June 2021 – Bulletin 218
Coralie Glyn’s mythical descendant – Clive Whichelow
Varnish, paint, shingle: the Hadfield’s firms (part 1) – Hadfield family
The Chilmans of Merton – Peter Maggs
The hutted camp on Bushey Road – Mike Strange
Surrey church bell ringers serving in the First World War – David Underdown
and much more
VICE PRESIDENT: Judith Goodman
CHAIR: Keith Penny
BULLETIN No. 218 JUNE 2021
Stall Risers old (photo Norma Cox) and new (photo Dave Haunton). See page 15.
Message from the Chairman 2
A Virtual Programme Summer 2021 2
Merton Heritage Centre reopening 3
Your Committee – Dave Haunton 4
Coralie Glyn’s mythical descendant – Clive Whichelow 5
Drug stores and railway stations – Norma Cox 5
Archaeological results, Borough of Merton 2019 5
Varnish, paint, shingle: the Hadfield’s firms (part 1) – Hadfield family
The Chilmans of Merton – Peter Maggs 10
The hutted camp on Bushey Road – Mike Strange 12
Surrey church bell ringers serving in the First World War – David Underdown 13
The Light Ages, Book Review – Katie Hawks 14
Virtual Workshop: Stall Risers, Odd Entries, Holborn Union Workhouse, Surrey Iron Railway,
Ejecter Opinions, Strange Stone in Mitcham, Thorow-wax 15
MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN
As I write, the sun is delivering lovely warmth, until you go out into the breeze that delivers an equally
chilling reminder that this is not an average May. So, to follow the comparison, we have prepared for MHS
an autumn programme of talks (the warming bit) but we cannot be completely certain that regulations will
permit them to start on schedule; in particular, we do not know when churches will be allowed to restart
hiring out their halls. Assuming that the regulatory breeze does not grow cooler by August, details of talks
will appear in the September Bulletin. It is possible that a late summer walk or visit may be arranged, and,
if so, details will be sent out by email – but see below!
I should like to thank all who offered feedback and responded to the request for approval of some Annual
Many who replied picked out our quarterly
Bulletin for praise, very encouraging news for
our editor and printer. One curious statistic from the exercise was that, proportionately, a lot more of those
members who were sent papers by post responded than did those who were sent papers by email: we have
been wondering if our efforts to use email to communicate are failing. Perhaps messages have gone straight
into spam folders, or just gone to the back of the queue for answers. You will read inside this edition an
article about the Society’s Committee: I will not repeat what it says, except to say that talks in a hall
need people to take on the responsibility of setting them up – the chairs, the projector and other electrical
equipment – and this has become the province of a very small core of Committee members.
So, look forward to a sunnier prospect of normality, but that ‘normality’will need renewal as the months pass.
A VIRTUAL PROGRAMME SUMMER 2021
While we are unable to have meetings we are suggesting a
LINK OF THE MONTH to some online videos.
These links will be displayed on the Home page of our website each month:
SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR SUMMER STROLLS
Weather and Covid restrictions permitting, why not explore some of
Sarah Gould’s guided heritage trails.
Download the free app to your mobile phone and walk the trails
or watch from the comfort of home – https://izi.travel/en/search/merton
You can generate your own local walks at www.treetalk.co.uk
which will identify the public trees along your selected route, some of which are less common
than you might expect.
BUT if the weather is not such as to tempt you outdoors
here are a couple of options to be enjoyed from the comfort of your computer screen:
A British Countryside documentary on National Trust properties,
Britain’s Treasures From The Air,
one of many free online videos from the Timeline Channel
Virtual Museum tours and exhibitions:
(from a virtual recreation of The Lost Collection of Charles I at Whitehall Palace
to the Saatchi Gallery Tutankhamun exhibition 2020)
Note that our Local History Workshops will not be held for the time being, but
please send any items of interest to the Editor for inclusion in our Virtual Workshops.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 218 – JUNE 2021 – PAGE 2
MERTON HERITAGE CENTRE REOPENING
SARAH GOULD writes:
Merton Libraries and the Heritage Centre have now moved to the next stage of our Covid Recovery plan.
This means that Libraries are open for browsing access, limited to 30 minutes per day per customer; click
and collect book orders; pre-booked IT
sessions; and a limited range of access to junior libraries for family
groups. For details of this and current opening hours, see: https://libraries.merton.gov.uk and click on News
Public toilets, seating and study space are not currently available. The following systems are in place:
Face masks must be worn throughout the library, unless medically exempt. Masks can be provided if customers
do not have one with them.
♦ Social distancing must be maintained.
♦ Aone way system is operating – upward travel via the central staircase. Lift access is limited to 2 people at
one time, or one household/support bubble (using the lift without other customers).
♦ Downward travel/exit is via the fire exit staircase, or lift (in accordance with the above guidelines).
♦ Hand sanitiser is available on all floors of the library.
♦ Additional cleaning is being undertaken to keep customers safe.
♦ Customers are encouraged to use the track and trace system -using the NHS QR code on show at the library
or by providing contact details to staff on the ground floor.
♦ We are required to adhere to restrictions on the number of people accessing each floor at any one time.
Merton Heritage Centre
♦ The same access, cleaning and safety arrangements apply as shown above.
♦ The Centre is open for 30 minute browsing sessions only.
There is currently no seating, study or research space in use -this will be reviewed in line with the Government
Road Map and public health advice.
♦ Our microfiche/film readers and audiovisual equipment is also out of use in the interests of covid safety.
♦ We can provide limited access to historic maps within the 30 minute browsing limit.
♦ We are not currently selling local history books on site, however postal orders can be arranged.
can be provided on site – these will be done by heritage staff and the fee can be added to a
user account for payment using the Libraries App or self service machines. Cash handling is being kept to
a minimum both in the library and Heritage Centre but we can take cash payments if required.
♦ Heritage staff are happy to answer local history enquiries by phone, email or letter. Tel. 020 8545 3239 or
email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
♦ We are adding a range of material to our new Merton Heritage and Local Studies Youtube channel
♦ We are providing more events and activities via zoom -all events will be promoted via Libraries, the Merton
Memories website, social media, local media and Eventbrite.
♦ All book returns or books/maps handled on site must be quarantined for 72 hours.
Should you have any queries, please feel free to contact us.
The Editor was amused by:
AUTO-GENERATED SUBTITLE MYSTERIES
from a conference reported in
Current Archaeology 374 (May 2021). Can you supply the correct
interpretations? (see page 12)
(1) that well-known monument Hatred’s War
(2)A site previously excavated by philanderers from basic archaeology
(3) Bronze Age animations in a wheelchair
(4) the Ness of Brodgar’s monumental midden was not just a rubber sheep
(5) that celebrated archaeologist Watermelon Wheeler
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 218 – JUNE 2021 – PAGE 3
DAVE HAUNTON attempts some amateur recruiting for:
Committee meetings normally occur only six or seven times a year. Two members have recently resigned, so we
are in danger of becoming inquorate. During the Members’Consultation nobody volunteered to join us, so we
wondered if giving an overview of the range of our activities for the last six months might encourage someone.
The activities below were spread among the eight Committee members, so there was not a disproportionate
load on any one person.
Membership – Rosemary Turner noted that as at 8 April, we have 144 members representing 125 households,
with a fair number of new members. These totals do not include the four people who did not renew their
subscriptions, without notifying us, who were delicately contacted by phone to ‘check they were alright’.
Finance -our Treasurer, Janet Holdsworth, has coped with the closing of our Nationwide account (due to their
commercial considerations), and has now so conquered the HSBC technology that she can bank a cheque by
photographing it on her phone, for onwards transmission.
Publications – the first draft of a new publication is normally circulated round the four or five members of the
publication sub-committee for criticism. This is followed by a second draft to acknowledge those criticisms,
and a third draft for detailed proof-reading (spelling, titles,punctuation, etc.). The full process obviously takes
both Medieval Morden: Landscape and Landholding (by Peter Hopkins) and Poor Relief in
Morden 1750-1834 (by the late Gladys Stockwell) are circulating in second draft, while Medieval Morden:
Neighbourhood and Community (Peter Hopkins again) is in first draft. Rather gratifyingly, we have been
approached by both Wimbledon Salvation Army and an amateur historian of Fry’s Foundry (which included
the Tandem works) for advice as publication ‘experts’ and possible joint publishers.
We continue to make steady sales of our publications, and we have authorised further reprints of Mitcham
Histories Colliers Wood (400 sold to date!) and Phipps Bridge.
We continue to receive a varying volume of enquiries from non-members, which we try to answer, consulting
local experts if and where possible.
Bulletin -we are concerned that the supply of articles and snippets has been drying up for some time now. The
editor pointed out that it had been something of a stretch to fill 16 pages for this issue, and that we might have
to consider a reduction to 12 pages for one or more future issues. Please write!
The Society’s Photographic Project is now formally complete, though we do still accept further suitable
photographs. We have asked our expert to mount the project index on our website in searchable form, so that
searches can yield photographic as well as documentary references.
Disposals – there were some offers of homes for a few items in the article in the March Bulletin. Non-local
postcards from Bill Rudd’s and Eric Montague’s collections have been entered for sale in a specialist auction.
Correspondence – we wrote a formal letter to the Planning Department on the Dorset Hall dilapidations,
in support of the Wimbledon Society and the Dorset Hall Group, and responded to Sarah Gould’s request to
provide input for the Merton Heritage Strategy Review.
Website – the recent search problems have been mostly overcome, thanks to our expert.
Technology – we have used Zoom software for recent Committee meetings. This has meant a change in
practice, with individual reports going to the Chairman, who circulates them as a single document before the
formal meeting. This then takes much less time than our previous ’round-table’ discussions. Result!
We are also considering the use of Zoom during future Society meetings, to allow far-flung members to join
them. Recordings of such meetings are also possible, which could then be made available to members as
private records on our website. However, to date our record of technological innovation has been uneven at
best, so we are just a little dubious, and will proceed very carefully. Is there an expert in our ranks out there
who might advise?
Please take this article as a
Clarion Call for new Committee members.
The Committee can co-opt two members at any time of the year so no need to wait until the next AGM!
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 218 – JUNE 2021 – PAGE 4
CLIVE WHICHELOW has investigated and reveals
CORALIE GLYN’S MYTHICAL DESCENDANT
There have been reports over the years that Coralie Glyn (Bulletin 217, p.4) had children, but it seems that this
is an oft-repeated error.
Apparently her ex-husband, Henry Lister Beaumont, fathered five children and put Coralie’s name as mother
on the birth certificates for four of them, all born between 1898 and 1906. It is highly unlikely that Coralie was
the mother, as she had filed for divorce in 1890 after just a year-long unhappy marriage and seems to have had
nothing more to do with Henry after that. The birth certificate deceit was possible as only a single informant
was required to attend a Register Office to register a birth, and presumably for these births Henry acted alone,
without involving the true mother (or mothers).
The story arose from Janet Patricia Bolus, who, late in life, claimed to be a grand-daughter of Coralie. She was
in fact a grand-daughter of Henry Lister Beaumont. He and his alleged wife Rose Adelaide Willin registered
the birth of their daughter Grace Adelaide Beaumont, born 27 February 1902, in East Dulwich, Surrey. Grace
was noted in the 1911 census, as fostered (with three others) by a Mrs Jones, in Midsummer Norton, Somerset.
On 27 June 1922 she married Augustus William Wade at St Martin, Colchester, Essex, and eventually died in
July 1972, in Colchester. Their daughter was Janet PatriciaWade, born c.1924, who married Martyn H Bolus
in February 1986, and died 10 June 2015, aged 90 or 91. (Martyn was a widower born in October 1930, in
Weymouth, Dorset. His late wife was Elizabeth M Levitt, whom he had married in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire,
in April 1955.)
Janet Patricia may have mis-remembered her grand-mother’s name, or, perhaps more likely, someone else
misinterpreted her family memories.
NORMA COX notes a commercial relationship
DRUG STORES AND RAILWAY STATIONS
An article in Bulletin 212, December 2019 described a drug store site in Haydons Road, initially called Noel’s
Drug Store then Stephenson’s Drug Store and finally Cobb’s Drug Store. This was close to Haydons Road
railway station. Two more drug stores were found nearby in Merton and both of these drug stores were also
very close to railway stations. The Parkes Drug Store at 14 Wimbledon Hill Road was across the road from
Wimbledon station, while the Coopers Drug Store (later renamed Harry Coopers Drug Store) in Kingston
Road was very close to Merton Park railway station. The increased footfall of railway commuters along these
roads would have meant a greater chance of sales for the stores.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESULTS, BOROUGH OF MERTON 2019
Extracted from the London Fieldwork and Publication Round-Up 2019, London Archaeologist, Vol.16
Supplement 1 (2020)
Adig at Wilson Hospital, Cranmer Road, Mitcham, found brick walls from part of the original 17th-century
mansion house, and later extensions, and rubble from the 1926 demolition.
Merton Priory Precinct Wall, 1 Merton High Street – a dig at the section that collapsed in 2012 revealed
stepped footings made from a randomly laid, roughly shaped amount of flint, chalk and Reigate stone blocks,
dry-laid or poorly bonded with a yellow sandy mortar. One trial pit showed a foundation cut for the footings,
filled with loose gravel similar to the foundation pads seen previously at 101 Christchurch Road.
Ravensbury Estate first phase, on the site of the calico works at Ravensbury Mill – a small dig recorded
brick structures, of the late 18th and 19th centuries, including dye furnaces, a culvert or drain, washrooms or
tanks, and a wheel pit.
52-54 Wandle Bank and 64-68 & 72 East Road, Colliers Wood, a single drainage (?) ditch truncated by a
post-medieval pit was found. The very miscellaneous finds include lithics, Roman pottery fragments, post-
medieval pottery, ceramic brick or tile, glass, industrial residues, plant remains and animal bones, which give
no firm date for the feature.
No useful historical results were observed from watching briefs on works at the Baitul Futuh Mosque, 181
London Road, Morden, at Sunnyside, Oldfield Road, Wimbledon, and at Wimbledon Park Lake, Wimbledon
Park, or from a geo-archaeological evaluation at Ravensbury Estate, Ravensbury Grove, Mitcham.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 218 – JUNE 2021 – PAGE 5
A study from family history:
VARNISH, PAINT, SHINGLE: THE HADFIELD’S FIRMS (PART 1)
This tale of several local firms is based on the Hadfield family history, compiled by various family members,
of which a copy has been kindly supplied by Mr Peter Edward Hadfield. [Further information added by DH is
shown in square brackets.] The story implies the strength of family tradition in 19th-century industry, and it
becomes obvious that some of the Hadfields were very well off indeed.
Our story starts far away with George Hadfield (I) (1760 -1830) who was a partner in the hat-making business
of Thomas & Henry Henshaw of Oldham, Manchester. The business used a process which required varnish to
fix the dyed rabbit fur onto a canvas base. George lived at Failsworth Lodge [a rather grand house that is now
the Lancaster Sports And Social Club, Broadway, Failsworth, Oldham, Greater Manchester].
His son, George Hadfield (II) (1817 – 1881), was born in Oldham, into a strongly Wesleyan family. Aged
sixteen he was apprenticed to William Braddock, an Oldham chemist and druggist. He then worked as a
varnish manufacturer in Manchester, in Seacombe on the Wirral, and in Haltwhistle (near Carlisle), both for
himself and for others, at a time when varnish making was a craft passed down from father to son. In 1869 he
went to Paris, leaving his son George (III) to continue the Carlisle business. Although his varnish was well
regarded, he found the French to be poor payers. However, in about 1870 he patented the use of ‘Terebine'[a
blend of metallic driers to speed up the drying of conventional oil based paints, stains and varnishes during
cold weather] with a Mr Powers of Coventry, and made good money from it. He stayed in Paris until 1879
when his business failed. Returning to Britain to live in Highbury, London, he spent the last two years of his
life as a consultant to other varnish manufacturers.
George Hadfield (III) (1841 – 1900) was born in Manchester and brought up as a Quaker. Aged seventeen,
he joined his father’s varnish works at Carlisle, and after George (II) moved to Paris he carried on with the
Carlisle business. He moved to north London in 1878, because the Southgate business of his cousins, Sam
and John, was having difficulties. (Varnish maker Sam had decided to move to Bristol, leaving salesman John
with no production.) In Southgate, George (III) made varnish for sale by ‘Hadfield Bros’and in his own right,
apparently successfully, as the 1881 census shows that he was then employing seventeen men and two boys.
Despite George’s excellent varnish, cousin John’s extravagant lifestyle and neglect of his sales role brought
Hadfield Bros to bankruptcy in 1885, so George had to find new premises for his own business.
George contracted to build a new plant in Mitcham to manufacture varnish for paint manufacturers Farmiloes.
[Mitchamhistorynotes.com says that this firm made paint at Rochester Row, Westminster, and Nine Elms Lane:
their establishment in Batsworth Road was Mitcham Varnish Works.] Varnish making was still a separate
craft industry to paint making, which was easier technically. The seven-year agreement allowed George to
sell varnish in his own name. In 1886 George moved his family south to Mitcham, staying for 18 months with
his mother-in-law at ‘Lyndhurst’, Mulgrave Road, Sutton. In 1888, the family moved into their own home at
‘Meadowcroft’, Cedar Road, Sutton.
When the agreement with Farmiloes came to an end in 1892, it was not renewed, and George rented land at
Phipps Bridge from Paul Addington, a manufacturer of specialist black varnish for coaches, where he built his
own works. George was in his early fifties by now, and his health had started to deteriorate. Now with eight
children, ‘Meadowcroft’was too small, so the family moved to a much larger house, ‘The Lookout’, Kingston
Road, Merton. His eldest son Hugh joined the business full time on matriculating, aged sixteen, in 1896,
followed a year later by another son, Sam.
George (III) was very keen that his children had a good education. He was religious, observing Sundays
strictly, engaging in Bible Study and supporting Christian missionary work with enthusiasm. He took the
family on regular holidays to the seaside and encouraged his children in their musical and sporting activities.
His weakness was a preference for the science and manufacture of varnish over the keeping of detailed financial
records, which bored him. He never fell into debt, but he had a few close shaves along the way. After his death,
a newly appointed accountantwas able to recover substantial income tax overpayments, since George relied on
the Tax Inspector each year to make an assessment of his income which he never challenged.
(George (IV)) Hugh Hadfield and Change
Hugh was the third child of George (III) Hadfield, but the eldest of those who survived to adulthood. He was
born at Alpine House, Chase Side, Southgate in 1880, and attended Sutton Park School in Worcester Gardens,
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 218 – JUNE 2021 – PAGE 6
very close to home, after the move to Sutton. By the age of fourteen he was ready for the matriculation exam,
but since the minimum age of entry was sixteen, he had to wait another two years. He continued his studies
part time, but worked alongside his father at the new works at Phipps Bridge, learning the craft and business.
He passed the matriculation exam with honours, and then, his formal education complete by the standards of
the era, he joined his father full time in the family business. He was known as Hugh, although as an adult he
signed himself George
George (III)’s second wife Emily was five years younger than him, having met him at a Bible Study Group
in Sutton. When George died, she inherited the business, since son Hugh had not quite come of age. She took
advice from her sister’s husband, Jack Myers, the son of a wealthy diamond merchant, with, unfortunately, no
great business acumen. He advised Emily on how to proceed, with no consultation with Hugh or Sam. This
irritated them, since they had been working full time in the business for four and three years respectively, as
their father’s health deteriorated. Jack recommended that Hugh and Sam should carry on with the business,
that they should each be paid £75 per annum from the business, and that Emily should receive the balance so
she could continue to raise the remaining six children. This was a pittance for the boys, since their father had
been making about £1200 per annum from the business at the time of his death.
One of the first steps Hugh and Sam took on taking over the firm in 1900 was to introduce paid holidays for
the workforce. If a man had done twelve months work, he was granted three weekdays holidays, taken at the
beginning of the week. He was also allowed to have the previous Saturday off, giving him five clear days
without work. In addition, he was given a present of half a week’s wages to enable him to take his wife and
family to the seaside. For every extra year of service he was granted another day until he reached the maximum
of ten days holiday with pay. This does not appear very generous to modern eyes, but was very much so in
1900, when workers attendedfor eight hours a day, five and a half days a week, all year round, except perhaps
for an annual ‘beanfeast’.
1905 was a key year for Hugh and Sam, because business was going well, and they were able to buy the firm
from their mother. Their younger brother Norman reached the age of sixteen, completed his education and
joined the firm, while a year later Roy joined as well. In 1907, Paul Addington wanted to retire from varnish
making, and sold the freehold of the Phipps Bridge works, and the house he had lived in next door, to Hugh
and Sam, substantially increasing the capital value of the business.
Hugh married Jean Duncan Scott, daughter of a high class draper, at the Presbyterian Chapel, Fisher Street,
Carlisle, on 30 October 1909. He was 29 and she 23. Their first home was 10 Mitcham Park, Mitcham, a
modest semi-detached house. It was not too small, however, for them to have a resident servant, Jessie Watson,
only a year younger than Jean Duncan.
Hugh became friendly with the architect John Sydney Brocklesby, so, needing more room for his growing
family, and making steady profits from the firm, in 1913 he commissioned a new house to be built by Brocklesby
at 29 Mostyn Road, Merton, in the Arts & Crafts style. The house was named ‘Greystones’, after the area close
to where Jean had been brought up in Carlisle, while the garden was designed and planted by Gertrude Jekyll.
On 9 March 1914 a fire broke out at the Phipps Bridge factory. The local Fire Brigade was called to attend, and
the damage was confined to a small area of the works. Hugh wrote to the Chairman of the Fire Committee of
Mitcham Parish Council the next day to thank them for their prompt response and fine actions.
First World War – Varnish & Paint
When War was declared on 28 July 1914, it had an immediate impact on the business. Paint and varnish were
crucial to the war effort, and demand rose. The fire damage to the works had not been repaired when hostilities
broke out, and new building was prohibited, limiting production, so many potential contracts had to be turned
down. The brothers started a search for additional premises.
[There were a half dozen paint and varnish works in Western Road, Mitcham, in the 1840s. They became 30
by 1900, by which date the area had become the centre of London’s paint and varnish industry.] In 1915, the
factory of a German paint manufacturer, Charles H Blume, at 131-3 Western Road, Mitcham, was confiscated
under the ‘Trading with the Enemy’Act, and was put up for auction by the Public Trustee as a going concern, to
include the land, buildings, plant and goodwill. An uncle of Hugh’s wife Jean, Sir Peter McClelland, was now
keeping an eye on his niece’s affairs, and became involved. The brothers evaluated the possibility of acquiring
the business and put the maximum value that they were prepared to pay for it at £12,000. Sir Peter said that if
they could buy it for a maximum of £8,000, he would put up the money. In 1916, the hammer came down in
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 218 – JUNE 2021 – PAGE 7
their favour at £5,600, a bargain price, securing not only larger premises, but also a significant workforce and
additional customer accounts (circled on map below, Phipps Bridge left, Western Road right). Also in 1916,
Hugh’s wife bore him a son, whom they baptised Peter McClelland.
The deal proved to be a very good one. The Treasury had imposed a tax on extra profit being made due to the
war, levying between 60 and 80% of any profit over and above pre-war levels. The purchase was offset against
this, and during the war period the taxes saved were in excess of £6,000.
The war had a dramatic effect on
the workforce. Many young men
volunteered immediately. When
conscription was introduced in
1916, more of the young male
workforce were called up. Out of
sixty-nine men who were taken
on by the firm when the Blume
business was acquired, forty went
to war. To replace the missing
men, local girls were taken on.
(right – Girls working at Phipps
Bridge in 1915)
Hugh and Sam themselves
were not called up; their being
too old (thirty-four and thirty-
three), married, and in a reserved
occupation gave them exemption. Their younger brothers felt the call to duty early on and joined up voluntarily,
increasing the workload on the two elder ones. Norman volunteered on 1 January 1915. As a practising Quaker,
he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps as a private. By the end of the war, he had been promoted to the
rank of captain, having served in Mesopotamia attached to the Machine Gun Corps. Roy volunteered on 11
November 1915, joining the Royal Naval Air Service. He did basic training at the London shore establishment
HMS President, and then served on the first Ark Royal aircraft carrier. At that time its seaplanes were launched
and recovered over the side by crane. The ship was stationed in the Mediterranean, providing reconnaissance
for troops operating in the Macedonian theatre and the Dardanelles. Roy enlisted as an Ordinary Seaman, and
ended the war as a Leading Mechanic.
Hugh spent some time making appeals for his workforce to the local Conscription Tribunal in 1916/17. (See
also MHS booklet JUSTICE TO MEN AND COUNTRY: The Mitcham Military Tribunal, 1916-1918 (2017)
by Keith Penny.) The Tribunal minutes record the following three entries:
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 218 – JUNE 2021 – PAGE 8
♦ Messrs. G. Hadfield and Co., varnish makers, applied for the exemption of eight men. Mr. Hadfield said the
appeals were on behalf of men formerly employed by Blume, a German firm, wound up by the Board of
Trade under the Trading with the Enemy Act. Messrs. Hadfield purchased the business because they wished
for increased facilities to carry on their work, 80 per cent of which was connected with the war. They had
been obliged to refuse important contracts owing to their inability to execute the orders, but with the new
premises they would be able to deal with them. At the same time they would be capturing trade hitherto
held by Germans. It would be rather hard for the Board of Trade to sell them a business and then have the
men taken away. Varying terms of exemption were granted to four men. The claims in respect of three were
disallowed, and the eighth man was on a technical point referred to Croydon
♦ Messrs. Hadfields, Ltd., appealed for their man, Mr. J. W. Garrett. They had taken over a German varnish
factory. Three months’ extension.
♦ Mr. A. Hookins, 24, was a packer, employed by Mr. G. Hadfield, and only passed C2 (only fit for Home
service). As a skilled man and indispensable he was given conditional exemption.
At this time there appears to have been a great deal of interchange between the numerous varnish and paint
manufacturers in Merton and Mitcham, possibly because they were mostly small concerns making specialist
products. If they did not make what one of their customers wanted, they simply bought it from a company that
did and re-branded it. To date, Hadfields had supplied mainly wholesale customers. In 1916 one such customer
(possibly Foster, Mason & Harvey, another Mitcham paint manufacturer), who bought about a quarter of all
Hadfields’production, gave notice that he would manufacture all he needed himself. As a result the decision
was made to concentrate on retail rather than wholesale customers. This involved much greater effort in sales,
but paid off as profits steadily grew.
Hadfields (Merton) Ltd
In 1917, Hugh and Sam decided to consolidate the Phipps Bridge business and the company formed to take
over the Charles H Blume concern, into a new limited company. Thus Hadfields (Merton) Limited was born.
Surrey History Centre records that ‘Hadfields (Merton) Ltd, were formed in 1917 to act as manufacturers of,
or wholesale or retail dealers in, varnish, japans, enamels, colours, oils, paints, pigments, cements, dye wares
and other such, and particularly to acquire the businesses of varnish, paint and enamel manufacturers carried
on under the name of George Hadfield, Phipps Bridge, Merton, and George Hadfield (successor to C H Blume),
Western Road, Mitcham. These businesses were conveyed to the company by George Hugh Hadfield and
Samuel Rogers Hadfield, both of whom were directors. The Merton company claimed to have been trading
since 1840 (on a letterhead seen at the depositor’s office), and it appears that George Hadfield, father of George
Hugh and Samuel Rogers, had purchased Paul Addington’s varnish works at Phipps Bridge in 1892. Addington
was certainly already working there in 1851.'[Addington’s house remained there until 1969, being used as the
works canteen by Hadfields.]
Hugh was very intelligent, imaginative and inventive; between September 1916 and November 1918 he
submitted no less than nine applications for patents, concerning technical issues that he had been faced with at
work. The first was for treatments of decorative surfaces, the remainder were to do with coating the insides of
porous vessels, containers, boxes and cardboard tubes in order for them to retain and preserve their intended
At the end of the war, the men who had served in the armedforces were demobilised and returned home. Both
Roy and Norman re-joined the firm. However, in 1920/21 Hugh, aged forty, resigned from the business he had
joined aged fourteen. The reason for this dramatic course of action may never be known, but one possibility
is that differences arose between the two elder brothers, Hugh and Sam, and their two younger siblings, Roy
and Norman. Hugh had been the head of the family for twenty years since his father died, and had taken this
responsibility very seriously. He had worked in the business full time for twenty four years, and for twenty of
those years he had been the man in charge.
WANDLE ART FESTIVAL
The Wandle Industrial Museum is hoping to hold a two-day exhibition of art over the weekend of
July 2021. They are inviting painters, photographers and anyone who works in other art media to
join them for the Wandle Art Festival. This is an opportunity for such artists to showcase their work. Whilst
the exhibition is based upon the River Wandle, its people and industries, the festival will not be exclusive to
the Wandle. It will take place outside the Museum, not inside. Hoping, of course, for good weather!
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 218 – JUNE 2021 – PAGE 9
PETER MAGGS reveals some family skeletons among:
THE CHILMANS OF MERTON
People from well-regulated families generally have two parents, four grandparents and eight great-grandparents.
My father only had six great-grandparents, because his grandmothers were sisters, and consequently his
mother and father were first cousins. Since these antecedents are somewhat over-represented in my genetic
profile, I have developed a keen interest in their history. [There might have been a family tree here, but the
Editor decided it was too big.]
The grandmothers in question – Harriet Elizabeth, and Alice Louisa Chilman -grew up with four other sisters
in Merton, living for some time at 4 Church Row (now 21 Church Lane). Their parents’lives had not been
without trauma. The girls’mother was Jane Elizabeth Brookson, born in 1843 in Merton Rush. Jane’s mother,
Mary Ann Holmes, died in the 1849 cholera outbreak leaving Jane’s father, Joseph Brookson, a labourer, with
five children under the age of eight to support. Jane, as the oldest girl, albeit she was still only six, no doubt
had some quick growing-up to do.
When Jane was twenty she married James Chilman junior, a bricklayer, from Sutton. James’s mother was Ann
Hatch, who had had a very interesting history. By the time she married James’s father, James Chilman senior,
in 1839, she had already produced five illegitimate children, father(s) unknown. After the birth of her first
child (who died in infancy), Ann spent some time in the Reigate Workhouse. She had a second child around
July 1831, and the baptism was, intriguingly, performed by the rector of Sutton, Henry Hatch. For some time
I wondered whether they were related; now I am fairly sure that they were not.1 James senior was a widower,
also from Sutton, whose wife Elizabeth had died in June 1826, and by whom he had had four children. Again
intriguingly, Ann Hatch’s first child was born just eighteen months after Elizabeth’s death. Nevertheless, Ann
and James senior did not get married until 1839, and James junior was born the following year. The 1841
census at Sutton reveals the provenance of the family. James junior, one year old, was living with his father
and mother, a further Ann (his father’s daughter by his first marriage), and William, Elizabeth, and Eliza, his
mother’s illegitimate children. All the children were allotted the surname ‘Chilman’, although Elizabeth and
Eliza had reverted to ‘Hatch’by the 1851 census, indicating that James senior was probably not their father.
By that time, James junior had acquired a full brother and sister, Emma and John.
Scrutiny of maps of the period shows a positive avalanche of building around Merton in the late 19th century,
particularly following the arrival of the railway, so James Chilman junior should have had plenty of work to
enable him to provide for his wife and six daughters; in descending order of age they were: Mary Ann (born
1864), Harriet Elizabeth (1866), Emma Jane (1867), Alice Louisa (1870), Agnes Annie (1872), and Martha
Sarah (1879). (There was also a son, James Joseph (1877-1878), who died in infancy.) Mary Ann and Emma
Jane were in service, so their
pay helped balance the books and their absence eased crowding in the house.
But James Chilman took to thieving, and he was not very good at it. In November 1883 he was sentenced to
twelve months in Wandsworth Prison for stealing poultry; this was the second time he had been convicted of
a similar offence. The disgrace that the family presumably
had to endure was tempered by the imperative to
generate some revenue to support themselves. Jane set up a hand laundry at 4 Church Row and the girls were
put to work. My father related that his great aunt Martha remembered that her life revolved around ironing
and folding sheets.
James may have returned to the family home after his release from prison, but by 1891 he had left for good.
However the family were not finished with difficulty; in 1885, Mary Ann gave birth to an illegitimate boy.
Family chit-chat (Alice Louisa’s daughter, my grandmother) claimed that local philanthropist John Innes was
responsible – he lived close by and Mary Ann may have worked for him as a domestic. I was able to track
down the spurious child via the 1901 census, and found that Mary Ann had named him James Edward Spinks
Chilman. From the name I was able to deduce that the likely father was a local man, Edward Spinks. This
story was published in a family history magazine, and some years later I was contacted by the descendants of
James Edward Chilman, who had found a positive DNAmatch with a descendant of Edward Spinks (so the
deduction was correct!).2
Gradually the sisters got married off, the ‘sins’
of their errant father and sister notwithstanding, and mostly
joined the Merton diaspora. Emma Jane married a gardener, Tom White in 1889, and they moved to Limpsfield
in Surrey. In 1890, my great-grandmother, Harriet Elizabeth, married Frank Maggs, a council worker, son of a
Wiltshire shepherd from Salisbury Plain near Stonehenge. After some time in Weymouth, they moved to Ealing.
Their son, Ernie Maggs was my grandfather; he was a shop-manager who worked for the Maypole Dairy, and
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 218 – JUNE 2021 – PAGE 10
served on HMS Canada during the Battle of Jutland. In 1894, my other great-grandmother, Alice Louisa, married
William Martin, also a gardener. Their daughter Gwendoline, born in Chingford in Essex, was my grandmother,
and married Ernie Maggs. Agnes Annie married William Stilwell in 1896. He worked on the railways and they
moved to Southampton. Martha Sarah married George Amor, a coalman – also from Wiltshire -in 1902. In 1939
she was living at 19 Church Path, renamed and renumbered, and previously 3 Church Row, next door to the
original family home. Mary Ann, the eldest of the girls, finally got married in 1906. Her husband was Edward
Haslam, a house painter; initially they lived in Nelson Grove Road in Merton. The 1911 census shows Mary Ann
in service as a live-in cook in Wimbledon. Two years later she died at the age of only 49 in the Nelson Hospital,
the same year that her father, James Chilman junior, died in the Epsom Union workhouse.
My father started investigating the family history in the 1950s when it was very much more difficult than it
is today. Having discovered, as he thought, that a page was missing from one of the parish registers, he was
convinced for a time that Merton’s most famous sometime resident, Admiral Viscount Lord Nelson, might
have been ‘involved’with one of the Chilman or Brookson ancestors. Considering the circles Nelson moved
in-and with Emma Hamilton to hand -a relationship with gardeners’families seems remotely unlikely. Father
knew his grandmothers and several of his great aunts, and even met their mother when she was a very old
lady and he was only three or four years old. My grandmother Gwendoline, and my great-aunt May were Alice
Louisa’s daughters. When they were together, which was not very often, their fevered interactions reminded
me of the Larkins girls in H G Wells’History of Mr Polly; it was as though they had reverted to their youth. I
wondered whether their mother had behaved like that with her sisters. I could imagine what it must have been
like in that tiny house at 4 Church Row, with six girls, five of whom had been born within an eight year period,
quarrelling and squabbling, laughing and crying, and causing general pandemonium. Perhaps that drove James
Chilman away; he was just in search of some peace and quiet.
The five houses of Church Row, built c.1820, now 15/17/19/21/23 Church Path. (Not in the picture, no.25 survives
from the 18th century, curiously interweaving part of its structure with no.23.) Photo: D Haunton
This investigation into Henry Hatch and Ann Hatch led to my book about Henry’s nephew, Rev Henry John Hatch, the
first chaplain of Wandsworth Prison, who ended up serving six months in Newgate Prison. Henry’s Trials, is published
by Mirli Books, 2009.
Details of the article and follow-up can be found at: https://www.mirlibooks.com/family-mystery-solved.html
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 218 – JUNE 2021 – PAGE 11
MIKE STRANGE has discovered some survivors from
THE HUTTED CAMP ON BUSHEY ROAD
Mick Taylor got talking online to Mike Strange about the POWcamp and sent him an article from the Bulletin
(211 or 212). As a result Mr Strange raised the topic of the Messines field with the Wimbledon Chase
Reminiscence Group and received the following interesting information from two ladies.
Person 1 ‘This is my christening photo (below) taken outside our Hut where I lived with my family for the first
six months of my life. My father and some friends who were ex-soldiers apparently commandeered the huts
as they had nowhere to live. They were, according to my parents, the best place they ever lived, large and airy
and everyone helping each other.’
When asked if she thought the article was accurate, she replied ‘I have heard different from people who
actually experienced it, most, sadly, no longer with us. Originally these were men and their families who [had
been] promised the earth and received very little. My parents’house had been bombed and when my father
returned [from service] my mother was living with my brother in different relatives’houses, as were many
others. So ‘as the story goes’ a group of these men broke into the ex-POWsite, and then had another battle to
remain there. Sad really. I know my parents moved out in November 1949, but I think they were there from
around 1946/7. The address on my ration book was The Hutted Camp.’
Person 2 ‘My mother, now 90, maiden name Fallon, used to live in Whatley Avenue and has told us many
stories about this. She said that before it was a POWcamp it was farmland owned by a Mr Deaney. When she
was young she said she used to talk to the German POWs albeit through two lots of barbed wire.’
Mike comments that the construction of the huts was not a bit like he imagined, having had to use the concrete
changing rooms and showers that were there when he attended Bushey School for Boys 1959-63 (when it closed).
SUBTITLES – THE CORRECTIONS
(1) Hadrian’s Wall(2) Phil Andrews [a well-known archaeologist]
(3) Excavations in Wiltshire(4) rubbish heap(5) [Sir] Mortimer Wheeler
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 218 – JUNE 2021 – PAGE 12
DAVID UNDERDOWN, himself a bell ringer, explores
SURREY CHURCH BELL RINGERS SERVING IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR
David Underdown is a Senior Digital Archivist at the National Archives. His blog considers the men named on
the First World War roll of honour of the Surrey Association of Church Bell Ringers, their wartime service, and
closely related matters. David’s researches are documentedat Halfmuffled.wordpress.com, with his own notes
shown in square brackets. Information on today’s bells and ringers can be found on the ringers’own website
and the Surrey Association website.
Only two churches in the modern London Borough of Merton enjoyed ringers who were both members of the
Surrey Association and served in the Forces during the First World War. Hence there are no entries for other
churches in Mitcham or Wimbledon, or for churches in Merton or Morden.
Colliers Wood, Christ Church
Christ Church, Colliers Wood (listed as Mitcham on the original roll), sent the largest contingent of members
to war, 13, all of whom survived, though three are noted on the roll as having been wounded. They include
three sets of brothers (Druett, Jennings and Parslow). An eighth man, Alfred Miller, was married to another
Druett, so may have been a brother-in-law to the two Druetts. The father of the three Parslow brothers was also
a ringer, a fourth brother (Charles Henry Parslow) also served, but was presumably not a ringer.
Private Alfred Robert Brewin — 2/5th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment; 21st (County of London) Battalion
(First Surrey Rifles), 23rd (County of London) Battalion and 18th Battalion (London Irish), London Regiment;
Wounded. [Only 23rd battalion, London Regiment, is mentioned on the original roll.]
Sergeant William Crossley — RNAS Tregantle, RNAS Cranwell, Royal Naval Air Service; Royal Air Force.
[Joined RNAS with number F45883 in January 1918. Based at Fort Tregantle until 3 February, he was then
transferred to Cranwell. He transferred to the RAF on its formation on 1 April 1918, when he would have
received the number 245883 (drop the F and add 2 and leading zeroes to make a six figure number in the range
200001-299999). The record for 245883 is not available in AIR 79 [a TNAfolder], suggesting he may have
continued to serve in the RAF after the war. The muster roll created at the formation of the RAF does show
245883 W Crossley as a wireless operator.]
Gunner Hector James Dewdney — 190th (Wimbledon) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery; Wounded/Sick.
[Discharged from 5C Reserve Brigade. Original roll states he was wounded, but in the Silver War Badge lists
he was discharged due to sickness. Middle initial given as I on original roll, but in fact he seems to have been
known as James in the army, but Hector to ringers.]
Captain Horace Charles Druett — 2/5th Battalion East Surrey Regiment; Indian Army Reserve of Officers
(IARO), attached 1/54th Sikhs, Frontier Force. [Commissioned from the ranks, transferred to IARO, possibly
with the intention of trying for permanent commission in Indian Army, but seems to have felt misled as to his
prospects there and returned to East Surrey Regiment. Brother of Harold below.]
Private Harold James Druett — 5th Reserve Cavalry Regiment; 19th Battalion, Tank Corps. [Listed as only
initial H in original roll, only Tank Corps service noted. Brother of Horace Charles above.]
Private Douglas Hall — 3/5th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment. [Forename and unit confirmed by Ringing
World mention in 1915, but not conclusively identified in census or army records. Possibly Douglas Charles
Hall, brother of Leonard Henry Hall who is known to have been in the choir at Christ Church.]
Private Joseph Thomas S Jennings —1/5th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment [Initials given as J S Ton original
roll, brother of Arthur Martin below].
Private Arthur Martin Jennings — Royal Army Medical Corps [Brother of Joseph Thomas S above].
Sapper/Private Alfred Miller — 6th Provisional Company, Royal Engineers; 2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade;
Lancashire Fusiliers; D Company, 24th (Home Service) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment; 29th, 18th & 16th
Battalions, Manchester Regiment [Army record states ‘Pretends to be slightly deaf’, twice admitted to hospital,
once with haemorrhoids, and possibly Spanish Flu in November 1918. Possibly brother-in-law of the two
Druett brothers above. Ringing World in January 1917 notes him as eighth member of tower to join up.]
1st Class Air Mechanic Percy Lewis Parslow — 57 Squadron, 20 Squadron and 11 Wing, Royal Flying Corps/
Royal Air Force [Brother of Arthur Malcolm and John William below].
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 218 – JUNE 2021 – PAGE 13
Private Arthur Malcolm Parslow — 3 London Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps; 13th (County of
London) Battalion (Kensington) & 15th Battalion, London Regiment. [Served in Middle East, hospitalised on
various occasions with minor ailments, record difficult to make out.]
Serjeant John William Parslow — 15th (County of London) Battalion (Prince of Wales’Own Civil Service
Rifles), London Regiment; Wounded, gas 1918. [After being gassed in May 1918 he briefly returned to his unit
in June 1918 before being hospitalised again in August, rejoining his unit again on Armistice Day.]
Serjeant Percival Charles Rabbetts — 6th (Reserve Cyclists) Battalion, Royal Sussex. [no overseas service]
Wimbledon, St Mary
Just three ringers from St Mary’s, Wimbledon, served -and all survived. However, two have not been completely
identified. One man is listed as W
de Vulder – there is a de Vulder family in Wimbledon in the censuses, but
two brothers have the first initial W. The roll also indicatesthat he served with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
– there are no army records to match this, though there is one for a WAde Vulder (matching the younger of
the two brothers) who served with the local East Surrey Regiment.
Sapper Richard Rapson — Royal Marine Engineers. [Royal Marine Engineers were a home-based corps, he
was probably making use of his civilian skills as a plumber.]
?Willis Austin? de Vulder or his brother ?William Ewart?
de Vulder — Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. [Initial
only given as Won original roll. There is a medal card for a WAde Vulder (or de Yulder) with the East Surreys,
who served in India – but no evidence of service with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers..]
Sergeant-Major Sidney Howard — Royal Air Force. Served as Private 4554 in the Royal Sussex Regiment
before transferring to the RAF as 408909. [He was from a ringing family, originally from Barley, Herts, and
lived in Mitcham between the wars, but eventually moved to Sussex.]
The Light Ages – A Medieval Journey of Discovery, by Seb Falk (2020, Allen Lane) £20.00
This book deserves to become a medieval history classic, alongside Eileen Power’s
Medieval People or Richard Southern’s The Making of the Middle Ages. The subject is
perhaps an unpromising one for a popular classic: medieval science, whose reputation
ranges from ‘science, what science?’to being so arcane and obscure that it is a closed
book (the etymology of ‘dunce’speaks volumes about our attitude to medieval science).
Falk discusses this in his introduction – how the ‘dark ages’need reassessing, and how
dynamic scientific enquiry was in the years between the collapse of Rome and the
‘Scientific Revolution’of the seventeenth century. This is a scholarly book, with plenty of
endnotes for those who want them (luckily it reads just as well if you ignore them). Falk
covers astronomy, the astrolabe and time-keeping, computus (how to calculate Easter –
something, despite his excellent explanation, I’m still not entirely clear about, but I suspect
most medieval monks and nuns weren’t, either), medicine, the development of universities
and the branches of science; his concentrated comprehensiveness is one reason why it will
become a classic. The other reason is that it is beautifully written. He focuses on a monk of St Albans, John Westwyck,
and is careful to bring in other characters to make the science more personal, very much in the Adam Hart-Davis
tradition of science communication. He mixes authority with friendly enthusiasm, with characters ‘whom we met’
elsewhere, anecdotes (about the drunk monk students of Oxford, for example), and humour.
For members of Merton Historical Society, there’s an extra personal link: the Bodleian manuscript Ashmole
1522. Falk mentions this several times because it is an Oxford student’s mathematical / astronomical textbook
from the fourteenth century, and therefore one of his core texts. In the fifteenth century, this particular manuscript
came into the hands of John de Kingston. John was a canon of Merton, and studied at Oxford, where presumably
he bought this from one of the many second-hand book dealers in the city. When John later became prior [of
Merton?], he lent the book to another canon, John Gisbourne – who himself became prior a few years later.
Falk shows St Albans to have had a flourishing garden of science (one of its priors made the first ‘modern’
clock), but Ashmole 1522 hints that Merton also had a line in scientific enquiry. This book has taken me a
while to read, as it is so full of things to digest, but I have [sorry, can’t resist the puns] found it illuminating and
enlightening, and hope that you might, too.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 218 – JUNE 2021 – PAGE 14
♦ Stall Risers: Norma Cox has found a number of decorated stall risers in Wimbledon, which we hope to
publish in a future article, but it appears that very few are visible elsewhere in the London Borough. The
only one found in Morden centre is shown on p.1, a modern design enlivening the premises of Rooster’s
Grill, 117 London Road. Also shown on p.1 is part of a similar design at Robert & Edwards, Butchers, 19
Leopold Road (sadly, it is normally covered by advertisingplacards). This is about a hundred years earlier,
and is made of small glazed tiles, while the Morden tiles, of similar size, are unglazed. The idea should be
encouraged wherever shops are being refurbished. Are there no decorative stall risers in Mitcham?
♦ Odd Entries: Rosemary Turner noted these items from Carshalton Parish Register in George Brightling’s
History of Carshalton (1872, reprinted 1978, etc), which could make us smile, boggle or weep.
1641 A Londoner married Mr Kepps sister, of Micham, on Easter Monday
1641 Mr Meece married a couple who came from fishtead whose name he could not remember.
1602 Aman and a woman, being Goers About, [tramps] died at brightelmes in Carshalton fields and were
buried 4 day of September.
1638 Robt. Drew, who had bene pish clerke [ie. ‘been parish clerk’] neare 50 yeares, aged 80, Aug 29
♦ Holborn Union Workhouse: Tony Scott fielded an historical enquiry, concerning when the last trace of
the Holborn Union Workhouse disappeared from Mitcham. He replied ‘The brick gateposts and arch to the
pedestrian entrance remained in Western Road, roughly opposite the gas works, until the surrounding land
(containing small industrial buildings and low quality housing in Gladstone Road and Fountain Road) was
compulsorily purchased in 1969 and completely demolished by 1972. The Sadler Close housing estate was
built on the site and was completed in 1975.’
♦ The Surrey Iron Railway: Eric Shaw of the Wandle Industrial Museum has questioned the railway’s
claims to fame. His note below was first published in WIM Bulletin No.106, Spring 2020. An earlier WIM
Bulletin, No.44, November 2003, also refers to the subjectof which was the first railway. (WIM Bulletins
are viewable at www.wandle.org. Or you could join the Friends, only £10 per annum.)
The article ‘The Industries of the River Wandle’in WIM Bulletin No.105, Winter 2020, raises the questions:
was the Surrey Iron Railway (SIR) the first public railway in the world, and, further, was it even the first
public railway in this country?
Evidence suggests that it was neither. Paul Sowan, well known in Surrey Local History circles, mentions
two public railways that preceded the SIR, the Loughborough to Nanpantan Railway in 1789, and the Lake
Lock Railway, near Wakefield, in 1798. On that evidence the SIR would have been the third and the Croydon,
Merstham and Godstone Iron Railway, the fourth. Further evidence suggests that the SIR was not even the
first railway to be sanctioned under the Parliamentary Bill procedure, as the Middleton Railway, near Leeds,
was sanctionedin 1758. The last tramway under a similar act was Croydon Tramlink, whose bill was dated
1994. Any subsequent projects now come under the Transport and Works Act. We may have to alter some
of the titles and headings in the museum!
♦ Ejecter Opinions: We asked about this odd object in Bulletin 214. Our photographs have so far elicited
only two negative opinions. Ann Ramon kindly asked David Hassard, avionics engineer and the force
behind Kingston Aviation, (Hawker Aviation factory on the Richmond Road), for his view. He responded
‘I cannot improve on the general description ‘electro- mechanical device’. It could come from any number
of applicationsand would need a real specialist in each application to confirm its use. The mechanism itself
might be a manual switch or timer, as it obviously takes a knob in the squared front spindle. It could be
aviation related and even possibly for an ejector seat, that is not my area of expertise. The rusty ‘agricultural’
steel frame in which it is mounted on shock absorbers certainly is not from an aircraft -that would be made
from lighter weight aluminium alloy. It might be part of a ground test rig or some such.’
Tony Gaunt, Business Development Executive, Martin-Baker Aircraft Company Limited, (the only
manufacturer of ejection seats in the UK) responded ‘Unfortunately I am unable to identify this item of
equipment. I have been with Martin-Baker for nearly 20 years; many of them as the Chief Instructor, but
not seen anything like it.’ So, we are back to Square One.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 218 – JUNE 2021 – PAGE 15
♦ Strange Stone: Irene Burroughs asked us for ideas about the stone shown
in these two pictures (right). It is a smooth globe with a flattish less-finished
‘base’, some 16-18 inches across. The large snail in the photo of the reverse,
gives you an idea of scale! Irene says ‘This stone was in the garden when my
parents bought the house (in Melrose Avenue, Mitcham) in 1939. It’s always
been a bit of a mystery. Quite reddish in colour, it has been moved about a bit,
and we have had it in both the front and back gardens.’
Dave Haunton thought the shape was artificial, carved,
because on the snail-
picture you can see faint carving or turning lines running horizontally around
the globe, parallel to the plane of the flat base. The pink colour and carving
implyitis probably asandstone.TonyScottagreed ittobeared sandstone, but
considered it was probably sea-washed into a rounded shape. It may then have
been chiselled to provide a flat surface for fixing to the top of a gatepost. Both
agreed it was used as an architectural detail, possibly on top of a gatepost, in
which case there would be another somewhere as its pair. Or it could be rather
humbler, as one of a line (double line?) of similar stones defining a pathway
or a driveway.
Irene commented ‘I don’t think there was much in the way of buildings on this side of Streatham Road
(the main road) before these rows of houses were built, around 1905. As far as I know, it was mainly fields
and some gravel pits. There were many fruit trees in the gardens here when my parents moved in, some of
which I remember. My grandfather, who knew the area well, before it was developed, confirmed that there
had been orchards on this part of the land.’She mentioned that there had been a large house, Gorringe Park
House and its estate, on the other side of Streatham Road, and had discovered two photos of the house in
Britain in Old Photographs – Merton, Morden and Mitcham, one of which shows the avenue leading to the
house, with a gateway with the right sort of features but much bigger. Irene noticed that further to the left
there were what looks like some smaller pillars. [Has anyone a good photo of the House ? The photos in the
book are too small or indistinct to print here.]
So Tony summarised: I agree with the suggestion that it may well have come from a gate post at Gorringe
Park House, which was demolished in the mid-1920s. My guess is that the previous owner of your house
obtained it from there and walked it round using a sack-barrowor wheel-barrow, to use as a garden ornament.
So you have a bit of old Mitcham in your garden!
♦ Thorow-wax: DaveHaunton is cheered bythereappearancethis springof
the greenish-yellow blossoms (right) of this wild flower near Merton Park
tram stop, east of the demolished Tooting branch of the LBSC railway.
The plant, officially bupleurum rotundifolium, also called the common
hare’s ear, is interesting for two reasons – the name and the occurrence.
The name thorow-wax (and its spelling variations) is unchanged from the
Anglo-Saxon original, meaning ‘growing through’, so called because ‘the
perfoliate leaves appear to be pierced by the stem’, ie. each individual leaf
grows around the main stem. Occurrence – according to Keble Martin
(The Concise British Flora in Colour, 1969 edition, plate 36) the plant
inhabits cornfields on basic (ie. non-acid) soils and is very rare, the Royal
Horticultural Society website says it now barely occurs in the wild, while
the Natural History Museum opines that it is entirely extinct in the wild.
However, seeds are still available for purchase from half a dozen gardeners,
so presumably our patch is an escapee. But from where?
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MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 218 – JUNE 2021 – PAGE 16