September 2022 – Bulletin 223
Morden in the Forties and Fifties – Marian Heath
The view from ‘The Woodman’s Bridge – Norma Cox
The Woodman figure – Dave Haunton
The West Barnesuda Triangle – Elaine McCormack
Claes Oldenburg’s London Knees – Clive Whichelow and Peter Hadfield
and much more
CHAIR: Keith Penny
BULLETIN No. 223 SEPTEMBER 2022
Carved figure on the front of
the Woodman pub (see p.13)
Photo Courtesy Matthew
Hillier of Wimbledon Society
& now of MHS
Programme September 2022 -March 2023 2
‘Florence Nightingale’s London’ 3
Local History Workshops: 14 March – Odd stone; wartime church register
10 June – Shoppa Hoppa; Lonesome; Oswald the Rabbit; Kindertransport; Mitcham Grove 4
Greatly missed 6
Morden in the Forties and Fifties – Marian Heath 7
MHS publications elsewhere 10
The view from ‘The Woodman’s Bridge’ – Norma Cox 11
The Woodman figure – Dave Haunton 13
News from the Chapter House 14
The West Barnesuda Triangle – Elaine McCormack 15
Claes Oldenburg’s London Knees – Clive Whichelow and Peter Hadfield 15
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 223 – SEPTEMBER 2022 – PAGE 2
FROM THE CHAIRMAN
I write this message from a distance, because I have moved away from London and will therefore not be
standing again for election as Chair, though I shall be coming to the Annual Meeting on 12th November to
give my annual report. With this edition of the Bulletin you have received papers for that meeting: please
consider coming to it, even if you would not normally attend such events. The Committee has been discussing
its concerns for the well-being of the Society and wants to hear from you, the members, what you want from
us and what you can contribute. Immediate concerns are the declining attendances at walks and visits and the
dependence on a very small number of car drivers to bring the equipment needed for talks. Some honest talking
is required if there is to be a plan for the future, and at the Annual Meeting there will be an opportunity for all
to share their thoughts and suggestions. As has been our recent practice, there will then be a break for tea and
afterwards some short talks by members on historical matters. Keith Penny
PROGRAMME SEPTEMBER 2022 – MARCH 2023
Thursday 8 September at 10.30am Margaret Smart
William Morris, the Arts and Crafts Movement and the Architecture Thereof
At 29 Murray Road, London SW19 4PD. Please use the side entrance and go through to the
garden, where the talk will take place. Information panels indoors. Coffee/tea and biscuits offered.
Please book beforehand on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Possibly £5 per person (fees to the National Trust) – pay Bea on the day.
Saturday 8 October 2022 at 2.30pm Michael Norman-Smith
Wimbledon Common and how it was saved and the tracing
of the descendants of those involved 150 years later
Saturday 12 November 2022 at 2.30pm AGM and Members talks
Saturday 10 December 2022 at 2.30pm Roger Squires
London Bridge over the River Thames
Saturday 14 January 2023 at 2.30pm Adrian Waddingham
Breakspear the English Pope
Saturday 11 February 2023 at 2.30pm Edward Legon
Anthony Sadler and the goings-on in Mitcham Parish
Saturday 11 March 2023 at 2.30pm Richard Smart
The Salvation Army history in Merton
Local History Workshops: 30 September, 25 November from 2.30pm
at the Wandle Industrial Museum, next door to the Vestry Hall, Mitcham.
Saturday meetings are held in St James’s Church Hall in Martin Way, next to the church.
Buses 164 and 413 stop in Martin Way (in both directions) immediately outside.
Parking in adjacent streets is free.
Visitors are welcome to attend our events.
A membership renewal form is included with this Bulletin. Only paid-up members may vote at the AGM.
From 1 October 2022 rates are:
Single membership £12 Additional member of same household £5
Full-time student £5 Overseas members by arrangement with the Membership Secretary
If you already pay by Standing Order, please still return the completed renewal form.
The AGM agenda, minutes of the last AGM and the 2021 financial statement are also enclosed.
MERTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY – BULLETIN 223 – SEPTEMBER 2022 – PAGE 3
‘FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE’S LONDON’
On Saturday 9 April 2022, ignoring the competing charms of warm sunshine and the Grand National, 21
members and guests gathered to hear Julie Chandler, a London Blue Badge Guide, speak about the life of Miss
Nightingale and the many London addresses associated with the lady (only some of which are noted below).
Unfortunately we could not find the Church Hall’s big screen, so slides were shown against an emergency
table. Julie brought along a jar of Fortnum & Mason’s Beef Tea (as recommended for invalids by Queen
Victoria), and a sample of Florence’s favourite scent from Floris (available to sniff afterwards).
Florence, (the first person with this forename), was born in 1820 and named for the city where her parents
were spending an extended honeymoon. Her sister Parthenope had been born in 1819 in Naples. The family
was affluent, spending much of their time at one or other of their two country houses in Derby and Hastings.
Florence was very well educated in advanced maths (she knew Ada Lovelace), French, German, Italian and
Latin, and later taught herself Hebrew. About the age of 17 she felt she had been called by God, for a purpose
as yet unclear. Clarification came in the 1840s in conversations with Christian von Bunsen, the Prussian
Ambassador (Carlton House Terrace) who encouraged her to visit the German Hospital in east London and
Kaiserwerth in Germany, where she would later train as a nurse. In 1853 she was appointed Superintendent
of the Establishment for Gentlewomen in Illness in Harley Street. As the absolute boss she could and did
overhaul and revise procedures. During a cholera outbreak in London in 1854 she took time out to assist at
the Middlesex Hospital (then in Fitzroy Place; the only remainder is the Fitzrovia Chapel in Pearson Square).
Soon after the start of the Crimean War in 1854, telegraph reporting and photographs of hospitals alerted
Britain to the poor state of the care for wounded soldiers. Sidney Herbert, the Secretary at War, knew the
Nightingale family and recruited Florence to take a group of women to nurse the wounded in the Crimea. The
Nightingales lived in Cavendish Square at the time, but the planning and recruiting was done in Herbert’s
house in Belgrave Square. Florence led her group to Scutari Barracks Hospital and initiated much in the way of
cleaning and treatment. She started recording monthly the causes of death among her patients, whether wounds
or preventable diseases such as STDs. Her reputation grew steadily as ‘the Lady with the Lamp’, so greatly
that in 1855 the Nightingale Fund was opened to public subscription in London (offices in Parliament Street),
raising some £44,000 (about £3 million today) in six months. In 1856 she returned from the Crimea, suffering
from ‘Crimea fever’ (a modern diagnosis is that this was brucellosis, a bacterial infection) which plagued her
for much of her life. She invented a way of drawing her analyses of deaths in a ‘coxcomb’ shape (nowadays
called a ‘polar graph’), and in 1858 was elected the first female member of the Statistical Society.
In 1860 Florence used the Nightingale Fund to start a training scheme for nurses – its modern successor is part
of the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care of King’s College London in
Waterloo Road. She spent her time writing (eg. Notes on Nursing for private nursing at home – wash your hands,
open your windows), and advising on public health cover and reform, Army Hospitals, campaign sanitation
and Public Health Acts, as well as becoming involved in the design implications of
new hospitals, notably recommending big open rooms for wards.
In 1860-64 she maintained a suite in Cork Street, in the dingy old Burlington Hotel
(now demolished), though visiting Hampstead for a change of scene. In early 1862
she moved for while to Peary’s Hotel in Dover Street, but later that year moved again
to 9 Chesterfield Street. Finally, from 1865 until she died in 1910, she lived at 10
South Street, W1, enjoying an annual allowance from her father, who also paid for
a long lease on the property. (She never earned or had any personal cash.) Her sister
Pathenope lived at no.4 with her husband, Sir Harry Verney, MP. On a local note for
us, in 1867 Florence consulted her dentist, Sir Edwin Saunders, whose home and
surgery was in Wimbledon Parkside (of course).
The book, by two Blue Badge Guides, contains a gazetteer of all the houses and hospitals associated with
Florence Nightingale, most still standing, and suggests three walks around London to inspect them.
ROYAL FEMALE ORPHANAGE EXPO
The ‘Remembering the Royal Female Orphanage’ Exhibition runs at Honeywood Museum in Carshalton from
Thursday 4 August to Saturday 3 September 2022 (open 10am – 5pm from Thursday to Saturday), moving to
Sutton Central Library on Wednesday 7 September till Sunday 2 October 2022. The exhibition includes audio
clips from those with memories about the orphanage, a video tour of Carew Manor and St Mary’s Church in
Beddington Park, and artwork by Carew Academy students made in a workshop with local artist, Pia Jaime.
LOCAL HISTORY WORKSHOPS
14 March on Zoom
Five Committee members held a second experimental local history workshop via Zoom. Keith Penny was in
the nominal Chair. Lessons were learned: to avoid distraction everyone other than the current presenter should
mute their microphones; questions should be delayed until the end of a presentation; an item with more than
one picture to be screen-shared is best done on Power Point; etc.
♦ Rosemary Turner has enjoyed seeing the pictures and comments posted on the Facebook group Mitcham
Memories. She often looks in Eric’s Mitcham Histories to see what he has written about the subject.
Westminster Abbey are having a memorial service for Dame Vera Lynn and Rosemary’s group have the job
of attaching her heraldic achievement (ie. coat of arms) to cushions so that they can be carried in procession.
♦ Dave Haunton spoke about the portrait of Nelson and his chelengk (see the
♦ Peter Hopkins gave us a summary of the results of his trawl through www.
britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk for news items mentioning Merton or Morden.
This will form a future article.
♦ Christine Pittman wondered about an isolated, odd-shaped piece of stone she
had found in Wandle Park, (right) (for which we were no help – any ideas?).
Christine then treated us to ‘Shock and Awe in Colliers Wood’, the experience
and reactions of local people through major events in 2000 years, as seen from
182 High Street. This way of exploring local history was new to her audience,
and highly effective as a talk: the full story will appear in a future Bulletin.
♦ Keith Penny had looked at the wartime registers of St Olave, Mitcham. The Vicar and later the priest-in-
charge recorded in the services register wartime events, both national and local, from ‘War Declared’ and
‘Sung Mass (Interrupted by Air Raid Warning)’ on 3rd September 1939 to ‘VICTORY IN EUROPE’ on 8th
May 1945. During the bombing of London in 1940-1 the register recorded warnings on three Sundays in
September 1940; in October 1940 ‘a great no. of children & others leave the Parish’ under the evacuation
scheme; on a Sunday and Monday at the end of October it listed ‘Air raid in progress. Bomb heard dropped
just before service. Warning during sermon.
Raid on parish 1.30 a.m. All clear at 4.15.’
(right) Raids continued into 1941 with
‘Very heavy air raid. Church and hall
opened to the bombed-out at 2.30 a.m.’
noted on 16 April, and on 11 May ‘very
bad ‘Blitzkrieg’ tonight – all night!’ On 22
June 1944 ‘Pilotless plane crashed on top of
Manor Way. About 5 dead 75 wounded, 500
homeless’. In April and May 1945 entries
became more frequent as it seemed the
end was coming: ‘Discovery of the terrible
concentration camp at Belsen’ [a reminder
that it was British-liberated Belsen, not
Auschwitz, that first horrified the nation];
and ‘End of Black-out restrictions’. At last,
at 8pm on Tuesday 8 May, there could be a
‘Special V. in E. day service’.
10 June 2022 – Five present – Peter Hopkins in the chair
♦ David Luff recalled the ‘Shoppa Hoppa’ (right), a free bus service begun in 1989 to
attract people to the retail outlets in the new Savacentre. It followed a circular route
linking the local shopping centres of Morden, Cheam, Sutton and Mitcham. It seems
to have been a short-lived service. Does anyone know when it stopped?
♦ Rosemary Turner shared this email from very new member Claire Leavey:
My ancestors lived in Lonesome, and having grown up with my dad’s stories of
spending summers with them ‘in the country’ in the late 20s/early 30s, I was just stunned when
my daughter did some online genealogy research and identified the location! My dad was from
Anerley, and could never work out where it was they’d sent him – just that it wasn’t terribly far
away [about three miles – Ed], that one grandfather was a blacksmith and that an uncle and aunt
ran a sewage works. We’ve found all these things mentioned in online material, confirming his
account, and I am very keen to find out more! What is really weird is that the old photos on your
excellent website indicate that the place he later moved us to in the Welsh Marches is very like
Lonesome was when he was sent there as a boy. It basically looks like where I live now! I can
walk into those shops and visit people in those cottages, and slip in the mud on those unmade
♦ Dave Haunton had noticed a tale in the Footage Detectives programme on Talking
Pictures TV (Channel 82) on 28 May 2022. In 1960, the M1 had just been opened
and there was a great fear that criminals would be able to use it to make a quick
getaway after committing a crime in London. John Barringer was in the Odeon
cinema, Morden, when one of the Merton Film Studios series Scotland Yard was
shown. ‘The film contained a lot of footage of the thieves making their getaway
through Morden and the local area. Part of it was shot in Morden High Street, which
was immediately outside the cinema, and many of the audience had noticed this,
nudging each other and making comments about it. As a pursuing police car headed
down the High Street, one of the coppers spoke very earnestly into his radio mike,
saying ‘They’re heading for the M1′. As this was about 30 miles away, the whole
audience collapsed into fits of laughter.’
Dave had also noted an item shown on the Antiques Roadshow on BBC1 (Channel 1)
in May. This was the rather horrible stuffed toy (above, right) intended to represent
a Disney character, ‘Oswald the Lucky Rabbit’. Oswald featured in about a dozen
animated cartoons between 1927 and 1939, being overtaken in popularity by his
rival Mickey Mouse, first drawn in 1929. He looked nothing like the toy, which
features here only because it was made by Dean’s Rag Books Co Ltd, a local firm,
as printed on the soft leather soles of the feet (detail, right).
♦ Mike Norman-Smith is investigating whether any of the 10,000 child refugees that arrived in Britain on the
Kindertransport in 1938/39 ever came to our area. Where did they come from? Who took them in and where
did they stay? What happened to them later? He discovered that, surprisingly, there is no central register of
the initial destinations of these children, so has started by enquiring of local organisations. He has found a
few, notably two small girls aged 2 and 4, who were fostered by the Woolf family, and rather later served as
bridesmaids to a Woolf daughter who married Alan Tyler. Mike also found some earlier refugees, of whom
one couple became the grand-parents of the present Chief Rabbi, Dame Julia Neuberger.
♦ Peter Hopkins has been investigating the medieval history of the Mitcham Grove estate for David Bird to
incorporate in his report for the Surrey Arch. Collections on the excavations he undertook in 1974 and 1975.
Peter thought it would be a simple matter of going through various accumulated notes, but it has proved one
of the most time-consuming, complicated and confusing pieces of research he has undertaken.
For a start, much of what he believed known about the Smyth family, who owned the estate from the 16th to
the 18th century, proved to be uncertain. Eg. ‘George Smith’ turned out to be at least two and possibly three
different people – George son of Thomas, George son of Thomas’s brother William, and maybe a George son
of William’s son William, only one of whom, William I’s son, left a will. His ledgerstone in Mitcham parish
church gave his age, so Peter was able to identify him in the baptism registers. In the will of one of Thomas’s
daughters, Peter discovered that she had inherited part of her brother George’s estates, which she left to her
cousin George, disinheriting her sister Susanna – another lady who had hitherto escaped identification.
Peter’s main task was to discover evidence to connect the site of Mitcham Grove to the medieval estate centre
at Wicford, held until the 13th century by the de Wicford family, and then by William Mareys, whose financial
disasters forced him to sell large chunks of his estate, to mortgage the rest, and to donate to the Church part
that was probably no longer his to give away. Much of his estate became Merton Priory’s Marislond estate
in Mitcham and Carshalton, which annoyingly was never described in detail in any extant document, so we
have no idea of its size. The name Maris, Marish, Marisfee, etc, was used to describe various properties in
later centuries, and most of them came into the possession of the Smyth family – but so did a lot of other
properties. Peter had to sort out which, if any, included the site of Mitcham Grove.
Fortunately there is a wealth of documentation recording the family’s land transactions, and the wonderful
collection of deeds (now in Surrey History Centre), donated to MHS by a former lessee of the Mitcham
Bucks Head, includes a couple of documents detailing these properties and through which branch of the
family each had passed. Some of the pitfalls arose over two properties, each of 18 acres, which Peter found
were not the same; others came from a long-running dispute between the manorial lords of Ravensbury and
Reigate over mills and lands at Mitcham Bridge. One 23-acre Ravensbury copyhold seems to have become
treated as freehold, and was in danger of being counted twice – or perhaps three times, as at least 10 of its
acres seem to have been claimed by Reigate manor.
Peter thinks he has sorted out which part of the estate had been purchased from the Whitney family, whose
forebears had purchased Merton Priory’s former Marislond estate – but who had also owned the Mitcham
Hall estate and other properties. Even now there is some doubt, because the first Thomas Smyth was already
living in a house in Mitcham by the Wandle 23 years before his son purchased the Whitney estate. So it
would seem that the site of Mitcham Grove had already come into the Smyth family’s ownership, and had
not been part of the former priory estate granted to the Whitneys’ ancestor.
One house purchased by the first Thomas Smyth could have been near the Wandle [though further investigation
since this Workshop seems to indicate that it didn’t pass to the same branch of the family as Mitcham
Grove!]. Thomas had purchased this property from a descendant of William Stondon, the priory’s former
tenant. It is possible that Stondon had purchased his ‘Capital messuage called Maris Garden’, though his
other property dealings indicate a certain disregard for legal rights of ownership. But whether or not he had
bought it legally, it does seem likely that the site of Mitcham Grove HAD been part of Mareys’s estate at
some time, and HAD probably been part of the estate obtained by his father from the de Wicford family in
the late 13th century. But Peter continues to seek conclusive evidence, one way or the other.
SURREY LOCAL HISTORY COMMITTEE
This year’s Local History Symposium will be held on Saturday 8 October 2022 at Surrey History Centre
9.55am – 3.30 pm. The theme is on Poverty – ‘You have the poor with you always’.
Speakers will include Catherine Ferguson on the treatment of the poor in post-Restoration Surrey, Judy Hill on
rethinking the old Poor Law, Viv Bennett on stories of inmates at Guildford Workhouse in 1881, and Martin
Stilwell on council housing for the ex-servicemen and workers of Surrey after WW1.
The old man with the scythe has in the past year deprived us of the company of:
Doris Green, sister of our late President Lionel, founder member and amateur archaeologist, who continued
her membership for many years. She went into care and died recently, aged 97.
Rita Scott, wife of our Vice-Chair, was an early member, who, in the days when we supported Mitcham Fair,
gave a lot of help at our stalls, earning much praise and thanks for arranging the Scouts’ minibus to transport
our tables and displays thither (and of course, thence).
Audrey King, long-term Committee member, famous for sorting out our muddled membership and subscription
records. When MHS set up an email account, she bravely took on the challenge of being ‘first point of contact’
for the public, deciding who would be best at answering a query, and then checking that an answer had been
produced, sometimes having to rap knuckles for failure to do so.
Celia Bailey, long-term MHS member and keen archaeologist; as a mainstay of Croydon Natural History and
Scientific Society (CNHSS) she much assisted a happy relationship between our two Societies.
Eileen Lilley served for several years as our Hon Auditor. She worked as a PA to the Master of a City Livery
Company, becoming very knowledgeable about such Companies and their histories. She gave a talk to MHS
on the subject many years ago. Eileen had strong views on many subjects, did not suffer fools gladly, and was
never afraid to voice an opinion.
Stephen Wright, Committee member for the last ten years, was a man of many interests, including classical
music, Monte Carlo car rallies, London Transport, maps of the Underground, and postal history. A highlight of
his career was that he accompanied a Cilla Black tour, representing her recording company. He was proud of
being for many years a member of the Royal Mail team which annually lists future anniversaries (and ideas for
possible designs) for the people who decide which sets of commemorative stamps to issue.
MARIAN HEATH offers a child’s-eye view of
MORDEN IN THE FORTIES AND FIFTIES
My parents bought 84 Cherrywood Lane prior to their marriage at St James’s church in 1935, and lived there
until they moved away to Kent in February 1954. They lived and met in Brixton and were excited to own their
own new house with all mod cons, and a garden of their own. A photo gives a view from the rear fence of a
golf course still waiting to be developed. My father worked at Streamline Filters, an engineering firm near to
Battersea power station, while my mother was in charge of a typing pool for a firm of lawyers in Lincolns
Inn Field. They travelled to work by bus and underground to central London. My father’s family lived in
Streatham, so family visits involved bus and train journeys when they went to visit.
I came on the scene nearly a decade later, when WW2 was well under way. Remarkably, I do remember
cuddling up with my Mum and our dog Chippie under the dining room table. For a short period we stayed with
aunts and uncles in Somerset, away from the bombing. This was very short-lived as Mum missed being with
Dad in Morden. When I was older, my parents and neighbours told me about a bomb dropping in Cherrywood
Lane, part of it shooting through the front door and out the back of number 82.
Our house was called Everston (a combination of Everard, my
father’s surname, and Stone, my mother’s maiden name), and
had a name panel that my father cut out in wood with his fretsaw
(right). Heating was by coal fires downstairs, with electric fires in
the bedrooms. The kitchen had a boiler fuelled by anthracite, whose hot pipes gave heat and hot water to the
bathroom upstairs. We had a gas stove with the pre-payment meter in the cupboard under the stairs. I remember
the gas man calling to read the meter and piling all the money up on the stairs. The kitchen had free-standing
cabinets, a sink, a small gas stove and just enough room for the three of us to sit around a small scrubbed pine
table at breakfast time. There was a hatchway to pass food from the kitchen into the dining room where we
had our big table, sideboard and cosy chairs. The frieze around this room had autumnal leaves, and there were
golden velvet curtains at the French windows. In a corner of the room was my mother’s Singer treadle sewing
machine, encased in a wooden cabinet made by my father. As a tiny tot I remember managing to open the door
and take out pins that were kept in a container on the inside of the door. I showed them to my mother and she
thought that I had put some in my mouth, and maybe even swallowed them. This led to a visit to St. Helier’s
hospital for an X-ray !
The front door opened onto a hallway, with stairs leading up on the left and the sitting room door on the right.
This room was rarely used except when visitors came, so with no fire it was rather cold. We had a three piece
suite, with wooden panels at the front of the arms, with a long tassel hanging down on the front of each panel.
As a toddler I was told off for pulling some of the threads out – it was so fascinating watching one end go up
whilst I pulled the other down. Upstairs lay the bathroom and toilet, two bedrooms and a so-called box room
where I slept. It was very small but had room for my bed and a little chair and bedside cabinet, both made by
my father. On the wall was a framed picture of ‘Babes in the Wood’, and a painting of ‘Snow White and the
Seven Dwarves’ by my uncle George. My parents slept in one of the two bedrooms and for a few years my
grandparents self-catered in the other one, until they moved to Raynes Park.
Outside, the front garden was fenced, with two pretty shrubs. I now know that they were Wiegela and
Philadelphus (mock orange). The small stained glass windows up high made the houses look very attractive
from the road. (What a shame that many of these have now been removed and that there is a need to park cars
on the small front gardens!) I remember being quite envious of my friend Frances Walker having beautiful pink
flowering cherry trees lining Ashridge Way where she lived.
In the back garden there was a concreted area near the house, where the coal bunker backed onto the dividing
fence. At the end of the concrete was a trellis and gate leading to the rest of the garden where there were two
rectangular beds surrounded by crazy paving paths. Well remembered, as my cousin and I were told off for
putting coal between the cracks and running my pram round and round our pretend railway track! My father
made a concrete-lined pond in the garden, with raised sides you could sit on. We returned from one of our
holidays in Devon with goldfish in a large container. Apparently it was very difficult to buy them locally. We
named them Gert and Daisy after the radio comedy stars. Down the bottom of the garden was a lawn with a
plum tree and a shed to the right. I believe that when the house was built it was obligatory for each new house
to have a fruit tree. In summer, Dad would string up his old Merchant Navy hammock in the plum tree and take
his Sunday afternoon nap there. I loved to climb into it and pull a rope tied in the tree to make it into a swing.
Outside the kitchen door at the back was a table with a meat safe on top where mum would store her meat for
the day’s meal. Of course we had no fridge in those days. Milk was delivered every day in pint bottles. When
it was warm in summer, Mum would store the milk in a bowl of cold water which she changed throughout
the day. If the milk turned sour and thickened she put it in a muslin bag and tied it to the tap to make cottage
cheese. As well as milk being delivered, we had deliveries by the green-grocer and the baker. I loved to feed
their horses with an apple or sugar lump. The horses each had blinkers, and a nose bag of hay. Grown-ups often
rushed out with shovels to collect the manure! (No Garden Centres then!)
On rare occasions when we had a treat, I would run down to the local shop in Cannon Hill Lane and buy a block
of Wall’s ice cream with wafers; the shopkeeper would wrap it in newspaper to keep it cold. I just had time to
get home before it softened too much. Mum was a good cook, but most meals were quite basic. Most people
we knew had a roast on Sunday, cold meat on Monday and mince on Tuesday. Mum also cooked such meals
as steak and kidney pudding, liver and bacon, or toad in the hole. Puddings that I remember are peaches with
evaporated milk, pancakes, spotted dick and apple pie. Of course rationing had an impact on the food we had to
eat. Sugar was still rationed in the early fifties. Mum and Dad often told me the tale of salt once being put into
the icing sugar storage container by mistake and Mum making marzipan Easter eggs with it. Apparently she
threw the eggs at my father when she realised what he had done. You can imagine the annoyance after saving
all her sugar coupons up for such a long time.
We did not have many strangers call at our house, but I do remember the ‘gypsies’, as they were called
then, who came selling handmade baskets filled with primroses, lucky heather, pegs and beautifully crafted
chrysanthemums made of wood. One day someone came selling underwear and that was the first time I had
seen a black person. I can remember the grocers, a newsagent and a hairdresser in Martin Way, just opposite St
James’s church. At the grocers there was a barrel by the door which contained vinegar, where Mum would let
me re-fill her bottle. I can still see the shopkeeper’s face and black shiny wavy hair as he asked how thick she
wanted the bacon cut, and the sound of the slicer going back and forth.
There was a local hall where Mum went for keep fit classes; a clinic was held there for babies and young
children. I attended Phyllis Atkins school of dancing; we put on ballet dancing shows at Putney town hall (I
still have one of the programmes). We also went to Putney for the dolls’ hospital and a specialist dentist.
The local church of St. James played a significant part in my early childhood. I went to Sunday School every
Sunday with my penny to give at collection time. We always wore our Sunday best and were thrilled to have
another picture stamp to stick in our book. I still have two Sunday School stamp books (and five postcards, sent
annually by St James’s church to celebrate my birthday and baptism), now tucked away with other memorabilia.
Concerts were held in the church hall throughout the year; I remember a special one where the mother of my
best friend Jennifer Channel sang ‘Cherry Ripe’. There were always fêtes in the summer – hoopla was always
a draw as you tried to throw the hoop over the square base on which the prizes were placed. I remember
entering a miniature garden competition, and winning a flower arrangement prize with the beautiful lavender-
coloured stock Mum had grown in the garden. Of course the annual Sunday School treat, usually to Wimbledon
Common, was the high point of the year. We all took our own cup, plate and spoon, marked carefully with our
name, excited at the thought of jelly and ice cream. A treat indeed!
There were so many open spaces to enjoy as a child. We frequently went to Morden Park and Cannon Hill
Common. The entrance to Morden Park from Hillcross Avenue was a magical place, with towers of horse
chestnut trees on all sides, where in the autumn you rustled through the fallen leaves and scooped up armfuls
of shiny conkers. The large pond was also magical – a place where your imagination could run riot in a world
of King Arthur and Excalibur. And of course the Mound brought images of Ancient Britons, because we were
all told it was an ancient burial ground. We regularly visited Cannon Hill Common to feed the ducks, play in
the children’s play park and have tea and cake in the pavilion. My grandmother lived in Raynes Park, so we
often walked past the ponds and the play park and crossed the main road to Dupont Road, her street. Quite
impossible now with the modern day traffic.
Birthday parties were celebrated in style with a small group of friends, in our own homes. We would be in our
best clothes, with the girls wearing their party dresses. Everyone was always well behaved , but we all had lots
of fun playing games such as ‘Squeak piggy squeak’, ‘Oranges and lemons’, ‘I sent a letter to my love’ and
‘Here we go round the Mulberry bush’. I once attended a friend’s birthday party in Cherrywood Lane with a
cine projector set up to watch Laurel and Hardy films – that was a real treat. The birthday tea was usually a
spread of sandwiches and small cakes, with jelly and blancmange afterwards, and of course the home-made
birthday cake with candles. We thanked our host politely as our mothers came to collect us. We went home
without party bags or loads of prizes and were expected to write a thank you letter to our host.
At Christmas we went to my uncle’s house in Streatham to spend time with all the family. The last bus on
Christmas Day left from Upper Morden at midday, so we had to make sure we were there in good time,
laden with all our presents. It was always a treat to go to Croydon on the bus for Christmas shopping and
to visit Father Christmas at Gamage’s department store. I remember the excitement of going into a long
narrow room constructed like a railway carriage where you sat and watched scenic views passing by the
window and you imagined you were travelling on a train journey to the North Pole and Father Christmas.
(We didn’t go at any other time, except perhaps to have my feet measured for new shoes on the Clarke’s
At other times in the year we went to Upper Morden on the bus for our shopping, or to Streatham where there
was a tea room with special cream buns, or the market in Brixton where, much to my horror, I saw live eels
being chopped up on marble slabs. I remember the shop next to the underground station in Morden that sold
speciality handmade chocolates with swirls of pink or violet coloured fondant on the top, and thinking when
I was grown up I would buy some as a treat. (These were the days when Mum would buy a Mars bar as our
treat and cut it up into thin slices for us all to enjoy!) I remember Woolworths with its parquet flooring and
escalators, and crying once when I lost my parents and had to wait with a member of staff until they were
found. The public toilets at the end of Abbotsbury Road were surrounded by a high hedge and it was difficult
to see which was the Ladies or Gentlemen’s. (Strange to notice that they have now been converted into a
café.) There was a café opposite, where my mother would often see famous film stars en route to the film
Going to the cinema was a weekly event: the Odeon in Morden was an Art Deco icon of modernity that seemed
to say ‘This is a modern, forward-looking town’. We also visited the cinema at Shannon Corner, and one in
Raynes Park which had a restaurant off the foyer. Going to the cinema was our main entertainment. With a
continuous programme of two films and news we could go at any time and stay as long as we liked. The B film
was usually a comedy or Western. An annual event was the pantomime at the nearest theatre, in Wimbledon.
We always went for a cup of tea and a doughnut in Woolworths before the matinée. At the store in Wimbledon
there were high bar stools at the tea bar that were fun to sit on.
School of course played a significant role in children’s lives for most of the year. When I was small, Mum
would push me in my pushchair past Hillcross Primary School’s high privet hedge and I could not wait to start.
In those days you did not start school until you were five years old; there were no pre-schools. Just to the left
of the main entrance was the caretaker’s cottage and the road was open through the school grounds to the other
side, so that parents and the public could pass through. The playing field had a small copse on the left hand
side where we would go with our classroom chairs to sit for a story on sunny summer afternoons. At the far
end of the field was the bank where the air raid shelters were and we were told specifically not to go there. The
boys teased the girls that there were blood suckers living there as they zoomed off pretending to be German
bombers. The girls would play ‘Two balls’ on the playground walls, ‘Five-stones’ sitting on the playground
floor, or skip singly or with two girls holding the rope as one by one they jumped in chanting the rhymes of the
day. Hop scotch was another favourite.
I remember very little about the infants’ school, but the juniors’ was a
very happy place to be (see me in my standard school photo, aged about
10 (right)). Mr Barker was our headmaster and he always gave everyone a
Christmas card. I have kept one all these years. We learned a great deal of
crafts at Hillcross. I remember making a macramé bag for tennis balls, papier
mâché puppets (below), a cross-stitch needle case and a ration book cover.
Mr Pritchard was my favourite teacher.
He had very dark wavy hair and kept
a plimsole [shoe] called Charlie in
the cupboard by his desk. One term
we were finding out about Hannibal
crossing the Alps and I wanted to paint
a picture. It was on such a large sheet
of paper that there was not enough
room to paint on it in the classroom so
Mr Pritchard told me I could paint it in the hall. Needless to say, my painting is still tucked away, my parents
having kept it in their loft for many years. Another memory is not so happy and that is of my first year in the
juniors’. We were queuing up at the teacher’s desk, as we did in those days, when a boy in my class pushed in
front of me and I pushed him back. At which point he screamed out that I had pushed him and I was asked if I
had, but not asked why. I was taken up to the deputy head in the top class room and in front of the whole class
I had my knuckles whacked with a ruler. My friends were very kind and came to hug me at playtime. I have
kept in touch with my friend Joan all these years, but I still remember other names from those days – Susan
Chilcott, Jennifer Channel, Frances Walker, Peter Silk. I wonder where they are now.
We had such lovely neighbours on each side of 84 Cherrywood Lane, Mr and Mrs Coker with daughter Audrey
at 82 and Mr and Mrs Polly, son Dick, daughter Betty and Auntie at 86. Mr and Mrs Coker had a television
set, very rare in those days. I was invited in to watch Heidi, a children’s serial on BBC. Mrs Coker would
place a small child’s chair in front of the television set for me and leave me to watch the programme on my
own. Sometimes I would be invited to stay for radish sandwiches. Their daughter Audrey asked me to be her
bridesmaid and it was such a thrill to be part of her special day. The reception was held at Morden Park club
house when the house was in its former glory. In 1953 Mr and Mrs Coker took me to central London to see
the decorations for the coronation. Mr Coker put me on his shoulders and we walked down the Mall through
a sea of people. It was so exciting. (Hillcross Primary gave each pupil a decorated cup and saucer to mark
the Coronation, while Phyllis Atkins gave all her dancing pupils an engraved teaspoon.) Mrs Polly would
sometimes take me in my pram with her two children to Morden Park. She gave me Betty’s outgrown dolls
house and my grandchildren still play with it today. Dick Polly let me ride pillion on his new motor bike round
the block, much to my mother’s dismay!
In those days you saw very few cars on the road: when you did have a car it was kept in a garage to protect it.
Mr Coker had a car and garage at the rear of his house on the corner, and there were several garages at the top
of Cherry Close. A small roundabout in front was where the older children tried out their two wheeled bikes
and the younger ones rode their three-wheelers on the pavement (no small bikes with stabilizers in those days).
My parents were able to buy a car when I was about seven years old, so then we were able to take holidays in
Devon, instead of the bus to Victoria station and a steam train to Margate.
We moved to Kent in 1954 to start a new life. There have been so many changes since then and life is very
different for everyone. Do keep a record for future generations. The early part of my life in Morden feels as if it
happened only yesterday. They were such happy times, and on my return, about twenty years ago, Cherrywood
Lane still had the same feel about it. I was not alone – my best friend from school returned to live in her family
home in Hillcross Avenue when her parents died, while the son of another friend moved to Morden a few years
ago, not far from Cherrywood Lane, and his son starts at Hillcross Primary this autumn.
MHS PUBLICATIONS ELSEWHERE
The British Association for Local History’s Local History News 143 for Spring 2022 reproduced much of Tony
Scott’s article ‘Do Buildings ever Lie about their Age?’ from Bulletin 221. This was one of only a few such
articles selected from a publications list covering the whole country. Welcome publicity!
John Conen, who wrote The little Blitz : The Luftwaffe’s Last Attack on London (Fonthill Media, 2015), is now
writing The Bombing of London 1940-41. The Blitz and its impact on the capital, which will be published this
year. He has asked permission to quote extracts from David Haunton’s articles on ‘Bombs on Merton’ from
Bulletins 165-168 (2008); granted, of course.
Peter Hopkins’ Medieval Morden: The Manorial Economy (2020) was enthusiastically reviewed by David
Stone in Surrey Archaeological Collections Vol.104. His two pages of comments include the following :
‘This book, which captures [Peter’s] dedication, perseverance, ingenuity and skill, is an example of local
history at its best. … As it is based on original medieval documents, this book contains a wealth of data that will
not be found elsewhere. … A notable feature … [is] the beautifully clear images of documents that sit alongside
translations of them. … The author has been exceptionally resourceful in tracking down the meaning of each
agricultural and accounting term, providing Latin transcriptions of individual words and phrases in the text….
This book is consequently much more than just a repository of information: it is a guide to the nature of the
historical process itself. … will be of considerable use to any student embarking on their own study of manorial
accounts.’ Etc. etc. etc.
[Peter thinks this is ‘generous’, but we agree with Katie Hawks that this is a ‘very good and faithful review!’]
NORMA COX discovers some unusual parts of our industrial history with
THE VIEW FROM ‘THE WOODMAN’S BRIDGE’
In my walks from SW17 to SW19 I look out for industrial history. Recently I
came across a working factory in a north Merton industrial estate in Endeavour
Way, SW19 8UH, which manufactured a product that I knew from my working
days as a pharmacist. The factory belonged to A Nelson & Co and the product
was ‘Arnicare’ arnica cream (right). The industrial site of the factory was
relatively modern and Nelsons moved there in 1983.1 My first view of their factory was from the pavement on
Woodman’s Bridge in Durnsford Road. The Bridge, now
called the Durnsford Road Bridge, was originally named
after the near-by Woodman public house, which is still
there (right). The Woodman pub, built in 1898, may have
been named as such because of the many trees that grew
thereabouts.2 My husband’s old firm Stanton Redcroft,
Thermal Analysts of Copper Mill Lane, used the function
room of the Woodman for their social gatherings from the
late 1970s to the early 1980s.3 Woodman’s Bridge allows
pedestrians and the busy Durnsford Road to pass over the
many railway lines of south-west London, the lines which
take trains from Waterloo out to Surrey and beyond. A few
paces to the north of Woodman’s Bridge, on the east side
of Durnsford Road, can be seen the Wimbledon Traincare
Depot, once the site of the Durnsford Power Station.4 Moving on to the bridge one can see on the right many
industrial buildings in the estate below, such as the tall silos of Hanson’s (ready-mixed) Concrete plant with
their ‘space-age’ appearance (left) and the blue roof
of the R G Jones building (the pioneer sound and
record company which was originally in Morden).
Southward over Woodman’s Bridge can be seen
Nelson’s factory at 5-9 Endeavour Way. Looking
south along Durnsford Road, Endeavour Way is on
the east side, while on the west side are residential
houses. The location of industry near housing has
interested me for a long time, as I wondered which
was first the factories or the housing? Endeavour
Way factories and the residential houses are close
to the River Wandle and Wandle land had been
industrialised for many centuries with the Wandle’s
mills, therefore the industry came first.
A Nelson & Co
Nelson is a British alternative-medicine company with subsidiaries in Germany and the United States of
America. It is Europe’s oldest and the UK’s largest manufacturer of homeopathic preparations. The company
controls three business names – A Nelson & Co, Nelson Russell Holdings Ltd and A Nelson.5 The Nelson
factory has two colourful signs on the west-facing
factory wall, one showing the Nelson name and the
other showing NelsonBach. The entrance of the
factory is in Endeavour Way and it has a pleasant
frontage with a small porch and the A Nelson &
Co name above it. The front of the Nelson building
(right) has many windows on two floors, most of
which were open on the day that I visited and I
noticed a strong smell of solvent floating out from
the windows. The company head-quarters are at 83
Wimbledon Parkside SW19 6LP.6
In 1860 Ernst Louis Armbrect a German apotheker [apothecary] who had studied Samuel Hahnemann’s
homeopathy in Germany, moved to London. He initially worked as a chemist’s assistant and then opened a
homeopathic pharmacy in Ryder Street.7 Armbrect married Charlotte Nelson in 1866 and soon began trading as
Armbrecht Nelson & Co. When he died in 1912 his son Ernst Louis Nelson Armbrecht inherited the business
and in 1917, possibly due to anti-German feeling in Great Britain, he changed his name to Ernst Louis Nelson
Nelson. He had been born in England and was a British citizen and consequently the firm later became
abbreviated to A Nelson & Co. In 1890 the company had a homeopathic pharmacy in Duke Street, Mayfair,
and up to 1970 the manufacturing was done in the basement of the Duke Street premises.8 The Duke Street
shop was shown in Kelly’s 1978.9 Today the shop has moved from 73 Duke Street to 87 Duke Street.
In the 1970s the company moved to Brixton and later to Wimbledon. In the 1990s a second pharmacy was
opened in Dublin and this business closed at the end of June 2012. The company was owned by the same
family for over a hundred years but sadly the remaining descendants of the founding family were killed in the
Staines Air crash in 1972. Mr Dick Wilson took over the company and under his management Nelson began
production of their first OTC [over the counter] homeopathic products.
Dr Edward Bach was a doctor who was very interested in homeopathy and he supplied the Nelson’s Homeopathic
Pharmacy with the ‘mother tinctures’ so that they could make-up stock bottles of his popular ‘Bach Flower
remedies’ for sale. Nelson’s took over Bach initially through a dedicated bottling-plant in Abingdon, which
later moved to Wimbledon.
In December 2008 the Prince of Wales announced a partnership between the Duchy Originals brand and
Nelson’s to produce a line of herbal remedies. In 2009 Nelson’s was named Best UK Family business with a
£25million per annum turnover. In 2020 there were celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the founding of
Nelson’s with a float at the Lord Mayor’s Show in London.
All Nelson products are manufactured in Wimbledon and then exported around the world. ‘Rescue Remedy’ is a
combination of five Bach Flower essences and sold worldwide in liquid, cream, pastilles and night-formulations.
‘Bach Original Flower Remedies’ is a set of thirty-eight flower essences created by Dr Bach. ‘Nelson’s Arnicare’
(Arnileve in the US) is a range of topical creams based on the Arnica herb which is used to treat bruises. ‘Nelson’s
Teetha’ is a teething preparation for babies; ‘Nice n Clean’ is a head-lice treatment; ‘Spatone’ is an iron-rich water
which is sourced in North Wales. Finally there are the ranges of ‘Nelson’s Homeopathy’ and the ‘Pure & Clear’
skincare products. Nelson’s also have a licensed range of goods which they make for other companies, such as
Boots the Chemist own-label homeopathy products and teething granules, Tesco’s own-label homeopathy, and
the Duchy Originals herbal remedies.10
R G Jones Sound-Engineering
Another business operating in Endeavour Way SW19 8UH is R G Jones
at no.16, a business which started elsewhere in 1926. Their logo,
proudly displayed on the otherwise undistinguished building, is seen
right. This business is considered to be one of the oldest sound reinforcement companies in the world and it is
still in operation today. The recording studio of R G Jones moved from Morden to Beulah Road, Wimbledon,
in 1968.11 Another source, Clive Whichelow, quoted 1969 for the studio’s relocation: he told the story of R
G (Ronald Godfrey) Jones Ltd and the recording studio in MHS Bulletin 216, although the article does not
mention the Endeavour Way site.12 The R G Jones business which offered equipment-rental operations, sales,
installation projects and the recording-studio split up in the 1970s and 1980s, and when Ronald Godfrey
Jones died he passed the company to his son Robin.13 The recording studio, which hosted many famous names
such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and Cliff Richard, carried on until 9 November 2001.14 However,
Sarah Gellas of R G Jones has suggested that the studio stayed in Wimbledon until 1999; she believes that R
G Jones moved to Endeavour Way in 1994.15 In addition she said that the rental side was based in Hallowell
Close, Mitcham, while the studio, installations, telecoms and accounts were in Beulah Road from 1968. When
the rental side moved to Endeavour Way it brought over the installations and the accounts team and left the
studio in Beulah Road. On 7 July 2004 there was a management buy-out.16 Today the company is extremely
successful and provides sound-enhancement systems at many famous events such as the Glastonbury Festival
and Wimbledon Tennis. R G Jones today also offers Event Productions and Live Streaming to their facilities.17
R G Jones will celebrate 100 years in business in 2026.
From my walks around south west London I discovered the once-named Woodman’s Bridge (today Durnsford
Road Bridge) in the north of the borough of Merton, with the industrial estate of Endeavour Way spreading
out beneath it. This industrial estate was tidy and successful and had company names that were well known.
The two companies studied in this article, A Nelson & Co and R G Jones had made their own history as they
became successful. Their success stories enrich Merton’s history.
Thanks are due to Edmund Cox for taking the first four photographs in June 2022. The RG Jones photo was
taken by Norma Cox in July 2022.
1 Personal communication Sarah Gould Local Studies, London Borough of Merton. 2022
2 Hillier,Matthew. http://www. wimbledonsociety.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Dec20_WS_NL-1.pdf
3 Cox, Norma Stanton Redcroft – a Thermal Analytical Company and the Copper Mill Site in Wimbledon. SIHG Surrey
Industrial History Group Newsletter, May 2022:No 232 pp.12-20
4 Hillier,Matthew (as note 2) 2020
5 Gould, Sarah (as Note 1) 2022
6 Gould, Sarah (as Note 1) 2022
8 (as Note 7)
9 Kelly’s Post Office Directory London, 1977
10 All information in this and the previous three paragraphs, as Note 7
12 Whichelow, Clive ‘RG Jones Recording Studios’ in Bulletin 216, MHS December 2020, pp.8 & 9
14 (as Note 12) p.9
15 Personal communication Sarah Gellas at R G Jones. 11 July 2022
16 (as Note 13)
17 (as Note 11)
DAVE HAUNTON meanders while musing on
THE WOODMAN FIGURE
I am intrigued by the carved figure of the Woodman (see p.1) that graces the front of the pub of that name in
Durnsford Road. Public houses almost always have a painted sign, occasionally in very low relief, but figures
in the round such as this one are most unusual. Presumably carved of wood, he carries the tools of his trade –
an axe for timber-work, and a sheathed small saw, threaded through his belt, for dealing with smaller branches
and brushwood. He puffs on a short black (clay?) pipe, while his small dog sits at his feet. He is dressed in a
long-sleeved jacket, muffler, trousers and calf-high boots. The jacket has multiple buttons on the tightly turned-
back cuffs, not entirely practical for a labouring man, and his belt buckle is polished brass, so I wonder if he is
actually in his Sunday best. His circular flattish hat has a brim all round, maybe of the ‘one size fits all’ type that
I imagine was the prize offered for the single-sticks contest at the ‘Veast’ in an early chapter of Tom Brown’s
Schooldays. The figure has obviously been repainted, at least once, with some attention to detail (the little dog
retains his white chest blaze) but not ferociously so (five buttons on his right cuff, six on his left).
Which brings me to the question of date. The present pub was built in 1898, so presumably our Woodman was
carved by that date, but I wonder if he was actually produced rather earlier. His trousers cannot be used to date
him, as they were typical wear for the middle and lower class male, and had been for some centuries. (Upper-
class men usually wore breeches in the 17th and 18th centuries – the Duke of Wellington was famously once
denied entry to a fashionable salon because he was wearing trousers rather than breeches.) On the other hand,
the colour of our Woodman’s coat is typical of a type of linen cloth that becomes very pale green when exposed
to sunshine. So he is wearing a linen jacket, which could well be taken as Sunday-best – but when?
Are all those buttons more typical of the 18th rather than the 19th century? Would some kind expert in historical
dress enlighten me?
And would I be alone in mis-recalling a line ‘Woodman, woodman, spare that tree / chop not a single chop’
from a politically incorrect 78rpm record produced in the 1930s by Phil Harris, a humorous American actor
and singer? The chorus in fact starts ‘Woodman, woodman, spare that tree / Touch not a single bough’. The
song has been subject to many variations since it was first written by George Pope Morris in 1830.
NEWS FROM THE CHAPTER HOUSE
MERTON PRIORY STUDY AFTERNOON 30 July 2022
We had four specialist speakers. (A summary should appear in the next Bulletin.) One speaker enquired how
many copies of his off-print he should bring (to place one on each chair) ‘say 20?’ and was considerably
startled to be told ’98 bookings to date’. Almost all of those did attend (below, photo Nicholas Hart).
John Hawks comments: ‘The turnout and support for the event were beyond our expectations, and are a great
encouragement to do more in that direction. Along with many other things, Merton Priory was a centre of
education, and Marcus Beale remarked the other day that this was probably the first time for 500 years that
something like this had taken place in the Chapter House!’ So, History in the making!
THE ANCIENT PRIORY GATEWAY
The ancient priory gateway in Station Road (below left) disappeared after being irreparably vandalised in 1983.
Its oak door frame was rescued by members of the Wandle Industrial Museum, where it has been stored ever
since. However, it is now on permanent display in the Chapter House (below right). Merton Priory Trust are
most grateful to Paul McGarry for arranging the transport of this precious and very heavy relic (centre).
ELAINE MCCORMACK recalls what Ed Dutton suggests might be
THE WEST BARNESUDA TRIANGLE
I greatly enjoyed Edward Dutton’s article in the June Bulletin. I lived at no.91 Marina Ave for 6 years in my
youth, but my mother lived there from 1968 until 2019, and my aunt at no.89 for a mere 30 years until her death.
My Mum and I recognise many of the issues and complexities raised. As she got older and needed more
help and input from carers, volunteers, etc, a couple of additional difficulties arose. The first was that our GP
(West Barnes Surgery, geographically very much in Merton) is actually a Kingston GP, so all hospital or clinic
appointments were over in Kingston or New Malden, and communication between Kingston GPs and Merton
Social Services or Community Health Care was complex and subject to delays. (This may well be better now –
but I, now living on the other side of Grand Drive and retired, finally changed my GP from that excellent surgery
to another, technically as well as geographically, in Merton and life is easier.) People had difficulty locating the
house – some because, in spite of written warnings lost in notes, they found themselves at New Malden Station,
rather than Motspur Park Station. Others typed the post code into their SatNavs, and found themselves in the
car park of the cemetery across the park. If people phoned to make an appointment, they were surprised to be
subjected to an interrogation about how they were travelling, and to receive advice based on car or rail. Some
still slipped through the net, and we got used to forlorn phone calls saying ‘I’m at …, where are you?’
WANDLE VALLEY FORUM remind us of WANDLE FORTNIGHT (10 – 25 September), the annual
celebration of the Wandle run by the community for the community.
For the calendar, see www.wandlevalleyforum.org.uk. This includes:
MITCHAM HERITAGE DAY 10 September 2022 Mitcham Cricket Green, Mitcham CR4 4LA, which
continues a long tradition of local organisations offering people the chance to see our local area and heritage
in a new way. Planned attractions include a multi-site outdoor exhibition called Heritage Shorts; Guided
walks; Talks; Self-guided visits to selected Cricket Green gems; events provided by local organisations.
CLIVE WHICHELOW and PETER HADFIELD continue the Hadfields Story
CLAES OLDENBURG’S LONDON KNEES
[The whimsical pop art sculptor Claes Oldenburg (1929-2022) died recently. His obituary in The Times for 20
July 2022 mentions his plan for replacing the Eros statue in Piccadilly Circus by a giant pair of women’s knees.
But… (dramatic drumroll) we know more….]
The mentions of Hadfield’s paint firm in the June Bulletin reminded Clive Whichelow of his first job. In
September 1968 this was in the office at Hadfields, where he noted that an artist had given them lots of models
of knees (!). He remembers going into a large room on the shop floor where they had all these models of knees
lined up waiting to be painted. Researching it recently on the internet, he thought the artist must have been
Claes Oldenburg, who was very well known at the time.
This unlikely story was confirmed by Peter Hadfield, who pointed out that he was 14 in 1968 when these
artworks were created, and away at boarding school. However, a couple of years earlier, on one of his Saturday
morning visits to the Works with his father (who was Company Secretary, and often went in to do work in peace
and quiet) he was shown some shop mannequins for which the Lab had developed a more realistic paint system
than had been available previously. Perhaps it was because of this that Claes Oldenburg had commissioned the
Works to paint his series of knees. This was typical of the firm; the lab had a very good reputation for solving
particular technical problems for clients. Another innovation that Hadfields were working on at the time was
electrostatic spraying, which reduces wastage in the spraying process by charging the spray particles and
attracting them to the target via an electrical connection. (Peter has no knowledge of any family connection
The Knees are 15-ins tall models of adult human legs, between mid-thigh and mid-calf, ‘from mini-skirt to
fashion-boot’ said the artist, mounted in pairs on a single acrylic base, each pair accompanied by a portfolio of
twenty-one prints, imagining the knees as proposed colossal monuments situated around London (see overleaf),
and other items related to Oldenburg’s ‘The Knees as London Monument’ project. The model was Hannah Wilke,
a feminist American painter, sculptor, photographer, video artist and performance artist. The art world dates
the Project to 1966 or
1968 (and will charge you
£38,000 for the set), but is
agreed that the sculptures
were of ‘cast flexible latex
coated in polyurethane’,
so we can presume the
Hadfields painting was of
the polyurethane coating.
There were at least 85
sets of knees produced;
Clive saw ‘a large number
of them on the floor of
quite a large room, which
may well have been all
of them. It was quite a
bizarre and surreal sight!’
As an odd coincidence, in March
1969 Clive went on to work at design
agency Wolff Olins, who had done the
corporate identity work for Hadfields a
couple of years before. Peter believes
that, ironically, the rebranding exercise
with Wolff Olins played a part in the
downfall of the firm; in an attempt
to become one of the ‘high street’
paint brands, the costs of rebranding,
television advertising and the
introduction of acrylic paint to the UK
bankrupted the previously successful
and profitable family firm. Should
anyone like to investigate this further,
the company archive is held at Surrey
Explore further by following the link Clive found to the website of the Museum of Modern Art in New York:
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Please see the MHS website regarding how this concerns your personal data.
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