey in
the late 1930s for a flood-prevention scheme
Dates of next Workshops: Fridays 2 March, 20 April
2.30pm at Wandle Industrial Museum. All are welcome.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 11
MHS LETTERS OF OBJECTION ON HERITAGE MATTERS
Though the Society is not normally a campaigning one, some recent planning applications have persuaded the
Chair and Committee to write formal letters of objection to proposals, which are summarised below.
Rose Cottage (101 Hamilton Road, South Wimbledon, London SW19 1JG) [since demolished]
I write on behalf of Merton Historical Society to object to the attempt to demolish and replace Rose Cottage,
a local heritage asset that could be restored and used. Its date and designer are known, and the building
appears to have been the earliest built on land formerly part of Admiral Lord Nelson’s Merton Place
estate. Although not in original condition, it is still a demonstration of domestic architecture of its period.
According to the developer’s summary, Historic England seems to think that, as long as there are some
other survivors nationally from a period, it doesn’t matter if Merton loses one. At least we can read their
reasons, whereas the summary of the Borough Council’s decision on local listing only repeats that ‘it did
not fulfil the criteria’, though the Council’s listing policy says that ‘buildings older than 1850 (which are
relatively uncommon in Merton) may be acceptable for the Local List, with less justification in terms of
the other criteria. Historical associations (in terms of famous people or events) may also be relevant.’The
present developers are able to proceed with confidence in part because that local listing did not happen.
In the not dissimilar instance of 34-40 Morden Road it took an Inspector to deem them a ‘non-designated
heritage asset’, after the Council had declined to list those properties.
Demolishing Rose Cottage does not make a ‘positive contribution to the borough’s historic environment’
(Merton Heritage Strategy 2015-2020). The ‘substantial public benefits’that need to be demonstrated if
a heritage asset is to be demolished might be arguable if demolition were the only way to create housing,
but it is not the only way, as the [previous] proposals showed. Rose Cottage can be lived in. That it has
fallen into disrepair is not a good reason for demolition, merely a poor excuse.
The Society has previously been told that the future concept of ‘heritage’in Merton will be one based on
tourism. What tourism is there going to be if the Council allows rare buildings to disappear, in this case
the only physical connection with the estate of Lord Nelson and, later, of Emma Hamilton?
Cottages at 34-40 Morden Road [Union Terrace]
I should like to object to the latest attempt to have these cottages demolished. Previous applications have
rightly been rejected because of the historic significance of these 1820scottages, easily seen partsof what
was once the Merton Place estate of Lord Nelson. Yes, they are not in good condition, but that is never
a good reason for proceeding
to demolition. There is no evidence that local residents want the cottages
replaced by an aparthotel. It should be possible to refurbish the cottages and leave them as examples of
an earlier age of domestic architecture, and such properties, in decent condition, might be expected to
fetch a good price. It is particularly important not to allow these cottages to go in the same way as Rose
Cottage has been allowed to go, and developers should be told that simple repetition of an application
doesn’t make it any better.
The proposed extension – despite the façade now being kept intact – would diminish its heritage and
aesthetic value, leaving it and John Innes’s Merton Park legacy vulnerable to unsuitable development and
loss ofcharacterinthefuture.AlthoughslightlyoutsidetheSociety’s normalremit,itis alsoworthsaying
that John Innes had local people in mind, whereas the proposed use by a Pentecostal church probably
has no roots in the community, such churches being occupied by eclectic congregations gathered from
a wide area.
(This letter was quoted on the front page of the Wimbledon Guardian.)
Abbey Mills (The Pavilions, Watermill Way, Colliers Wood SW19 2RD)
I note with some satisfaction that the reduction in height will allow a more pleasing gradation of roof
heights on the site, but it is hard to see what else has changed. I see no reason to withdraw other comments
I made in response to the first application. We accept that the buildings proposed for demolition are not
of historic or architectural merit and that the owners may well wish to develop the site for an improved
income. However, theproposeddevelopmentshows no sympathy with thecomplexof low-risebuildings
from the time of Liberty’s occupation of the site. It towers over people and cannot add to the welcoming
street-level ambience of Abbey Mills. The ‘Landscaping and Public Space’
sketch in the Design and
Access Statement looks away from the new South frontage; at the outdoor tables you would be almost
in a chasm, with the (still) high walls of the new building to look at above ground floor level.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 12
A MUCH-MOVING MITCHAM LADy
Winifred ‘Winnie’McAllan (née Braden), mother of our Wisconsin member DeAnn McAllan, celebrated her
100th birthday last year in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, with a large party (including children, grand-children,
various partners, and even a couple of great-grand-daughters), the traditional birthday card and photo from
Queen Elizabeth II, and Bagpiper Christopher Brand of the Madison Pipes and Drums, who played ‘Scottish,
Welsh and British melodies’. ‘I’m a little bit overwhelmed today’ said Winnie.
Winnie was born at 33 Miller Road, Colliers Wood, on 12 December 1917, and sailed to America on the SS
United States in 1953 with her husband George and their three children George Jr, DeAnn and Helen. At first
they settled in Battle Creek, Michigan, to be with George’s brothers. George McAllan had served more than
20 years with the Royal Navy, and in the USAhe worked for a railroad company. Winnie worked at several
different jobs as well as being a homemaker. The family moved to Delton, Michigan, in 1966 and then to Florida
in the early 1980s, where George died at age 73. Winnie then moved to California with her daughter DeAnn,
and from there they both moved to the Madison area about a decade ago. DeAnn is a retired nurse and her main
hobby is genealogical research.
Left: The Braden family, Colliers Wood, c.1930
Right: DeAnn and Winnie a few years ago in San Francisco
(note the Bridge)
Peter Hopkins has discovered more about
NELSON’S PATENT SIDEBOARD AND DINING TABLE
At a Workshop reported in Bulletin 202 (June 2017 p.8) I mentioned adverts in The Times 1800-1824 relating
to Merton Place and its estate, including one for ‘Nelson’s new Patent SIDEBOARD and DINING-TABLE’. I
googled this and found various references. AGerman publication from 1806 explained ‘They can be taken apart
and reassembled in a few minutes, and afford the rare comfort of being able to enlarge them for two or more
persons, up to one hundred, while they form a
whole in every form’ and said that Nelson ordered
it for the Victory but it wasn’t completed before
his death.1 However, an entry in Ackermann’s
Repository of Arts for August 1809 says it was
ordered for Merton Place just before his death,
and its April 1810 edition included this illustration
modern website says it ‘is now in the
Nelson Museum, Portsmouth’ and describes it
as a ‘sideboard complete with its table of seven
leaves and ten legs … so designed that the table
when closed could be pushed into the heart of
the sideboard and the loose leaves stored in a
compartment above, masked by a falling front
simulating a drawer’.2
Johann Christian Hüttner Englische Miscellen 22 (1806) p.8
2 http://www.periodfurniture-carved.co.uk/history/part9/history-232.html , accessed 21 September 2107
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 13
ROSEMARy TURNER explains how
ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER
I started by writing a little piece about members on the photograph of the first
100 members of the Berkeley Teetotal Society, but, as with my project on the
Lodge Farm, Morden, I am getting side-tracked again. I find it so easy to go
off at a tangent. I realised that looking into the Berkeley Society I would come
across things in Eric Montague’s Mitcham Histories but I am finding things
in other publications too.
Member 85 Charles Sayers is a name that appears in Keith Penny’s Justice to
Men and Country. He attended the Tribunal to appeal on behalf of workers.
Keith had had an enquiry from a relative of Charles Sayers asking about the
location of a property where he had been living in 1916. It was the Rowan,
Ravensbury Park, Mitcham, which Keith had found was renumbered 47
Wandle Road. On the census Charles Sayers was listed as a Carpenter, Joiner
or Master Builder and he is doing work for the council in 1917. The Mitcham
Histories just refer to his building firm Charles Sayers & Son Ltd., working
on various Mitcham properties
and buying Manor House. Their plans
the house did not come to fruition and it had a varied life, which ended after
partial destruction by a fire in 1962. The site was developedand is now Justin
Plaza. Charles lived at various addresses in Mitcham, including several in Wandle Road. His wife came from
Monmouthshire; he said that he was born in Surrey, but an earlier census says ‘Clapham, Sry’. In 1881 he had
been living in Tooting Graveney as a lodger with another joiner.
Out of interest I looked at an earlier census and found him with his parents
Thomas (a wheelwright) and Louisa Sayers living in Mitcham. Both say that
they were born in Mitcham and they give the birth place of all their children
as Mitcham, including Charles. I could not find Thomas and Louisa in 1881,
but I found their son Herbert as a scholar in Surrey at Rev. C H Spurgeon’s
Orphanage in Clapham Road. When I checked the deaths register indexes,
Louisa Sayer, aged 44, (the ‘s’comes and goes) died in the June quarter of
1877 (this covers April, May and June). Thomas Hind Sayer, aged 46, died
in the September quarter of 1877 (Jul, August and September). I wondered
if there was an epidemic at that time. Thomas Hind Sayer was living with
his parents, Thomas and Elizabeth, in the Causeway, Mitcham, on the 1841
census. I could not find the family in 1851, but Thomas Hind’s wife Louisa
Nightingale was living at the Copper Mills, St Mary Merton, as a visitor.
It says that she was born in Mitcham, but Thomas Hind Sayers and Louisa
Nightingale were married in Stepney registration district in the June quarter
of 1855. The entries in the census do depend on who gave the information
and how good their memory was or how bothered they were about the
information being correct.
I goteven further side-tracked byanother member. SydneyJackson was member
46 on the photograph. On the 1891 census he was 38 (so born 1855), a clerk
in holy orders living at Prospect House, Mitcham. Place of birth is given as
Surrey but on other censuses it says Battersea, Surrey, (Surrey extending up
to the Thames at that time). With him were his wife Helen, who was born in
Islington, and his two sons, Philip TE aged 3, and Arthur G aged 1. Also in the
housewas ElizaJ Philips,widow,his mother-in-law, who was born inHolborn.
He married Helen Philips the September quarter of 1886 in Wandsworth
Registration district. Thelastmember ofthehousehold was RobertEMarquis,
widower 31, a gardener born in Cape of Good Hope Africa (though I could not
find any more about him). I did wonder if Sydney had become a missionary
and brought Robert back with him but found that not to be the case. I tried to
find out which church he was attached to; he did not turn up in Crockford’s, so
I thought perhaps that he was a Catholic or Non-Conformist minister.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 14
In Mitcham Histories 11 The Cranmers, The
Canons and Park Place, Prospect House is
described as No.9 Commonside East, an
18th century Grade II listed building, which
had suffered several bouts of vandalism
but is still there today (right, photo Dr R
A M Scott). Earlier residents in the house
included Thomas Pratt in the mid-1840s,one
of the founding fathers of the Zion Chapel
in Western Road, an Independent Calvinist
Chapel. Then in the1860s and 1870s Edward
Cresswell, a local Methodist preacher, lived
there. There may have been an Independent
Dissenting Meeting House at the back of
Peter Hopkins suggested that I googled Sydney Jackson and he came up via the Carved in Stone website. This
lists the deaths of two of his sons and records that for years he was the Chaplain at the Holborn Union Workhouse.
His eldest son, Arthur Gordon, survived the Battle of the Somme but was then killed in the Mesopotamian
Campaign on 25 February 1917. He
was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Conduct Medal. Sydney’s
younger son, Henry Stewart Jackson, died on the first day of the Somme 1 July 1916, aged 20. Both of them
have memorials in St Mark’s. Arthur also has a memorial in Iraq but Henry’s body was never found. In the 1901
Census Sydney and Helen are still at Prospect House and Sydney gives his occupation as a Clergyman in the
Church of England. The mother-in-law is still living there. Their son Arthur Gordon was a student at Christs
Hospital School, Hertfordshire. I could not find out what happened to their son Philip. In 1911 they have moved
to White Heather, Graham Road, and had now acquired a servant, while Sydney says he is a Clergyman in the
estd (established) church. Arthur is back home and is now an insurance clerk, and they now have another son,
to look at earlier censuses to see if I could find where Sydney studied. In 1881 I found him at Blythe
Place, St Bees, Whitehaven, Cumberland. Sidney Jackson is a Lodger, single, aged 27, student in Theology, born
Battersea. So definitely the correct one. He was living with Richard Ferguson, a retired farmer, and Elizabeth
his wife both born in Cumberland. (Sydney’s eldest brother was born in Cockermouth, Cumberland.)
In the same house, also as a lodger, was Sydney’s younger brother Louis W
Jackson, single, aged 25, student
of Theology, born in Woolwich, which was correct. The family certainly moved around. On the 1861 census
their father William was a sculptor and mason in St Mary Lambeth, employing one man and a boy. Both sons
were living with their parents at the time. Sydney was still
with the family in 1871 but Louis Whad been sent
to Surrey County School in Cranleigh.
On Google I found St Bees Independent School had been founded by Edmund Grindal, the Archbishop of
Canterbury, in 1583, during the reign of Elizabeth I. Then on Wikipedia I found St Bees Benedictine Priory
founded by the Norman Lord of Egremont, William Meschin, and dedicated to Archbishop Thurston of York
between 1120 -1135. It has been the parish church since the dissolution in 1539. Wikipedia says ‘from sculptural
and charter evidence the site was a principal centre of religious influence in the west of the county, and an
extensive parish grew up with detached portions covering much of the western lakes’. The buildings are Grade
I listed. Finally I saw a link to the Theological College:
‘In 1816 George Henry Law, Bishop of Chester, in whose diocese the priory then was, founded the St Bees
Theological College. The monastic chapel which had been roofless since the dissolution was re-roofed to become
the main college lecture room and library. The students were lodged in the village and the Principal was also the
vicar of St Bees. The college was very successful, training over 2,600 clergy, but closed in 1895 due to falling
numbers, with students going to larger establishments.’
The career of Louis has been much easier to trace, although he is not in Crockford’s either. In the next (1891)
census Louis William is in Knaresborough, Yorkshire, as the Curate of St Marys, Harrogate, while in 1901 he
is in Egham as a clergyman of the church of England. Then in 1911 he is living at the Rectory of Middleton
Saxmundham, Suffolk, as a Clergyman in the established church. In the 1939 Register he is at the Municipal
Borough of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The record is closed but the index reveals that Louis WJackson,
Clerk in holy orders, born 5 mar 1856, has retired. He has a married female doing unpaid domestic duties.
I have not been able to find when or where Sydney died: there are too many Sydney Jacksons.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 15
NORMA COX has become interested in
GEORGE BLAy, THE RAyNES PARK HOUSEBUILDER
I first learnt of George Blay in March 2017
when I was researching a chemist’s shop at
151 Cannon Hill Lane where I once worked.
Mr George Blay was the builder of the houses
in this road during the 1920s and 1930s.1
HilI Lane for those years, I was able to trace
the progress of the building work along this
road.2 There was a great need for housing
after WW1 and Prime Minister Lloyd George
had proposed ‘Britain to be a fit country for
Heroes, with house building the principal
thrust’.3 Mr Blay worked with the council to
build well-proportioned terraced houses on the
Cannon Hill Estate land, which he owned. The
work wassupported by government subsidies.
Some of the houses were for sale and some
were let. The council had to supervise his
to build, for
sale, houses at a cost of £675 per house, an
with the Ministry of Health.3
The government subsidy varied each year
and depended on the size of the houses. It
was stated that Mr Blay was born in Devon.4
Mr Blay’s houses are still very popular today. A friend of mine has recently moved into a Blay house at Orchard
Close, Raynes Park (right). She had lived in a Blay house in Parkway thirty years ago and was so delighted
with that house that when she moved again, she held out until she could own a Blay house. I decided to find
out more about Mr George Blay.
The Raynes Park and West Barnes residents website stated that ‘George Blay was the man most responsible
for changing the rural landscape of Raynes Park’and also that ‘he was born in Devon in 1880 and by 1914 he
had a business in New Malden making and selling timber buildings’.4 In September 1924 he bought Raynes
Park Golf Club, that had been on the western side of Grand Drive, and Cannon Hill Estate. In order to confirm
that George Blay’s birth details were accurate, the online UK census site was used.5For the 1881 census there
was a George Blay aged 6 months who was born in Reading in 1880, but there was no entry for George Blay of
Devon. The next census of 1891 had a George Blay as a student of 11 years old and his birthplace was Reading.
The 1901 census listed George Blay as a 21 year-old timber merchant traveller and his birthplace as Reading.
The 1911 census had a George Blay aged 31 years who was a timber merchant and who was born in Reading.
The ancestry website Rootschat6 had more details of a George Blay: he was born in 1880, this correlated with
the birth date given in ref (4), and he married Olive Ingram in 1908 at Kingston-upon-Thames. He died on
25 July 1936 at The Manor House, Ditton Hill, Long Ditton, Surbiton. His funeral service was at St Mary’s
Church, Long Ditton. There were sufficient details now to find an obituary of George Blay.
The obituary in the Surrey Comet 29 July 19367
stated that ‘he was a timber merchant who built up a large
business and saved Long Ditton Rectory. He started in a small way as a timber merchant and fencing contractor
in New Malden’. An advert in the Surrey Comet 1909 advertised George Blay as a Timber Merchant;8 this
showed that he was working in New Malden five years earlier than was previously thought.4 The obituary
further stated that ‘he died aged 56 years and he had become a very successful businessman in this part of the
country. He had been in good health up until Saturday 25 July 1936 when he was suddenly taken ill and died
within a few hours. He left a widow and three daughters, two of whom were married.’Mr Blay was a native
of Reading and came to New Malden when he was a young man. He set up a business as a timber merchant
and fencing contractor at Kingston Road, New Malden and the business was successful. ‘After the war he
made his first large venture when he bought Raynes Park Golf Course, which he let out for a time and later
developed as a housing estate.’
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 16
In George Blay’s obituary there was no mention of his war service during WW1. Unfortunately research into
Mr Blay’s service in the forces during WW1 was unsuccessful It was possible that he did not get conscripted
into the armed forces, as the work of timber merchants was considered ‘one of the occupations scheduled as
vitally important for war-work’. In List Apublished by the Ministry of Munitions, ‘Occupations required for
the production and transport of munitions’ were exempt.9 There were no reserved occupations in WW1 and
after conscription was enforced in 1916, conscripts could appeal against conscription at tribunals. Appeals
against conscription were published in local newspapers but all of the tribunal details were later destroyed.
However there are reports of tribunals from Thornbury, Gloucestershire which escaped destruction and three
of the tribunal judgements give support to the theory that timber mill workers were exempt from conscription.
The three saw-mill workers who were employed at Edmund Cullimore Saw-Mills, Thornbury, each received
The first was Mr Tom White aged 29 years of Saw Mill Lane, a
circular sawyer and saw sharpener. His application, dated 03/04/1916, stated that ‘he was the only man who
can sharpen the circular saw and convert the round timber to planks’. The tribunal judgement was ‘Conditional
Exemption whilst employed’. The second man was Henry White aged 25 years, of St Mary Street, a Horizontal and
Circular Sawyer of English Timber only (2 years). Single. His application for the tribunal was dated 26/03/1917
and it stated that he was ‘Engaged in Certified Trade of National Importance. Conditional Exemption’. The
third man was Edwin Wheeler aged 41 years of Gillingstool. He was Foreman Haulier with traction engine at
Saw mills. His application was dated 23/07/1917 and he also was given ‘Conditional Exemption’. Their work
involved turning tree trunks into wooden planks, which would then be made into cases for transporting guns
and ammunition to the front. In addition wood was essential for shoring up trench walls.
George Blay’s obituary stated that he acquired interests in properties and businesses in New Malden and
surrounding area. Areport held at the Surrey History centre recorded the conveyance of 21,22 and 24 Woodside,
Wimbledon, upon purchase at auction on 24 January 1918 between AG Smith (vendor) and George Blay
(purchaser), dated 24 April 1918.11
From the dates of the auction and conveyance it would appear that George
Blay was in the UK and not ‘at the Front’; this would support the idea that he was exempt from conscription.
However there was a discrepancy in that George Blay’s signature was not present on this document. In 1919 a
transactionwas recordedofMrGeorgeBlayofNew Maldenwhowas acknowledgedas TimberMerchanttoMrs
S C A Hibbert,12he was therefore still living and working in New Malden in 1919. The obituary7 mentioned that
‘at this time'(meaning after WW1), George Blay moved from New Malden where he was living at Westbury
Road, to Link House, Raynes Park. Details in Kelly’s Directory of Wimbledon 1920 lists George Blay (The
Link House) at Blenheim Road East Side. He remained at this address until 1929. From the Kelly’s Directories
of Wimbledon 1932 -1938, George Blay was listed at 43, Lock-up Garages, Firstway, Raynes Park, and also in
the Merton Commercial Directory of the Kelly’s Directories of Wimbledon 1932-1938. Firstway was the first
street built by George Blay in 19243 and is first seen in Kelly’s Directory of Wimbledon 1926. His obituary
also stated that he arrived in Long Ditton ‘about six years ago’
which equated to 1930.7
George Blay liked
tennis and he founded Raynes Park Residents Lawn Tennis Club in 1931.13
At the time of his death Mr Blay
was developing the Mid-Coombe Estate which had an area of 35 acres.
His obituary mentioned that George Blay was also ‘proprietor of Messrs George Blay of Honiton, one of the
largest firms of saw-mills in the West of England’. This was George Blay’s ‘Devon connection’. Areport from
1943 held at Devon Archives,14showed that George Blay Ltd, Saw Mills, Honiton, Devon were still operating
and still using the name of George Blay.15
This report was concerned with liability for an injury received by
an employee at the Honiton Saw Mill. The obituary also stated that George Blay was a Managing Director of
the Cannon Hill Estates Ltd, the company which he formed in 1924 and through which he did all preliminary
works, building and selling. He was also a Managing Director of Merton Mansions Ltd, an estate company.
George Blay built Merton Mansions, a development of 32 flats with a swimming pool, in 1929 at the corner of
Bushey Road and Martin Way. This was the last block of flats built in London to be called Mansions.4 He was
also a Managing Director of the Pitter Gauge and Precision Tool Co of Woolwich.
The obituary mentioned that George Blay had an interesting aviary at his home in Long Ditton and devoted a
lot of his time to the birds that he loved. He was the president of the Oriental Pheasant Society and kept one
of the finest collections of pheasants in the country. In addition he kept many unusual breeds of duck and had
an ostrich. It was said that he did not involve himself in local affairs yet he had great interest in Long Ditton
and worked hard to keep it rural. On several occasions he bought land that was up for sale, in order to prevent
undesirable development, the Long Ditton Rectory being his last purchase. This building was an interesting
16th-century half-timbered house.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 17
George Blay’s funeral at Long Ditton church was conducted by the Rev R H Wilson (rector). As well as his
widow, daughters, sons in law, brother, brothers in law and sisters in law, it was attended by three representatives
of Cannon Hill Estates, one each from Honiton Saw Mills, the Pitter Gauge and Precision Tool Co, and the
Oriental Pheasant Society, the Clerks of Malden and Merton Councils, the Clerk of the Governing Committee
of Surbiton Hospital, some 15 other persons worth noting, and ‘members of his household and garden staff’.7
He is buried in St Mary’s churchyard, Long Ditton. His eldest daughter Doreen (born 1910) was later laid to
rest in the same grave in 1984.16According to Honiton records,17George Blay had been a Freemason, and was
about to leave for Sweden with his wife and family when he suffered a stroke.
George Blay ‘built houses to a very agreeable standard because he appointed an architect to design them’, this
architect being Mr H G Turner. The houses did not have cellars or attics and the rooms were spacious and lofty.3
George Blay’s scheme was vast, it was to build between 150 to 200 houses annually. He was able to introduce
new buyers to theBuilding Societies, offering 85% mortgages which was ahigher percentage than many lenders
would offer at the time. For example, the sale of a house at 115 Bushey Road, Raynes Park, by George Blay
(vendor) to Bernard Posner (purchaser) on 17 April 1926, for £865, involved the raising of a mortgage arranged
by Mr Blay. The sale was completed 14 July 1926.18
My friend’s house in Orchard Close is attractive with an oriel window as seen in the photo on page 16. It is well
designed and evenly proportioned. It has a spacious entrance hall, a sitting-room, a dining-room, a kitchen and
a recently added conservatory. There are three bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor. The house has not
been altered inside and still retains attractive period features, such as the 1920 fireplaces in the sitting-room
(opposite, top left) and dining room (opposite, top right), and streamline 1920’s doors (opposite, bottom left).
An interesting feature of the house is the stair-case banister, which has vertical wooden bars. These bars are new
oak pick-axe handles from WW1 (opposite, bottom right), another reminder of the work of a timber merchant
in WW1. My friend was told that ‘George Blay had bought up the pick-axe handles as a job lot after WW1’.19
Indeed, these are mentioned in the interesting 1923
advertisement (right),20as well as other ‘Government
Surplus Stock'(never ‘War Surplus’) items for sale in
Tyne Docks, South Shields. The advert refers to New
Malden and Honiton, but also other George Blay sites
atHighbridge(Somerset) and Belfast, aboutwhich we
know nothing, as yet.
George Blay was a very astutebusinessman and built
up a timber business in New Malden from 1908. In
WW1 the work of a timber merchant was considered
of national importance and was exempt from
conscription,10 as it was essential for the transportation
of munitions.9 There is evidence that George Blay had
acquired an interest in buying and selling property in
A document at Surrey History Centre shows
a mortgage between J TChapman and Sidney Smith
of 1 Furnivale Inn, London, and Henry Seward
Cowdell of 26 Budge Row, London, Solicitors,
for properties in Woodside, Wimbledon, dated 5
February 1894, is endorsed with re-conveyance to
George Blay of New Malden, timber merchant, on
1 July 1924.21
Another record shows the conveyance
of 22 Woodside, Wimbledon, between George Blay
of Link House, Raynes Park, and Miss L J Perry of 4
Woodside, Wimbledon, dated 1928.22 As previously
mentioned, George Blay was
also involved in
He therefore must have built
up a large reserve of capital and with this, together with
his timber and property experience and the country’s
greatneed for more housing, seized theopportunity to
speculate and bought Raynes Park Golf Club. He developed the land and his legacy still lives on. Eighty years
after his death his houses are still known as Blay houses and they are still very desirable.4
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 18
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 205 – MARCH 2018 – PAGE 19
APPENDIX 1: How many different house designs did Cannon Hill Estates Ltd build?
According to Jowett3 ‘Blay built houses which usually consisted of three bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, hall and
two reception rooms. Some houses had more bedrooms. Some of his houses were semi-detached which was
characteristic for the period but more were built in short terrace blocks’. My friend’s house in Orchard Close,
is typical and is in a short terrace. The house that she used to live in Parkway in the 1980s was ‘semi-detached
and was “along the same lines” as the Orchard Close house, with everything bigger in proportion. The Parkway
house had oriel bays on the side elevation in the two main bedrooms and two small windows in the lounge
and dining room on the side wall’. The Raynes Park and West Barnes web site4 said that ‘[Blay’s] house styles
were conventional for the 1920s, with plain leaded lights, and three vertical timbers in the gables over the bays.
A[further] type of house on the Cannon Hill estate is seen in the two white-rendered, green-roofed detached
houses at the junction of Southway and Parkway.’My friend in Orchard Close remarked that these had ‘long
thin coloured glass windows on the stairwell windows’.
APPENDIX 2: The streets built by Cannon Hill Estates Ltd.
These are given by Jowett3 as follows: Firstway, followed by Heathway, both turnings off Grand Drive, were
completed by the end of 1924. In 1925, 34 houses were built on the Kingston By-pass as it traversed Grand
Drive. In 1926, 21 houses were built in Greenway, preceded by Southway and South Drive (renamed Parkway
in 1930). By 6 October 1926 George Blay reported to the council on the progress of Elm Walk, Grand Drive,
Fairway, Linkway and Church Walk. In 1927 he was laying out Berrylands and Cannon Close. In 1928 he
proposed building Meadway and Crossway. In 1929 he was laying out Cherrywood Lane and The Green (but
sold some of his land there to Bessant Brown Ltd who built some houses on it). He also reported completion of
Meadow Close, Meadway and Elm Walk. In 1930 he completed Parkway. Mr Blay had to press the council for
the making up of the roads. By 1939 the remaining roads on the estate were completed with Westway, Westway
Close, Kingsway, Brook Close, Coppice Close, Elm Close, Orchard Close, Oak Way, Woodlands and Eastway.
My thanks to Judith Goodman for information on George Blay’s obituary.
Kelly’s Directory of Wimbledon. 1920-1936
3 Jowett, E M Raynes Park. A Social History (1987, Merton Historical Society) ISBN 0950148857
Surrey Comet 29 July 1936 (Kingston Local History Centre, Kingston upon Thames, KT11EU)
British Newspapers Archive online. Pers. comm. from Archivist Rachel Ponting on 02/10/2017, Devon Archives,
Bittern House, Sowton, Exeter EX2 7NL
SHC 6047/6 Surrey Archives and History Centre, 130 Goldsworth Road, Woking GU21 6ND. Pers. comm. from Jane
Lewis, Public Services & Engagement Manager, on 04/10/2017
Ref B464/25, North Devon Record Office. Pers. comm. as ref (8)
Ref 8536B/E/24/32, Devon Archives. Pers. comm. as ref (8)
George Blay bought Honiton Sawmills from Mr Buckingham in 1917. Pers. comm. Margaret Lewis BEM, curator,
Allhallows Museum, High Street, Honiton. EX14 1PG.
Pers. comm. as ref (15)
SHC 7458/1. See ref (11)
SHC 6047/2. See ref (11)
SHC 6047/8. See ref (11)
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