Lower Green Public Conveniences

Built around 1929 underground, opposite the Burn Bullock, and behind the water trough.

The entrances to the underground toilets for the Ladies (on the right) and Gentlemen (on the left), is shown in this clip from around 1950, from photo of the Burn Bullock pub on Merton Memories, reference Mit_Pubs_14-2, copyright London Borough of Merton.

The gas lamp post shown between the toilets in this photo was added to the local list by Merton Council on 12th July, 2017, as a result of a campaign by Mitcham Cricket Green Community & Heritage.

The need for a public convenience at this spot was debated in 1923.

From the minutes of the Mitcham Urban District council
Volume IX April 1923 to March 1924
Pages 291 to 292

Report of Sub-Committee appointed to consider the question of the provision of Public Conveniences.
Meeting held Monday, October 15th, 1923.

Present : Mr. R. F. Langley (Chairman), Messrs. H. J. Davis, J. Fitch and W. H. Parslow.

The Sub-Committee considered the matter referred to them by the Public Health Committee, and beg to submit the following suggestions :-

1. The need for public conveniences in certain parts of Mitcham is becoming more and more apparent every year, and with the constant increase in the number of visitors brought into the district by the omnibus and tramway services it is essential that the matter should be taken in hand at a very early date.

2. The Sub-Committee consider that the most pressing needs are for public conveniences (for both sexes) upon the Fair Green and the Lower Green.

3. The site upon the Fair Green has already been determined by the Council, and the plans of the Surveyor have been the matter is now before the Ministry of Health.

4. The provision of a convenience on the Lower Green is, therefore, in the opinion of the Sub-Committee, the most pressing need at the present time. every day a large number of persons are brought to this spot owing to its being the terminus of a well patronised bus service.

5. The Sub-Committee suggest that the most suitable site for a convenience is upon the triangular piece of ground, now planted as a shrubbery, between the ” Cricketers ” Inn and Messrs. Barclays Bank ; and the Committee further suggest that a convenience constructed upon this site could be of an external design which would be in no way a disfigurement to the Green.

6. The Sub-Committee look upon the provision of a convenience in the vicinity of the omnibus terminus as an essential.

From the minutes of the Mitcham Urban District council, volume XIV, 1928 to 1929, page 124:

32. PUBLIC CONVENIENCE, Lower Green. – It was Resolved, That the Council be recommended to instruct the Surveyor to report as to suitable sites for a public convenience on or adjacent to the Cricket Green.

The council had also considered removing the water trough, but held off until they could get agreement on widening the London Road.

In considering the sites for the toilets, the council considered next to the Cricketers pub, and the island opposite Barclays Bank. Page 201 of the above minutes says:

An overground convenience … would destroy the amenity of this corner of the Cricket Green

The problem with an underground convenice though was the cost, as Riley Schofield concluded:

I would like to point out to the Committee that underground conveniences are a very costly proposition. The site will have to be wholly excavated and carted to tip. The walls must be constructed as retaining walls, and also covered on the outside with asphalte to render the structure waterproof. The roof will have to be constructed of
reinforced concrete and provided with prismatic pavement lights, or, as an alternative, the structure could project 2 feet or so above the ground and be lighted by means of lantern lights. Steps will have to be provided, and these are costly and wasteful of space. Ventilation is also an expensive item. It may be necessary to raise the sewage by
mechanical means, necessitating a constant charge for the supply of water.

The decision to go with an underground convenience, behind the water trough, was made and reported on pages 276 to 277, although the Surveyor was asked to provide estimates for a partially underground as well wholly underground. Page 451 shows that his estimates were close, £2,100 for partially vs £2,500 for wholly underground, and he recommended the latter. Page 457 shows that the council agreed with his recommendation.

In volume XV, 1929 to 1930, page 104, the council asked the Ministry of Health for a loan of £3,500 to build the underground public convenience. Adjusted for inflation, this is equivalent to around £200,000 in 2017 values. Page 207 shows that the Ministry approved the loan and so the Surveyor was instructed to put it out to tenders. Page 311 reports that 11 firms had submitted tenders for the job, and that the Horley firm of Mr J. CREWDSON had been accepted, for the amount of £2,672. The Horley Local History Society has more on this builder, who also has a road there named after him.

No further details are available in council minutes as to when the convenience was completed.

From the minutes of the Mitcham Urban District council
Volume XVI, 1930 to 1931
Page 178

9. PUBLIC CONVENIENCE The Surveyor reported that he would find it necessary to engage the services of a full time attendant at the public convenience on the Lower Green, and that the annual cost thereof would amount to £352, this being a sum somewhat in excess of the original estimate. Resolved, That the Surveyor be authorised to make the necessary appointment.

Minutes of meetings held by the Mitcham Urban District Council are available on request from the Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.

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