“Zalmo” Pickle Works
22 Lewis Road
In 2013, a long lost recipe for piccalilli was discovered.
Its closure in March 1969 was reported in the local newspaper, which referred to it as having been started 44 years previously, i.e. 1925.
Another small firm closes
Rising rates, inability to compete with giant supermarket and manufacturing concerns and wholesale business methods have driven another small firm to the wall.
A 44-year-old Mitcham factory, Robertson’s Pickle and Sauce Works Ltd., Lewis Road, have closed down and the owners have put the property up for sale.
A director, Mr Cyril Robertson, said this week:
“Most of my customers were small grocers – and with the advent of the supermarket they have been forced out of business. So I go down the drain too.
“Rates have risen over the past 12 years, from £56 a year to over £700.
“I can no longer get bottles for my produce – all the glass manufacturing is in the hands of four large concerns and they are only interested in mass production.”
Staff have reduced over the years, and when Robertson’s finally closed its doors in March only nine were declared redundant.
From a lifetime of working for himself in a £50,000 a year business Mr Robertson is now looking for a job.
“I’m too young to retire,” he said. “I’m only 62.”
People from the south coast and up as far as Reading will remember Robertson’s pickles, he added.
“They were the finest in the country – but then I suppose eating habits have changed too. People go out and eat more often – or just buy fish fingers to cook at home.”
Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 6th June, 1969, page 1.
This 1952 OS map shows the pickle factory.
This aerial photo shows the factory in relation to nearby factories and houses.
After closure, a planning application was filed to use the site for the production of plastics. This gives the size of the single-storey works at 7,000 square feet.
From the minutes of the
Town Planning and Development Committee
31st July 1969
497. LEWIS ROAD, MITCHAM — MER. 595/69 — Robertson’s Pickle and Sauce Works Limited — (Section 43 Determination)
— The Borough Surveyor submitted an application for a determination under Section 43 of the Town Country Planning Act, 1962, as to whether the proposed use of Robertson’s Pickle and Sauce Works for the moulding of reinforced plastics involving the use of polyester resins and fibreglass would constitute or involve development requiring planning permission. He explained that the premises (of single-storey construction comprising approximately 7,000 square feet floor area) were situated at the rear of Nos. 12-20, Lewis Road, fronting an access road leading to the Lewis Road recreation ground; stated that they had been used for a considerable number of years for the pickling of vegetables and the making of sauces; and reported that, since the proposed use and the last use both fell within Class IV of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order, 1963, it was clear that express planning permission would not be required.
Resolved — That the Council determine and the applicant be informed that the use, as described, would not constitute or involve development requiring planning permission.
Source: Minutes of Proceedings of the Council and committees, London Borough of Merton, Volume 6 1969-70, page 355
1944 film footage by Bruce Robertson of V1 bomb damage in nearby Glebe Avenue.
Minutes of meetings held by the London Borough of Merton are available on request from the Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.
Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.