Memories of Morden between the Wars

Local History Notes 35: by Betty Whittick

Betty Whittick relives her childhood in Garth Road. Those who heard Betty at our September ‘Chat Show’, or have listened to snippets on our website, have already had a foretaste of these fascinating reminiscences.

From a brief review in MHS Bulletin 185 March 2013)

Click on the image on the right to download a free pdf of this publication.

Memories of Morden between the Wars
Betty Whittick
Memories of Morden between the Wars
Betty Whittick
My father’s parents, William and Nora Sullings, moved to Morden from Wimbledon Park before
the Great War and had a house built in Garth Road. At the time there were two blocks of cottages
towards the London Road end. There was space between the blocks and after the second block
for their allotments, where most people grew their own vegetables.

Opposite there were fields as far as you could see. Further down Garth Road past the Pyl brook

there was a block of cottages called Briar Cottages. They were built in 1900 and had long back
gardens – I think now a lot of these have been left to grow wild. These cottages are still all
standing. Next door was a house called Rose Cottage and a family called Potter lived there.

My grandparents’ house was next to Rose Cottage, and was called Garth Villa. There was a lot
of ground behind the house where grandfather kept pigs which he slaughtered for meat. William
and Nora had seven children, three boys and four girls. My father John was the second son,
and he was taken prisoner in the Great War. He told great stories about his time in the prison
camps. My grandmother used to send him parcels which he shared with his mates. When he
came home, he married his childhood sweetheart. He bought the ground next to his parents and
had a bungalow built, which he called The Cot. While he waited for the bungalow to be built
they rented two rooms in Briar Cottages from a sweet old lady called Granny Baxter.

Garth Villa, later No. 141
Garth Road, now the Garth
House factory site

Uncle James and his assistant
at work in the slaughterhouse

My mother and eldest sister at the gate of The Cot, later No. 165 Garth Road.
The site is now the Burge & Gunson premises

That was where my eldest sister Joan was born. Beryl and I were born in the bungalow. There

were fields next to the bungalow right down to the cemetery. Some of it was common land, and

the gipsies would come with their painted wagons and camp on the common. On the corner

opposite the cemetery was a large pond where we would fish for tiddlers and tadpoles and put

them in a jar.

My sisters with one of our cows

On the side of Garth Road opposite my grandparents’

house were fields where my grandfather would graze

cows and horses – this land was between the present
Mondial House (No.190) and Hayden Court. The Oaks

brothers had a breezeblock
works from the end of the
field to two old cottages. From Hayden Court down to

Salcombe Drive there was an orchard which was owned
by Mr Walters, who had a son called Reggie. If you were
caught scrumping in the orchard you were in trouble.

At the bottom of Garth Road at the Beverley there were

fields. My father rented the ground from, I think, Battersea
Council, and grazed cattle
there. He also had cattle in

Morden Park.

My older sisters Joan and Beryl went to Morden School
opposite St Lawrence’s Church (over a mile from our
house). They walked to school along London Road and
met up with the other children along the way, jumping
ditches and having a great time; it was safe in those days.
As there was no room to eat their sandwiches at school,
and they lived too far to go home for dinner, they sat
amongst the coats in the cloakroom and ate their lunch.
The toilets were across the playground – not good when

it was raining or snowing – the pipes often froze. I only

went to Morden School for a short time. My sisters took

me on the first day. When I got home I said, ‘I’ve seen

what school is like and I won’t be going again’. Of course
I had to go back. When Ridge School (in Ridge Road)
was built in about 1930 as a temporary school built of
wood I started there – it was much nearer.

My sister on her tricycle

Morden schools, London Road:
an early postcard

They were happy carefree days. All sorts
of people called at the door selling their
wares – milk, bread, meat, groceries, wine

and spirits and paraffin. Mr Mares was a

grumpy old man who owned a shop by
the Lord Nelson pub in London Road. You
could buy groceries and sweets from him,
and there was also a tea room there. He had
a lovely lady called Ethel working for him;
she came round on her bike with a basket on
the front to get the orders, and then delivered
them back from her basket. I don’t know
how she managed that heavy old bike. No
Sainsbury’s or Tesco in those days.

Postcard views of the Lord Nelson pub (above)
and the adjoining shop (below)

My mother and eldest sister at the butcher’s mobile shop

North Cheam Baptist iron chapel, Ridge Road

My mother Lizzie was a lovely lady. She

was a member of North Cheam Baptist
Church, which was a tin building on the
corner of Ridge Road where the Van Hire
place is now. As children we went to Sunday
school and the Band of Hope and Brownies
and Guides. Dad didn’t go to church but
made sure we went and would always be
willing to help us with anything to do with
the church or Sunday school. He did not let
us play ball, skip, knit or sew on Sundays.

Only the two ends of Garth Road were made
up – I don’t know why the middle was left
with big puddles and lots of mud. When
we wanted to go out we wore wellingtons
till we got to the cottages at the top of the
road. We then changed into our shoes and
left our boots at the cottages – everyone
knew us and they were pleased to help so
we could go on our way with clean shoes.

In 1935 some land between the brook and
Briar Cottages was sold for building, and
the house where I now live was built. It
was bought for £5 deposit and £3-1-11 a
month repayments.

Garth Road

I always remember when I was
14 my Grandmother died. It

was my first funeral – it was

horses and it was so bumpy and

uncomfortable. When the coffin

was lowered into the grave Mr
Atkins the verger leaned across
and said to my uncle, ‘There
is room for one more’. I was
disgusted. Twenty years later my
uncle was that one more.

My grandparents and three of
their children have a grave in the
churchyard at St Lawrence’s. The
cross is near the new entrance,
but I think the grave is in the
foyer of the new extension. Paul
and Christine Howard from St
Lawrence’s kindly keep the
grave tidy for us, and we are very
grateful to them.

I have seen a lot of changes in
Garth Road, from a muddy lane to
a very busy road. I wouldn’t buy
a house in Garth Road now, but I
won’t be moving either. I think it
must be a record – I was born in
Garth Road in 1926, married and

moved down the road in 1950, The Sullings family grave in St Lawrence’s churchyard
and still live there now.

Briar Cottages in 2012, looking towards the factories on the sites of Garth Villa and The Cot

Extract from 1913/14 Ordnance Survey map
Extract from 1938 Ordnance Survey map
Garth Villa
and piggeries
Garth Villa,
The Cot and
Briar Cottages
Extract from 1913/14 Ordnance Survey map
Extract from 1938 Ordnance Survey map
Garth Villa
and piggeries
Garth Villa,
The Cot and
Briar Cottages
ISBN 978-1-903899-##-#

Published by Merton Historical Society – January 2013
Listen to Betty and others on the Society’s website –

Further information on Merton Historical Society can be obtained from the Society’s website or from

Merton Library & Heritage Service, Merton Civic Centre, London Road, Morden, Surrey. SM4 5DX