Bulletin 181

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March 2012 Bulletin 181
Tower Creameries Commemorative Plaque D Haunton
Builders, Wardens and Pig Clubs S Gallagher
The Coronation of Queen Eleanor P J Hopkins
Child Evacuees of World War II – Part 1: Where did they go? D Haunton

and much more

VICE PRESIDENTS: Viscountess Hanworth, Eric Montague and William Rudd
CHAIR: David Haunton


Stone’s chemist shop was at 129 Green Lane from about 1932.It was a typical local independent business, and its well-stocked

windows confirm a wide range of ‘toilet requisites’ as well as the expertise of a ‘chemist & druggist’. There were other services for
its customers too. Bill recalls that Rudd family holiday snaps were taken here for processing when he was a lad.
Stone’s are long gone; the premises now form part of a convenience store, and have lost the stylish canted entrance
Bill took this photograph in 1969.

Programme March – June 2
‘An Outstanding Resource’ – JG 2
Reports: ‘The Story of Morden Park’ 3

‘Local Highwaymen’ 4

‘Violette Szabo and SOE’ 5
Tower Creameries Commemorative Plaque – David Haunton 7
Local History Workshops:
4 November: Motspur Park; local Civil Defence preparations 1937-8

9 December: Home Guard deaths at Tower Creameries; Queen Eleanor; a spy in Morden;
wartime memories on the BBC website; a cottage in Morden; Merton priory; Merton Place 8
Builders, Wardens and Pig Clubs – Sheila Gallagher 9
The Coronation of Queen Eleanor – Peter Hopkins 12
Child Evacuees of World War Two – Part 1: Where did they go? – David Haunton 13

Saturday 17 March 2.30pm Christ Church Hall, Colliers Wood
‘The National Archives, and Some of its Holdings’
An illustrated talk by Melinda Haunton, who works at TNA
Saturday 14 April 2.30pm Christ Church Hall, Colliers Wood
‘Calico Printers’
The speaker for this illustrated talk is David Cufley.
Christ Church Hall is next to the church, in Christchurch Road, 250m from Colliers Wood
Underground station. Limited parking at the hall, but plenty in nearby streets or at the Tandem
Centre, 200m south. Buses 152, 200 and 470 pass the door.
Saturday 12 May 2.30pm A Mitcham Heritage Walk
led by our Vice-Chair Dr Tony Scott
Meet outside Wandle Industrial Museum, at the Cricket Green. The walk will cover various
properties round the historic Cricket Green, as well as The Canons, Park Place and the Three
Kings area. About one and a half hours, but walkers may drop out at any point.
Tuesday 19 June 11am
Visit to the House of Commons, courtesy of Siobhain Mc Donagh MP
Meet outside the House of Commons entrance. Numbers are restricted.
Visitors are welcome to attend our talks. Entry £2.
Saturday 17 March 2.30pm Christ Church Hall, Colliers Wood
‘The National Archives, and Some of its Holdings’
An illustrated talk by Melinda Haunton, who works at TNA
Saturday 14 April 2.30pm Christ Church Hall, Colliers Wood
‘Calico Printers’
The speaker for this illustrated talk is David Cufley.
Christ Church Hall is next to the church, in Christchurch Road, 250m from Colliers Wood
Underground station. Limited parking at the hall, but plenty in nearby streets or at the Tandem
Centre, 200m south. Buses 152, 200 and 470 pass the door.
Saturday 12 May 2.30pm A Mitcham Heritage Walk
led by our Vice-Chair Dr Tony Scott
Meet outside Wandle Industrial Museum, at the Cricket Green. The walk will cover various
properties round the historic Cricket Green, as well as The Canons, Park Place and the Three
Kings area. About one and a half hours, but walkers may drop out at any point.
Tuesday 19 June 11am
Visit to the House of Commons, courtesy of Siobhain Mc Donagh MP
Meet outside the House of Commons entrance. Numbers are restricted.
Visitors are welcome to attend our talks. Entry £2.

It was very pleasing to see that the February 2012 issue of the BBC’s genealogy magazine Who Do You Think
You Are? devoted its ‘Your Projects’ page to the monumental Morden enterprise undertaken by Peter Hopkins.
He has been putting Morden’s medieval records onto the Merton Historical Society website, together with an
English translation (from the Latin), explanatory commentary and referencing. The surviving records are held
in a number of different collections, and the staff of all of them have been helpful and generous with their time
(and have not charged for reproduction). Other researchers too have shared their knowledge and skills, but it
is Peter who has carried through this ambitious venture. Alan Crosby, the author of the article, comments, ‘It’s
outstanding scholarship, and I suspect it’s unique in this country – I know of no other society that has achieved
such a project’.

Following publication of the above article, we received the following email from Cliff Webb of West Surrey
Family History Society: ‘As you note on your website, West Surrey FHS have transcribed a number of parish
registers in your area. Noting the wonderful work your Society has done, especially on Manorial records, we

thought you might like copies of some relevant material. The two small Merton files are of periods for which

Bishops’Transcripts survive in a gap in the registers’. Cliff has generously supplied us with spreadsheets covering:
St Mary’s Merton burials 1559-1659, baptisms and marriages 1679-80, 1685-6, 1692-3 (from Bishops’

Transcripts, the Register being lost for this period); Christ Church Colliers Wood baptisms 1875-7; Zion Chapel
Mitcham baptisms 1842-56 and burials 1864-76; St Lawrence Morden baptisms 1815-76, burials 1841-66.
Peter Hopkins has these spreadsheets and will be happy to consult them in response to your questions (see

contact details in December Bulletin).
We are very grateful to Cliff for this gift.



‘THE STORY OF MORDEN PARK’ – Evelyn Jowett Memorial Lecture

On 29 October Peter Hopkins of the Society and Sarah Gould of Merton Heritage & Local Studies Centre gave
comprehensive and impressive well-illustrated presentations as a two-part lecture on the subject of Morden
Park. Raynes Park Library Hall was full to capacity, indicating the popularity of talks by experts on subjects
relevant to our area, rather than more general presentations on other topics.

Part 1. Peter dealt with the history of the Park until its acquisition by the local council in 1945. He started by
recounting his happy memories of using the Park when younger, including leading for 15 years from 1976 the
Morden Park Holiday Club, organised by local churches for children during one week of the summer holidays.

In 1768 the site was a tenant farm
belonging to Richard Garth, lord
of the manor of Morden. A 99-year
lease, which required an Act of
Parliament, was granted to John
Ewart, a brandy merchant. He built

the fine Georgian house, and Peter

described in some detail the changes
to the house over the following 200
years, using copious illustrations.
There was a series of private
occupants, until in 1934 it was taken
over by Merton Park Golf Club, later
renamed Morden Park Golf Club,
who used it as their clubhouse until
the outbreak of war. An audience member later suggested that it then served as a Home Guard post.

Peter described the outbuildings and gardens as set out in sales particulars of 1873. They included a domestic
yard with circular dairy and knife and boot room (both still standing), laundry rooms, brew-house, well, coach
house, stables, pond, dung pit and closet. There were extensive pleasure grounds and shrubbery walks, an

‘Italian’flower garden, with conservatory and vinery, and kitchen gardens. An ornamental entrance lodge stood

at London Road. Much of the estate operated as a farm even after the area around the house became parkland,

but the only farm building that survives today is Church Farm Cottage, next to St Lawrence’s church.
Peter went on to examine the wider estate, using superimposed maps to illustrate changes. The original lease of
1768 was for 133 acres (54ha), but this was increased by 1838 to 210 acres (85ha). Much of the former arable
land to the north is now outside the park, which now extends further south, to Lower Morden Lane, to include

fields formerly belonging to other ancient farms. Peter described his researches into how today’s landscape
relates to medieval, or earlier, structures and fields. For instance, tree lines marking ancient field boundaries can

be clearly seen in aerial photos. He suggests that many of the detached crofts along the Epsom Road, belonging
to medieval tenements in Lower Morden, could have fronted the old Roman road, Stane Street. He believes that

the ‘mound’ in the park was not a ‘garden feature’ but much older. Field-names nearby include ‘Gallowsfield’

and ‘Dedemanforlong’. It is likely to have been an ancient burial mound; such mounds have been used for

siting gallows in other parts of Surrey.
In 1884 the freehold of the estate was sold by the Garth family to the Hatfeilds, and in 1945 Merton & Morden
Urban District Council acquired it.

Part 2. Sarah Gould then told us that in 1945 the estate consisted of 185 acres (75ha), of which 80 acres (32ha)

on the north-eastern side were transferred to the LCC for playing fields. Fifteen acres (6ha) were reserved for

civic development.

Initially the ground floor of the house was used by the council, and the upper rooms by local groups. But with the

creation of the London Borough of Merton in 1965, the whole building was taken over by the parks, cemeteries
and allotments department. When this moved to the Civic Centre in 1985 the house was closed up, gradually
fell into disrepair and suffered from thieves, vandals and squatters, and arson attacks to outbuildings. English
Heritage became concerned, and after various proposals to mothball the house or sell it were abandoned, money
from the Heritage Lottery Fund was obtained in 1997 for the restoration, repair and adaptation of the building

to form Merton’s new register office. Under architects Lawrence & Wrightson work began in 1998, and the
house reopened as the register office on 13 November 2000. Sarah showed many ‘before and after’photographs.

There was no doubt that the project had been a major success.

1825 Watercolour by G Yates, copyright Guildhall Library, Corporation of London


The main civic developments were Morden Park
Pool (1967) and Merton College (1971). (A paddling
pool was also constructed, and the bandstand dates
from the early 1960s.) The pool was to an attractive
modern design, but has recently needed major
repairs. The college was formally opened by Group
Captain Leonard Cheshire VC, who also unveiled a
bronze plaque to Sergeant Peter Walley, who in 1940

steered his Hurricane, crippled by enemy fire, away

from housing and into the trees of Morden Park,
losing his life. Numbers of students at the college
reached 5000 by 1999. Vocational training courses
include catering, and there is a restaurant open to
the public. The college merged with Phoenix Sixth
Form College in 2000 and since 2009 is the Morden
campus of South Thames College.

The future of the playing fields part of the park has been the subject of recent controversy. With the winding-up

of the GLC (successor to the LCC) the freehold of the land passed to the London Borough of Merton, with the

London Playing Fields Society (LPFS) taking a 99-year lease. A bid for funding to redevelop the fields failed,

and LPFS withdrew from the lease at the end of 2005. In November 2009 the council revoked a decision to

dispose of part of the land to Goals Soccer for a floodlit facility, after opposition from members of the public and

the Morden Park and Playing Fields Society, a local preservation group formed in 1991. A public consultation

exercise in late 2009 made it clear that there was support for a variety of uses for the playing field land, but

there should be no commercial development.
It was found also that people gave a high priority to the maintenance and promotion of the park’s heritage and
environment. Sarah went on to describe how the park is now managed for wildlife. Large parts of the grassland

have been returned to meadowland, resulting in greater diversity in plant species, and hence insects, benefiting

the wider food chain and supporting more birds and mammals. Since about 2000 the park has been part of the
Capital Woodlands Project. This involves management to preserve veteran trees that predate the park, leaving
dead wood in situ, replanting appropriately, and creating new woodland areas and tree trails.

Sarah ended by saying that the Morden Park estate continues to be a jewel in Merton’s crown in terms of historical

significance, environmental importance, and the education, entertainment and enjoyment of the local community.

[An informative and fully illustrated booklet, Morden Park, by Peter Hopkins and Bill Rudd was published in
2002 by Merton Library Service on behalf of the Society. It is available at our indoor meetings, from libraries,
or from Peter Hopkins, Publications Secretary.]

David Roe


On Saturday 19 November at Christ Church Hall, after the AGM, we were treated to an entertaining and well-
researched talk by member Clive Whichelow. He told us that despite the tag ‘gentlemen of the road’ not many
highwaymen were gallant and chivalrous. However they did come from a wide variety of backgrounds – one was
even a clergyman!

The heyday of the highwayman was during the 17th and 18th centuries, and the roads of Wimbledon, Putney,
Richmond and Wandsworth could be dangerous for travellers. The highwayman’s preferred terrain was heaths
and commons, and more than one hung out at the Baldfaced Stag on the Old Portsmouth Road (the site is now
covered by Asda) and at the Green Man on Putney Heath.

The Golden Farmer (1625-1689) lived a double life for more than 40 years, as prosperous farmer, and highwayman.
He farmed at Bagshot, but often practised his other trade on the Portsmouth Road and at Putney. A ruthless thief,
he was said to have killed 13 of his victims, and he robbed the poor as well as the rich.

Claude Duval (1643-1670), French born, became a footman before turning to robbery, and is perhaps the closest
to the romantic archetype. He was said to be dashing, courteous and gallant, once inviting a female victim to dance
a coranto with him on the heath where he had held up her coach.

Thomas Rowland (1659-1699) haunted Wimbledon Common and Putney Heath as well as Clapham Common,
disguised as a woman, and decorously riding side-saddle away from the scene.

Recent building at South Thames College Morden campus.
Photo: D Roe (2011)


Nicholas Wells (1684-1712), a butcher by trade, turned to highway robbery, often at Putney Heath, after his marriage

failed. He is also said to have exchanged his wife for a jackdaw, with a footpad (a horseless highway thief).
The Great Frost of 1683 prompted Jonathan Simpson (1654-1686) to swap his horse for a pair of skates so that
he could rob fellow-skaters on the frozen Thames. His normal territory was the Portsmouth Road.

The clerical highwayman was a Parson Darby who supplemented his stipend by robbery, mainly on Bagshot

Heath. He was caught after shooting dead a mailcoach driver.
Like Duval, James Maclaine (1714-1750) had aspirations to gentility. Son of a Presbyterian minister, he became
a butler before taking to the road. Richmond was his preferred patch, but he is notorious for robbing Horace
Walpole in Hyde Park.

Edward Hinton twice escaped the gallows, and gave up highway robbery, but was subsequently caught burgling
a house, and suffered the penalty. He is said to have stolen a kiss from a pretty vicar’s daughter when he held up
their coach on Putney Heath, and let father and daughter go with their purses intact.

William Page (1730-1758) had to begin his career with borrowed pistols and a hired horse. He later developed a
strategy of posing as a gentleman driving a phaeton, concealing the coach and, dressed in old clothes and riding
one of the horses, robbing his prey and then making off once more, an apparently respectable citizen.

It seems that the most famous highwayman of all, Dick Turpin (1705-1739), was active briefly in Wandsworth,
Barnes and Putney during his short career of just over two years. A butcher by trade, he was also a smuggler, sheep
rustler, horse thief and housebreaker.

However the best documented local highwayman was undoubtedly Jerry
Abershaw (1773-1795), who took up his calling at the age of 17. His gang
was based at the Baldfaced Stag. By all accounts he was a violent man,
but he had a sense of humour, and often played tricks on his victims. His
exploits appealed to some writers, and he even found his way into the
Dictionary of National Biography.

Virtually all the highwaymen ended their lives ‘turned off’ on the ‘nubbing
cheat/chit’ (gallows), often at Tyburn (the site is near Marble Arch), where
the occasion provided a jolly day out for sightseers and family parties,
and the best seats cost 2/6d. Afterwards the corpses, covered with pitch to
preserve them, were often taken off to be suspended in chains on gibbets
sited prominently on local highways. The sight may have been designed

Woodcut by Thomas Bewick (1753-1828), from

as an awful warning, but in fact it seems to have been more of a tourist 1800 Woodcuts by Thomas Bewick and His
attraction. When Jerry Abershaw was gibbeted on Putney Heath in 1795 School (Dover Publications 1962) plate 163
it is said that a crowd of 100,000 was present, and the spectacle was a
‘favourite Sunday outing’ for months. The spot is still known as Jerry’s Hill. (There was never a gibbet at Tibbet’s
Corner – all that was there was a lodge to Earl Spencer’s estate, once manned by a man called Tibbett.)

The audience thoroughly enjoyed Clive’s account of these colourful if alarming characters. For more about them
read his booklet Local Highwaymen, which is widely available and costs £3.25.

Judith Goodman


At Raynes Park Library Hall, on 10 December 2011, members and visitors heard a talk by Daphne Marchant,
Liberal Democrat councillor and former mayor of Lambeth. Unfortunately, her husband Richard was ill, and
unable to attend and contribute. During our break, members could view Daphne’s extensive collection of
newspaper cuttings and photos of memorials.

Born Violette Bushell on 21 June 1921 in Paris, our heroine was brought up at 18 Burnley Road in Stockwell.

Her father was a carpenter, who met and married a French woman while serving in France after the first World

War. Violette attended the local Central School and left formal education at age 14. However, her mother taught
her to speak and think in French, which was later to prove vital. With four brothers and no sisters, she grew up

competitive, fiery and athletic.
Her first jobs were at Bon Marché and then Woolworths (rumours of a later job at Lines Bros Triang factory
in Merton are unconfirmed), and at the outbreak of war in 1939 she joined the Land Army. Her mother often
provided lunches for Free French officers, and at one of these Violette met the dashing Lieutenant Étienne Szabo.

They were married after a whirlwind romance, and their daughter Tania was born in June 1942.


Alas, Étienne was killed at the Battle of El Alamein in October of that year. Soon afterwards Violette was

approached to join SOE (Special Operations Executive), whose job was to ‘set Europe ablaze’ by supporting
Resistance movements, and who were looking for athletic French-speakers. Burning to avenge her husband,
and with her parents agreeing to look after Tania, she agreed immediately, though there was some concern in

SOE that she might have a ‘Stockwell French’ accent. Officially she joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry

(FANY), many of whose personnel were actually in SOE.

After military training – explosives, radio, firearms (Violette was said to be the best shot in SOE) – she was

parachuted into Occupied France on two separate occasions in 1944. Her orders were to organise and lead the
Maquis in sabotage operations against enemy communications such as road and railway bridges and telephone

lines. Her second mission ended when she was captured, still firing her Sten gun to enable her companions to

escape. She was interrogated by the Gestapo for several days, but gave nothing away. Eventually she was taken
to Buchenwald concentration camp, where she plotted to escape with another SOE prisoner, Eileen Nearne, but
was sent on to Ravensbrück camp before the plan
was complete. (Eileen Nearne did escape later and
made her way back to England.) For several months
Violette Szabo was subjected to a harsh regime of
hard labour and little food, but in early February 1945
she was shot, in company with two other SOE women
agents, Lilian Rolfe and Denise Bloch.

She was awarded the George Cross posthumously
for her heroism; her little daughter Tania received
the medal from King George VI in 1946. Both

Violette and Étienne were awarded the Légion

d’Honneur. On the Albert Embankment by Lambeth
Palace there is a memorial to Violette and other SOE
agents who lost their lives. It carries a portrait bust
of her, a good likeness. (Our speaker takes pride
in having arranged for proper public access to this
memorial.) There is also a small museum far away
in Herefordshire, in the tiny village of Wormelow.
It occupies part of ‘Cartref’, a house where Violette
relaxed between missions; the owner, Rosemary
Rigby, still remembers her climbing trees – and
roofs! A small ceremony is held there every year on
her birthday, attended by local mayors and French


Having mentioned the restrictions still imposed

on some SOE reports by the Official Secrets Act,

Daphne reminded us of several other notable SOE
agents – the Norwegian heroes of Telemark, who
destroyed the heavy water plant at Rjukan, thus
delaying the German development of a nuclear bomb; Eileen Nearne,
MBE, who died alone in Torquay last year, and would have been buried
without ceremony had the local Royal British Legion not pitched in
and publicised her life; and Nancy Wake, AC, GM, who died only the
previous August, aged 98. She had continued in SOE after the war,
and spent her last years in the Star and Garter home in Richmond,
affectionately regarded as a ‘character’. One Christmas, when invited
to have some tea by the Queen Mother she robustly suggested, and
received, a more alcoholic drink, and then casually stole some bits of
the royal Christmas cake.

David Haunton

Poem by Leo Marks, SOE (used as a code for Violette to encrypt messages)

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours
And yours


Members may recall the article ‘One night in the Blitz –
Mitcham 16/17 April 1941’ in Bulletin 175, p.11, which
mentioned the bomb which hit the Tower Creameries on
Mitcham Common, killing several Home Guards. The factory
was repaired during the war, and a plaque commemorating the
dead Home Guards was attached to the building. Several years
ago the building was demolished, and the plaque taken into
the care of the Mitcham branch of the Royal British Legion.

The site has now been re-developed as a block of flats, named

‘The Meadows’. A relative of someone injured that night in

1941 approached our Society, asking for our good offices in

getting the plaque, or a replica, installed on the new building.
We were delighted to be informed by the developers, Notting
Hill Housing Trust, that this was already in hand, that a designer
had been appointed, and that they had already inspected the

original in the RBL offices. It is intended to unveil the replica
plaque at a formal ceremony, but not until after all the flats have

been taken, to avoid any appearance of its use as advertising.

David Haunton

Photo: Stephen Turner (2001)


The first exhibition is entitled ‘Town and Country Wimbledon’.

Access is possible on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, via the Museum, until 29 April.
The Wimbledon Society Museum of Local History is at 22 Ridgway, Wimbledon, London SW19 4QN.

Friday 4 November – 4 present. David Haunton in the chair

Peter Hopkins had been following up the suggestion
by Jeremy Harte of Bourne Hall Museum that ‘Motspur
Park’ was not an ancient meeting place name (‘mot’
= ‘moot’?) (see Bulletin 180 page 7). The unusual
rectilinear parish boundary features are a puzzle.
Probably there was a series of assarts, or enclosures,
beginning in the 12th century. By the early 13th century
these had all become part of Merton priory’s Hobalds
estate. But what must have once been a continuous sweep
of common land from Sparrowfield (including Morden

Common) round to Sutton Common had been interrupted
at some earlier (perhaps even pre-Domesday) stage by

the creation of the ‘Southfield’ at Lower Morden.

Bill Rudd’s contribution is on page 1.
Civil Defence preparations before the last war were David Haunton’s subject. By mid-1937 Civil Defence
was beginning to be planned, with the appointment of County Organisers. Of particular concern was the
need for training in gas awareness. A suitably qualified ARP (air-raid precautions) officer received a salary

of £300 per annum, with £52 for telephone and car expenses. By May 1938 local authorities had received
an Exchequer grant, Merton & Morden had a full ARP committee, and council employees were in training.

Shelter sites were selected, and a list of schools suitable for first-aid posts drawn up. By June the district

had 534 volunteers signed up and training.

Judith Goodman

Extent of Sparrowfeld
Common in 16th century
Southfield(open arable field)

Friday 9 December – six present. Judith Goodman in the chair.

Peter Hopkins reported that long-standing member Irene Bain had been in contact with William Bumstead,
the twin brother of a former colleague of hers who had been injured by the parachute mine that fell on Tower
Creameries. The plaque commemorating those killed, who were Home Guard members, was removed to
the British Legion, Mitcham, many years ago. MHS had been asked to approach the site’s developers with
a view to having a memorial reinstated. (see page 7 for more).
In a previous workshop Peter reported that he had found evidence confirming the date of Queen Eleanor’s

coronation, and he was now able to add some new information. (See page 12 for his full account.)
Peter, while searching for references to Morden on the Internet, had found a more modern one. The document
was entitled ‘Dick’s Visit to Morden 20 August 1940’, and purports to be a report sent by a Russian spy after
a visit to Morden. Mention was made of his visits to other places, and a key to coded references in the letter
had been added later – e.g. ‘sausage dealers’ = ‘Germans’.

Rosemary Turner had found some photographs taken by her husband Steve of the commemorative plaque
mentioned above (and see page 7); a MHS event at The Canons in 2001 at the time of the publication of Eric
Montague’s Cricket Green book; and a public house which no one present could identify. Rosemary would
show it to David Roe.
She had finished typing up the information on Morden from the Valuation Records, which showed areas

which had not been developed at that time (1909/1910). Peter is going to advise Rosemary about plotting
the various plans onto a map.
She had made a start on her History Note about Lodge Farm, and thinks she has located the medieval section

of the mansion house, and also identified the wing likely to have been used by the family, and which by the
staff. Hoare’s Bank had not been able to find anything relating to the house, but had sent photocopies of

other properties, in Mitcham and Sutton, owned by the family.

David Haunton reported that the BBC website archives had 47,000 recordings, mostly of wartime memories,
from elderly persons, collected in 2004-2005. About 50 related to our area. (see page 13).
Madeline Healey spoke about a cottage in Lower Morden Lane, that her father had purchased – but only
after improvements had been made (he had previously rented it). It was one of the row of New Cottages built
by Mr Hatfeild in 1907, and had candles upstairs and gas downstairs. She had found paperwork relating to
the purchase in 1950. The deposit was £50 and there was £375 to pay.
Cyril Maidment had
photographs of the 1980s
archaeological dig at Merton
priory, taken at an open day.
In some Lionel Green and
Scott McCracken could be
He passed round copies of
Heales’s map and spoke about
trying to work out where the
main entrance into the priory
would have been.

Judith Goodman had
brought in various pictures
of Nelson’s Merton Place. It
was noted that the building
was not well sited, as it faced
north and east, and the south
side had the kitchen block.
Judith believed that the former owners probably did have (as Cyril postulated) a gate leading straight from
the high road to the door on the north front. But Nelson’s purchase of extra land enabled him to put in the
sweeping carriage drive which led to the grand new entrance on the east front.
Rosemary Turner
Dates of next Workshops: Fridays 16 March, 27 April and 22 June at 2.30pm at Wandle Industrial Museum.
All are welcome.

Merton priory open day in the 1980s – west end of priory church, looking south.
Lionel is standing at far right


SHEILA GALLAGHER remembers Hamilton Road

Ken Gibbons (Bulletin 179, p.12, fn.10) was unsure of the name of the builder he worked for in 1944. The

building firm in Hamilton Rd in 1944 was H.F. Meech – the proprietor was Harry Meech. I had not heard of
any connection with the F.J. Meech firm which built houses in Morden, but it is likely to be part of a wider

family, since the name is relatively uncommon. Recalling memories from that time has prompted others, some

confirmed by documents found in my late father’s papers which have survived three house moves.

Mr. Meech’s address was 81 Hamilton Road (my family lived at no.97). The house and builder’s
yard beside it had been owned previously by another builder, Frederick Wales. I am not sure when
Meech took over, though I am almost certain that there was no overlap or partnership between them,
and that it was an active business when it changed hands. The Wales family, father, mother and
daughter Doreen, were still living at no.81 when I returned to Wimbledon from evacuation in Leicestershire

in mid-1941, aged 9. This confirms that Harry Meech took over well after the beginning of the war.

The detached house was larger than those in the terraces beside it and housed the local Air Raid Wardens’

Post in its cellar, probably from early in the War. This is confirmed by my eldest sister Kathleen who was a

‘Lady Warden’ from January 1940, when she was 17½ years old, until she enlisted in the ATS in 1942. The post
moved later to a purpose-built brick building put up on the vacant plot (no.99) requisitioned from my father,
Robert J. O’Hara, who owned 97 and 99 Hamilton Rd.1

Harry Meech and my father were both unfit for active service and were Air Raid Wardens. I wonder if there are
records of dates when people joined the Air Raid Wardens – if so might it be possible to find out when Harry

Meech joined the Hamilton Road post? He patrolled other local streets with my father, who recalled that it was
lucky for them that they had turned into the Wimbledon end of Hamilton Road just before a bomb fell which
destroyed about four houses in Quicks Road, but tragic for the occupants.2

Robert O’Hara’s official insignia; enamel lapel
badge and gold on navy blue armband

I remember Mr. Meech being involved in ‘War Damage’ work as described in the article. I believe small

builders benefited from the regular work. I found a detailed invoice dated 1946 for War Damage repairs to

our house [see illustration]. Most of the damage had been sustained when a large bomb fell in Merton Road
on 19 February 1944 causing extensive destruction, which included the Garage owned by Frank Verran, our

neighbour at 95 Hamilton Road. Harry Meech’s firm prospered after the War, continuing to work locally and

in the Metropolis.3 My father, an electrician with Daily Mail Newspapers, employed other electricians on
subcontract work with him. (I have two subcontracts, dated 1947, between R.J. O’Hara and Taylor Woodrow
for repairs at Green St, W1 and Adam & Eve Mews, W8, witnessed by H.F. Meech of Hamilton Road.)

The local community around South Wimbledon Underground Station was close-knit during the War; some of the
same people were Wardens and members, or on the committee, of the Trafalgar Pig Club and/or the poultry and
rabbit clubs established on the same premises – a disused shop, formerly a butcher’s, on Merton High Street,


next to the Dark House pub [now the Kilkenny Tavern]. The pig pens were built in the yard behind the shop.
The premises were, I believe, licensed for slaughter which was carried out there by a butcher, Mr Higgins,
whose shop was in Wimbledon High Street. There was an extensive stretch of disused land behind the Pig
Club buildings which had been used previously for repairing cars and motorcycles; attempts were made to turn
it into allotments but it was heavily contaminated with oil and metal.


I searched earlier in local newspapers and other sources, without success, for contemporary references as to how
these clubs were established with the approval of the Government, receiving allowances of feed for the animals.
Nowadays it is possible to locate wartime regulations online regarding domestic pig, poultry and rabbit keeping
and encouraging people to grow vegetables and fruit in gardens, allotments and public parks.

Food rationing was worse after the War and continued into the early 1950s, and any supplements to cheer the
meagre and boring, albeit healthy, meals were very welcome and worth the considerable efforts people put into
producing them.

Thinking back and finding long-forgotten documents has reminded me of many more characters and incidents.
Perhaps other families have stories about those difficult but eventful times?

1 Confirmed by a Wimbledon Council Land Tax bill showing reduced liability on a smaller area.

2 Nos.69-72 Quicks Road were hit on 4 February 1944 – see Norman Plastow Safe as Houses (1994) p.71
3 See invoice below to R.J. O’Hara for goods supplied in 1965:

Ken Gibbons adds:

I only knew two or three people in Hamilton Road, besides Mr Meech. One was Barbara Carpenter, who lived
opposite Meech’s yard. She went to Pelham School and was one of the evacuees to Lord Louis Mountbatten’s
house: a very good swimmer, she swam for the school team. Another was Harry Hopkins, who lived next to
the yard and also attended Pelham School. And there was a Mr Wood who worked for Meech, and lived at the
Quicks Road end of Hamilton Road.

I remember the Pig Club, behind the old butcher’s shop and the Horse and Groom pub (the Dark House). There
used to be a couple of bins by the entrance to the Club for people to put food in for the pigs – like potato peelings
or cabbage leaves. Not that we had a lot of waste food. The ground where the pigs were kept led onto High
Path. There was a little cottage at the end of High Path, where a Mrs Choppin lived, who sold second-hand

clothes, firewood, logs and stuff like that.

David Haunton adds:

The hourly wages paid to workmen detailed in the 1946 War Damage invoice above make interesting reading.
Skilled tradesmen (foreman, slater, plumber, joiner and painter) receive from 2s 3¼d to 2s 9½d per hour;
unskilled labourers (and the plumber’s mate) between 11¼d and 1s 4¾d; while the apprentice gets only 8d and
the ‘Boy’ 8¾d. (This is the tea-boy, usually extra money for a small number of hours, paid to a workman who
makes pots of tea for the staff, two or three times a day, in addition to his normal work.) In present-day values
these are, very roughly, £5-00 per hour for the skilled men, and £2-30 for the unskilled. Once multiplied by
the number of hours worked, the total per man is rounded up to the next penny – there are no halfpennies or
farthings in the account rendered.

Yearly street directories (compiled in November/December the previous year) record ‘Chas.Geo.Chopping’ at
50 High Path from 1934 to at least 1940, as a private resident with no trade given. The Voters Lists for 1934
and 1935 (compiled in September for the given year) give both Charles George and Helen Annie Chopping as
voters, but from 1936 only Helen Annie is registered. It looks as if Mr and Mrs Chopping arrived and set up
shop in 1934, but that Charles departed or died during 1936, leaving his wife to carry on the business alone.

Curiously, I have found another Meech, Francis, living at 147 Merton Road from at least 1881 until 1901.
He then moved to 175 Merton Road, where in the Surrey Electors List he is described as the freeholder and
‘gentleman’. He lived at no.175 until 1906, when he appears to have died (in the Bath area), aged 82.


PETER HOPKINS has discovered more evidence relating to

In June 1996 I contributed an article to Bulletin 118 about the coronation of Queen Eleanor of Provence, wife
of Henry III, where I cited evidence from Matthew Paris’s Chronicles and from The Red Book of the Exchequer,
showing that the coronation took place at Westminster and not at Merton as had so often been claimed. What I
failed to notice at that time was that these two sources differed as to the date of the coronation. Matthew Paris
gave Sunday 20 January 1236, the wedding having taken place at Canterbury on 14 January, whereas The Red

Book said the coronation was on ‘the Sunday before the Purification’, which would have been Sunday 27 January.

Both were written by contemporaries of the events, Matthew Paris being a monk at St Albans 1217-1259, with

access to many documents, while The Red Book was compiled by a clerk who died in 1246.
Lionel Green accepted the later date in his article on the Statute of Merton in Bulletin 138 (June 2001), placing
the wedding at Canterbury on 20 January, so that the Council at Merton fell between these two events. He

suggested that the coronation was delayed due to flooding at Westminster, citing John Stow’s 1598 Survey of
London. However, I recently came across the published edition of The Close Rolls of Henry III on lnternet
Archive. Every entry on the Close Rolls gives the date and place it was executed, so I decided to check where
Henry was on these various dates. Henry was at Reading until 10 January, at Rochester on 13 January, and at
Canterbury on 14 and 15 January, just as Matthew Paris says. On 18 January he was back at Rochester, and on
20 January he was at Westminster, again just as Matthew Paris said. But the second entry on the Close Rolls
for 20 January begins: ‘Sciatis quod ad petitionem dilecti nobis A. regine nostre, die coronationis nostre et
sue…’, which I hope translates as: ‘Know that at the petition of our beloved Alionore our queen on the day of our
coronation and hers’. Also on Internet Archive are Thomas Rymer’s 16 volumes of Foedera, published between
1704 and 1713; a transcription of ‘all the leagues, treaties, alliances, capitulations, and confederacies, which
have at any time been made between the Crown of England and any other kingdoms, princes and states’. One
document in volume I is Henry III’s letter to the bishop of Auxerre in 1236, informing him that he had married
Eleanor ‘on the Monday the morrow of the octave of Epiphany’ at Canterbury, and that she was crowned at
Westminster on the following Sunday (Dominica sequenti). Epiphany is 6 January (Twelfth Night) so the octave
was 13 January, and the morrow the following day, 14 January, which in 1236 was a Monday. The following
Sunday was 20 January, the date given in Matthew Paris’s Chronicles and in the Close Rolls.

So Matthew Paris was right all along. The wedding was at Canterbury on 14
January, the coronation at Westminster on 20 January, and then the nobles and
prelates headed to Merton for the great Council which agreed the Statute of
Merton on Wednesday 23 January. The Statute, which is more correctly entitled
the Provisions of Merton, begins: ‘It was Provided in the Court of our Lord the
King, holden at Merton on Wednesday the Morrow after the Feast of St Vincent,
the 20th year of the Reign of King Henry the Son of King John, before William
Archbishop of Canterbury, and other his Bishops and Suffragans and before the
greater part of the Earls and Barons of England there being assembled, for the
Coronation of the said King, and Hellianor the Queen, about which they were
all called; where it was treated for the Commonwealth of the Realm upon the
Articles underwritten …’. It is easy to understand that people have interpreted
this as meaning that the coronation took place at Merton, but the phrase ‘there
being assembled for the Coronation … about which they were all called’, only
means that the nobles who had been summoned to the coronation at Westminster

Matthew Paris’s sketch of Henry
moved on to Merton straight afterwards. The Close Rolls show that Henry was at III and Eleanor in the margin of his

Merton from Monday 21 January to 28 January, and at Guildford by 30 January. chronicle, from BL Royal 14 C. vii

Matthew Paris mentions the flooding immediately after his detailed description of the coronation, before he
discusses the Council at Merton, but he dates the Westminster flood to February: ‘About the same time, for two

months and more, namely, in January, February, and part of March, such deluges of rain fell as had never been
seen before in the memory of any one. About the feast of St Scholastica [10 February], when the moon was new,
the sea became so swollen by the river torrents which fell into it, that all the rivers, especially those which fell

into the sea, rendered the fords impassable, overflowing their banks, hiding the bridges from sight, carrying away

mills and dams, and overwhelming the cultivated lands, crops, meadows, and marshes. Amongst other unusual

occurrences, the river Thames overflowed its usual bounds, and entered the grand palace at Westminster, where
it spread and covered the whole area, so that small boats could float there, and people went to their apartments
on horseback. The water also forcing its way into the cellars could with difficulty be drained off.’ [Matthew

Paris’s English History trans. J A Giles I (London: Bohn 1852) pp.10-11]


DAVID HAUNTON has quarried a website archive:

Following Ken Gibbons graphic reminiscences of his times as an evacuee, I was led to the BBC website,1 which
holds a collection of Second World War memories recorded between late 2003 and early 2006. ‘WW2 People’s
War’ is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC.
The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar.

Here are the stories from our area, all from people who were children during the war, none older than fourteen
in these memories. Few are complete with a home address and an evacuation address; some people give no
surname: one (‘Miss X’) gives no name at all. Some give their age at the start of the war, from which I have
estimated their age at the time of their tales.

Apprehension in 1939 (and 1938)

Eileen Bicknell lived near Swaffield Road in Earlsfield. In 1938, as Chamberlain flew to Munich, she was sent

to Wiltshire with two cousins, to stay with her aunt’s sister. The crisis passed, and she was back home a week
later. But in 1939, as it became obvious that war was inevitable, she was sent again to Wiltshire; this time for
three months, but she came home for Christmas and stayed home. [see 1940 below]

Official evacuations started a day or two before the war began, though evidently most evacuees returned quite

soon. Among the children who were sent on these organised journeys was Martin Berner, 4 Arundel Avenue,

Morden, who was evacuated aged 12 but returned for holidays until 1941, when he finished school and started

Derek (8) and Mavis (5) [surname unknown] were evacuated from East Dulwich to Ashtead, Surrey. Surprisingly,

neither have any recollection of leaving Dulwich, but the latter part of the day is a significant memory. Mavis

was still in the mixed infants part of Dulwich Hamlet School but the older Derek was in the all-boy section. Their
parents arranged for them to go together with the boys’ party: ‘Mavis was the only girl; she recalls mother saying
that we must make sure we are kept together. We both remember gathering in the hall at Ashtead waiting to be

assigned to our billets. And we waited a long time! – to the very last, presumably because there was difficulty

in placing a “mixed pair”. Eventually, quite late in the evening, we were taken with our bar of chocolate and
brown bag of biscuits to the Leg of Mutton and Cauliflower Hotel.’2 For the next year, they were reasonably
happy, though often left to their own devices. Meanwhile their parents had moved to Morden, a bus ride of ten
miles or so from Ashtead, and retrieved Derek and Mavis in September 1940. ‘My mother said that she had to
scrub us for days to get us clean!’

Derek Weeks (8), Streatham, was evacuated to Eastbourne, Sussex, with his mother and one year old sister.
They lived in one room, with father visiting occasionally. ‘It wasn’t a very happy time, with my mother often
in tears at the conditions we were living in, the three of us huddled together in that one tiny room. This soon
made us return to London.’ Derek was evacuated again, by train from Paddington, to the picturesque village of
Bishops Hull, just outside Taunton, Somerset. ‘All the new evacuee arrivals were ushered into the local village
hall to be fostered to local families. I was lucky to be fostered together with Charlie G from Tooting, a friend
I had made on the journey. We were billeted with the local builder, whose property had all sorts of interesting
things to explore for kids of our age. I will always remember the hand grenade that was used to keep the back
door open. I came home in time for the Blitz.’ [and see below]

Jean Durrant was woken up one Sunday morning very early, her mum telling her they had to go to the country.
‘We then went to the town hall where, it seemed to me, there were hundreds of people milling about, all very
animated, mother talking to complete strangers, everyone excited. All the children were issued labels and put
onto buses with another bus for the mothers (if you had a child under two you were evacuated too). … We
wound up in Saffron Waldon, Essex, and my mother, sisters and I were very lucky as we ended up in the whole

top floor, the former nursery, of a large beautiful house. The people who owned it were a very kindly elderly

couple, the husband a doctor of music. … We went back to London at the beginning of November to live with

our great aunt in Wimbledon.’
William Henry Ives (7) lived in Colliers Wood. He was evacuated, along with most of Singlegate School,
complete with a name tag, gas mask and a small case of clothes. They took a bus to Wimbledon station, a train
to Haslemere and a coach to the village of Lurgashall near Petworth, Sussex. Mr & Mrs Coombes, a gamekeeper
and his wife, took William and another boy into their small cottage on Upper Barn Farm. After a year with the
Coombes he went to stay in a bungalow with Mr & Mrs Percy Lillywhite (who was a pigman for a farmer).
William returned to London in 1941.


A few children were evacuated ‘privately’, such as Pamela [surname unknown],who recalled ‘when the war
started, father panicked and wanted to get the family away – four children from six weeks to seven years old. He
packed us into his Austin 7 (the only car in our road) and drove us to Winchester, Hants, … and left us with the

WVS. They housed us … [in] one room with mattresses on the floor. When my mother noticed the [householder]

was always itching, she told Dad she couldn’t stay any longer and we were taken back to Morden’.
Alan Swan (9) lived in Merton Park. ‘My father worked for the Prudential Assurance Co. who evacuated their

Head Office staff to all corners of the country. We were very lucky to be sent to Torquay, Devon, where life until

the fall of France was very amenable. In 1942 our house was damaged, and so most of the family returned to

London, to be nearer to relatives and so that I could attend Kingston Grammar School, as School Certificate

Exams were fast approaching. We bought 14 Ruxley Lane, Ewell, as our house in Merton was let.’

The Blitz in 1940-41

A second, much less official, wave of evacuation began a year later, with the start of the Blitz in September

1940, though some people delayed until early 1941. Many children seem to have been taken by their families
to relations.

Peter Ramsey lived in Hillcross Avenue, Morden. One night, a landmine dropped on the golf course, flattening

the houses opposite and removing the tops of the houses on his side of the road. ‘Our house was declared
uninhabitable, so we moved… My two sisters and I went to stay with an aunt in Guildford, and mother and
father stayed with another aunt in Godalming.’ Desmond Langley (11) lived in Templecombe Way, Morden.
He recalled standing with his twin and their elder brother (12) on top of an Anderson air raid shelter in the

back garden watching dog fights over Croydon in 1940. ‘In 1941, because of the Blitz, we were evacuated to

Didcot, Berkshire, to live with our Granddad. It was deemed safe enough for us to return home in Spring 1944.
Then came the doodle bugs (V-1s) … a frightening time.’ Derek Weeks (now 9) was evacuated from Streatham
again, to South Wales this time, to a mining village called Pentre-bach, near Brecon. He returned home again
when the Blitz appeared to be over. Ronald Portway, Merton, had just left school and was working in a factory
when his mother and sister were evacuated, because of the bombing. ‘So there I was, all on my own, aged 14,
and I soon learned to be self-reliant.’

Miss X lived near the Board Mills, Merton. When she was two years old, she was evacuated with her mother
‘somewhere on Salisbury Plain. My mother hated the countryside, especially when she had to empty the chamber
pots over the garden wall and hadn’t learnt that the wind direction had to be taken into account. Hitler’s bombs
were easier to face than this and she decided to come home’ [and see 1944]. Mr Ebdy insisted his pregnant
wife and their daughter Jacqueline be evacuated to Redruth, Cornwall. ‘The cottage where we stayed was quite
primitive, only a cold water tap and NO bathroom. A little while after [the child was born] my mother insisted
that we all return home to Morden, even though a few bombs were still falling in the area.’

One of the worst incidents near Eileen Bicknell’s home, near Swaffield Street, Earlsfield, was a direct hit on an

Anderson Shelter at the corner of Bassingham Road, almost opposite the School. After this incident, her father
insisted that she and her mother be evacuated and telegraphed to her aunt’s Wiltshire cousin: all the country-folk
were on standby to receive them. As they left, a delayed-action bomb fell in Brocklebank Road.

Albert Dunning lived in Fortescue Road, Colliers Wood, with his parents, grandmother, three brothers and twin
sister. In November 1940 (Albert was 4) ‘we were evacuated to Somerset. I went with my mother, two brothers
and sister, while grandmother stayed at home to look after Dad and my eldest brother. We were billetted in
a cottage in Twinhoe, very rural, but because there were no schools nearby, we were moved to the village of
Wellow, where the family did not treat us very well. We all lived in one room with bare boards, old boxes for
chairs and slept in the loft, five of us in one bed. The billeting officer moved us yet again, to rooms above the
stables in the grounds of a rather grand house, owned by the Hanbury family (of Cow & Gate Foods). I started
school in the village in 1941, but in early 1942 mother brought us all back home.’
Strangely, there were even one or two ‘reverse evacuations’, with Morden seen as a relatively safe area,
compared to the East End and other parts of London suffering under heavy bombing. Ronald Weeden was
only six when in 1939 he was evacuated from the East End of London to Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. ‘I
didn’t see the sea. … I tried to get back home, I kept doing a bunk. I managed eventually to get home.’ But
on Saturday 7 September 1940 East Ham was bombed, and Latham Road School was hit, just opposite his
house. People were told to leave, and go to relatives in the country if they had them. ‘We didn’t, but the firm
my dad worked for had a branch in Wandsworth, so we all got on the Underground in East Ham, and took the
District line through to Wimbledon… After a couple of days [in digs], we actually found a whole house to rent
in Monkleigh Road, Morden.’


George Gillingham (10) lived in Finsbury before being evacuated for two years to Luton where he was fostered
by Mrs Eyere at 32 Chilton Rise. Then in 1944 his father decided that the family should move to Morden. Dave
Wilgoss was two when in 1940 his family moved from the shadow of Fulham Power Station, which was a target
for bombers, to Merton Road, Wandsworth. Raymond Massart’s family lived in Brixton for some time where
they experienced intense bombing. They then moved to stay with his mother’s sister, Ivy, and her husband Bert
Lane, at 252, Lynmouth Avenue, Morden, where the raids were no less intense. Mother and children spent some
time at Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, and then all moved to 7 Manor Gardens, Merton Park.

The Doodlebugs in 1944

The 1944 V-1 Doodlebug attacks persuaded many families to leave Merton and Morden, often after experiencing

a nearby explosion. Some people used the official organisation for this evacuation, particularly those who had

been ‘bombed out’, though many seem to have used private resources to move their families. It is perhaps
understandable that, as in 1940, the fathers of bombed-out families all seem to have remained locally, to continue
their employment.

Ronald Standen’s father bought 308, Garth Road, Lower Morden, early in the war. When the V-1s began falling,
Ronald (11), his twin sister and their mother moved to Rookhope, a small hamlet near Durham, staying with an
uncle and his wife. The house was more basic than their Morden one – ‘for example, our privy was an outhouse
with a chemical toilet in it. It was often my duty to pull the inner bucket out and tip its smelly contents into the
nearby brook.’ Hearing that the Morden house had been hit3 they returned home but found it little damaged,
and ‘we soon returned to normal’.

In June 1944 Ronald Weeden (11) and his family were evacuated (his second experience) from Monkleigh
Road, to Harrogate in Yorkshire. They returned to Morden when hostilities quietened down. At Alan Swan’s

house in Ewell, the workman finished repairing the roof one Friday, and then ‘on the Sunday a flying bomb

landed a street away and blew in the front of the house.’ Over the next three days two further explosions nearby
rendered the house uninhabitable. The family went to stay with an aunt and uncle in Bristol, and moved back
to London after a few months.

The parents of Dave Wilgoss (6) decided to evacuate him and an elder brother from Merton Road, Wandsworth,
when the V-1s started. They went from the local school, ‘duly labelled’, by tram to Kings Cross and train to
Kettering, Northants, where they were billeted with an elderly couple who ‘really looked after us. We seemed
to have been away from home for years but it was only about nine months or so before our dad came to collect
us.’ On 14 July 1944, a V-1 destroyed the home of Albert Dunning (now 8) in Fortescue Road.4 ‘Luckily we
all managed to get into the Morrison shelter in the front room and this saved our lives. We stayed at the rest
centre at Mitcham Baths until the authorities decided to evacuate us again.’ This time they went to Mr & Mrs
Wheatcroft in Carlton, a suburb of Nottingham, where they stayed until the end of the war in Europe.

Miss X (6) from near the Board Mills, Merton, was evacuated on 5 July 1944. Her mother had been talking to
a neighbour about a new lot of evacuees going away and ‘she looked down at me sitting on the step and said
“Do you want to go?” I said, out of bravado I think, “Yes”.’ A couple of weeks later, eventually ‘we reached

Yorkshire and we were taken to a large house for the night. We slept in a large room on the floor and the boys

made paper planes and threw them at one another. An adult came in and told us to go to sleep.’ Next day she
went with other children in a taxi to the village of Embsay. ‘This seemed very exciting – I am sure I had never
been in a taxi until then.’ Miss X’s terraced house was virtually surrounded by factories: she was amazed at
the countryside.5 She returned home in spring 1945.

After their house was badly damaged, Philip Wheeler (4) moved with his mother and sister to a rented cottage
about two miles from Wem, Shropshire, where his mother had been born. On 29 June 1944, the house of
Beresford Ian Campbell in Wimbledon was wrecked by a doodlebug explosion.6 ‘Mother … heard that Ridgway
School in Wimbledon village was evacuating to Appleby-in-Westmorland … the school agreed to take me at
the tender age of three.’ His parents took him by train and taxi to a large Victorian country house. ‘School
was a shock [but] I was something of a school mascot. After a few months, mother .. sent my father to bring

me home.’ Margaret Hobbs lived at19, Springfield Avenue, Merton Park, and as the buzz bombs kept coming

‘Mum and Dad decided to send [brother] Michael and I to stay with Granny in the country at Ramsey in Essex.
Within weeks, the buzz bombs were coming over Essex,7 so Mum and Dad came by coach to bring us back.’


The map shows the approximate location of the places mentioned. The heavy concentration in the south is

noticeable, amounting to 16 of the 28 places. It seems that, for the 1939 official evacuation, if you lived south


of the River Thames then you were put on a southbound train (ie. one from Waterloo, Victoria, Blackfriars or
London Bridge); if north of the river then onto a train to the Midlands or the North. This avoided moving a large

number of people across the city in a day, with the potential traffic congestion and delay.

Most destinations are of course villages and small towns, and it is quite surprising to see that people were
directed to large manufacturing towns such as Bristol and Nottingham, which must surely have been expected
to become targets for enemy bombs. It is positively startling to see Eastbourne and Lurgashall, both in Sussex,

as official destinations in September 1939. Being so near the potential ‘invasion coast’, would they have been

considered, let alone selected, in September 1940?

1 My thanks to Bert Sweet, who called my attention to a print-out of Albert Dunning’s story that he found in the Heritage and Local Studies Centre

in Morden Library.
2 Still there, at 48 The Street, Ashtead, though there are recent attempts to shrink the name to LOMAC.
3 This is no.25 on the list in Bulletin 177, p.13 and fell on 28 July 1944.
4 This is the same one described by Bert Sweet in Bulletin 173, p.12: it is no.31 on the list in Bulletin 174, p.13.
5 As well she might be – Embsay is on the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
6 Norman Plastow Safe as Houses (1972, revised 1994) p.80
7 This implies that the children were not sent away until August 1944.

RAHECWKDLSWPSRBWSMTWWSPBHRTWLGGAEDestinations are shown by initial letters, Merton by the circled cross
Letters and contributions for the Bulletin should be sent to the Hon. Editor. The views expressed in this
Bulletin are those of the contributors concerned and not necessarily those of the Society or its Officers.
website: www.mertonhistoricalsociety.org.uk email: mhs@mertonhistoricalsociety.org.uk

Printed by Peter Hopkins