Category Archives: Agriculture

Tyrell’s Poultry Farm

A poultry farm that was in Gorringe Park.

According to Eric Montague, writing about St Barnabas church in his Mitcham Histories : 2 North Mitcham, page, 109:

During preparation of the site for the new church what remained of Gorringe Park stables, then known as Tyrell’s Farm, was demolished.

He also said that a clock, removed from one of the old farm buildings, was installed in the church tower through the generosity of Joseph Wilson and his wife, who were living at Gorringe Park House at the same time as the church was built.

The 1904 street directory describes Gorringe Park Avenue as walked from the London Road:

…. here is Bruce Road
Charles FROST (Gorringe Park Lodge)

Christ Church Church Room

Christleib T. LIPSHYTZ (Gorringe Park House)

The Surrey & Sussex Poultry Farm Limited

Arnold & Arnold, veterinary surgeons (Gorringe Park)

The spelling of the surname differs in the 1910 electoral register, which shows William TYRRELL at Poultry farm, Gorringe park. Henry TYRELL is shown at 5 Thirsk Road.

The 1911 street directory, also described from west to east, now shows William Tyrell poultry farm:

…. here is Bruce Road
St Barnabas District Mission Church

St Barnabas’ Men’s Club (W.G. WOODWARD, hon. sec.)

Reverend Christleib T. LIPSHYTZ (Gorringe Park House)

William TYRELL poultry farm

Arnald & Arnald, veterinary surgeons (Gorringe Park)

This can be compared to the 1911 OS map:

1911 OS map

The assumption then is that field numbers 574 and/or 575 were the locations of the poultry farm, with 571 being the vets.

The path that is shown between Gorringe Park House and the poultry farm is followed today by the course of Edenvale Road, as shown on the georeferenced OS map on the NLS website:


During World War 1, three members of the Tyrell family were called up and went to the Military Service Tribunal to ask for exemption. Reports of the tribunals in local newspapers have been summarised by the Merton Historical Society

3rd March 1916

“My business, run under agreement, cannot be run without my supervision,” wrote Mr. Albert Tyrell, aged 31 years, keeping a poultry farm at Mitcham, and who is a pig breeder and butcher at Streatham.
Claim for exemption was disallowed.

Leonard Tyrell, 28, a poultry farm keeper and pig breeder, whose mother is dependent on him, claimed total exemption but was only given a month.

8th September 1916

John William Tyrell, 23, a pig and poultry dealer, was quite unable to get anyone to carry on his business if he went. This was his fourth Tribunal appearance. His father, aged 58, suffered from a strained heart, and had been medically certified as unfit for heavy manual labour. The Chairman thought there was no reason why he should not turn to and do what he could; we were all now doing things that once we had given up doing. One more month, to be final.


Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Bordergate Dairy

Dairy that was in Wilson Avenue.

Referred to in this 5th January 1962 article from the Mitcham News & Mercury on the death of local dairyman.

RETIRED dairyman Mr. Arthur Court (aged 69), Victoria Road, Mitcham, who died suddenly last week, was a well-known local personality.

He went into the dairy business after leaving school at Killick’s Lane — now St. Mark’s Road — and could remember driving cows to graze on Figges Marsh when he was only 10. He celebrated his golden wedding with his 70-year-old wife in February.

During the First World War he served in the Royal Flying Corps as a cook. After, he took over Bordergate Dairy at Wilson Avenue, Mitcham.

Among his eight grandchildren were Tommy Court, a Kingstonian footballer, David Court, who is with Arsenal, and Elizabeth West of Mitcham Athletic Club.

Probate record on Ancestry shows his death was on 27th December 1961, and he lived at 141 Victoria Road. He left £2,702 7s. to his widow.

Pig Bins and Tottenham Pudding

Food waste was collected in pig bins, metal dustbins in the street. The waste, such as potato peelings and plate scrapings, were sent to a plant for boiling into a feed for pigs, called Tottenham Pudding.

From the Mitcham & Tooting Advertiser, 4th February, 1954

Pig bins to be abolished

Waste food is now ‘unprofitable’

Kitchen waste is no longer to be collected in Mitcham, and the council’s
street pig bins are to be removed.

Commenting on this at Thursday’s meeting of Mitcham Council, Aid. C.A. Norris (Ind.) congratulated the Public Health Committee on their decision to abolish what he described as “the pig-bin nuisance, and the now unprofitable collection of kitchen waste generally.”

VOLUNTARY COLLECTION

The committee made their decision after receiving a letter from the
Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries stating that the Government had decided that the salvage of waste food by local authorities would in future be on a voluntary basis.

The Minister, the letter continued, was prepared to revoke individual
directions for the salvage of kitchen waste should local authorities wish
him to do so. although he hoped they would give the matter careful consideration before deciding to disband their waste food services.

Crusoe Farm Dairy

Clip from undated photo on Merton Memories, reference Mit_​Work_​Industry_​15-1, copyright London Borough of Merton.

From the Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail – Wednesday 24th May 1922, via the British Newspaper Archives.

Romance of a Dairy.

A descendant of Capt. Cook, the explorer, and the oldest inhabitant of Mitcham, Mrs Taylor, aged 96, has died in the house in which she established a one-cow dairy 55 years ago. Mrs Taylor named her dairy “Crusoe Farm Dairy.” There is a local tradition that Daniel Defoe once lived at Tooting Hall, close by.

In a few years Mrs Taylor built up one of the largest milk businesses in South London. It is still carried on under the same name. Up to last Christmas Mrs Taylor was active and in full possession her faculties.

This OS map from 1895 shows Crusoe Farm and Tooting Hall.

1895 OS map

The 1911 census shows Elizabeth Taylor, aged 84, widowed, address: Crusoe Farm, Arnold Road Tooting Junction, Mitcham. She was born in Modbury, Devon and was married 41 years and had 5 children, of which 3 were still alive in 1911. Only one other occupant is shown, her son John Henry Taylor, 52, carpenter.


Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

1928 : Pigs starved to death

From the Norwood News of Friday 29th June 1928, via the British Newspaper Archive:

PIGS STARVED TO DEATH.
`APPALLING CRUELTY’ AT MITCHAM.
STOKER SENT TO PRISON.

” The evidence is quite clear. You have been guilty of most appalling cruelty. All the magistrates are agreed that they never heard a more revolting case. You will have to go to hard labour for six weeks.”

Sir Arthur Spurgeon, chairman of the Croydon County Bench, made these remarks on Wednesday to XXXX, of 249, Church-road, Mitcham, who was summoned on four informations for, being the owner of ten pigs, he permitted and caused unnecessary suffering to them by unreasonably omitting to supply them with food and water at Batsworth-road Allotment Grounds on May 12.

Mr. E. B. Knight, prosecuting, said defendant was employed at the Mitcham Gas Works as a stoker, at a salary of £4 13s. 6d. per week. About three years ago he built some pig sties on his allotment plot at Batsworth-road, and began keeping pigs. On May 12, the sties were inspected by Mr. Rabbetts, the Council’s Nuisance Inspector, who found ten pigs in an absolutely starving condition. In addition, there were the remains of three other pigs which had died, or been killed, and the remains had been eaten by the other pigs.

LEGS PARTLY EATEN.

In one sty there were a sow and two small pigs, and the carcase of a small pig with the back legs partly eaten away, and the skin and remains of another pig. There were six small pigs in the second sty, and the bones of another. In the third sty there was one sow. There should have been 14 pigs altogether. The carcases of three were there, but where the fourth was they did not know.

The great probability was that no food or water had been given to the pigs for about three weeks. They had been shockingly neglected. In the tub or tank there were potato peelings covered with scum not fit for pigs or anything else.

” CALLOUS INDIFFERENCE.”

” It is difficult to understand,” added Mr. Knight, “how anyone could let these pigs starve to death in this unaccountable way. The whole of the stock had to be destroyed. Inspector Scott saw defendant, who told him that, some soap had got into the wash and given the pigs scaldings, which had upset them. A more callous indifference to the suffering of animals could hardly be conceived. When Inspector Scott asked defendant when he had last brought food, the reply was, “I do not know. I have been saving the wash from the house to save expense.”

The particulars given by Mr. Knight as to the condition of the pigs were substantiated by Mr. C. E. Rabbetts, chief sanitary inspector for Mitcham U.D. Council.

Inspector Scott also corroborated.

” 3 WEEKS WITHOUT FOOD.”

Mr. Richard Herbert Evans, a veterinary surgeon, said the pigs had been without food or water for quite three weeks. It was possible for the pigs to have killed the weak ones and eaten their carcases. The entire stock were in too weak and emaciated a condition to have been fit for human consumption, and would never have recovered. The five months’ old pigs, which should have weighed about 85 lbs., were only 20 lbs.; and the seven months, which should have weighed about 120 lbs., were only 30 lbs. The animals must have endured intense suffering.

ACCUSED’S STATEMENT.

Defendant said he could only put it down to a long run of bad luck, and to the fact he had been feeling very unwell. He had sustained big losses with pigkeeping, and became so depressed and worried that he did not know what be was doing. He was vary sorry.

On hearing the sentence, defendant exclaimed, ” I hope you will save me from prison for the sake of my wife and children.”

Sir Arthur: You should have thought of that before.

Rumbold Farm

1867 OS map

Farm house and land off west side of Carshalton Road, on part of what is now the Willow Lane industrial estate. Also known as Rumbold’s Farm or Rumbold Castle, it dated back to the 17th century.

As reported in the London Evening Standard – Saturday 16 February 1861, the Great Ormond Street Hospital, which had been established in 1852, used its Samaritan Fund to obtain for convalescing children

the renovating influence of sea and country air, and in a large measure the committee were indebted for the opportunity of doing this to the kindness of two friends of the charity, one of whom, at Brighton, undertakes the entire cost of the Home which she has established there, whilst Lady Harding receives the children at a moderate charge of Rumbold’s Farm, Mitcham, a home founded by and still under her management.

The archivists at Great Ormond Street Hospital said that from 1869, the Hospital for Sick Children had its own convalescent home at Cromwell house in Highgate, but prior to that, after opening in 1852, they used the Mitcham home run by Lady Harding and another private home in Brighton. From 1927-83 the hospital had a larger ‘Country Branch’ further out in Surrey at Tadworth Court, which continues to operate today as a charitable trust providing respite care services for children.

Morning Post – Monday 22 July 1861 via British Newspaper Archive

Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 28 March 1885 – via British Newspaper Archive

Text of ad:

OLD RUMBOLD FARM, opposite Mitcham Junction Station. Mitcham Common.—For Sale, useful old Building Materials, 12,000 plain tiles, window sashes. six cucumber frames, large copper and furnace, large kitchener, 5-ft. wide, nearly new; also capital American cooking range. 4-ft. wide, nearly new, pump with lead pipe, taps attached, with apparatus for supplying bath or high service, quantity of firewood, &c.

Tom Francis took a photo of the farmhouse, which can be seen on Merton Memories.

Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Henry Fowler, Last of the Lavender Growers

clip from Merton Memories photo, reference Mit_People_57-1, copyright London Borough of Merton.

Lavender grower who lived at Lavender House in Bond Road.

He had a stall at Covent Garden from 1882 to 1919, according to this article in the Hull Daily Mail of Monday 28 July 1919:-

Sweet Lavender.

Mr Henry Fowler, one of the largest dealers lavender in the country, who has large gardens at Mitcham, has retired from the Covent Garden stall which he has occupied for 37 years without a break. The first crop of lavender from Carshalton was cut on Saturday, and a few bunches were on sale in the streets.

After the First World War, the price of lavender had doubled, and was grown outside Mitcham, according to this article from 1920:

Mitcham Lavender Dearer.

The first cut of Mitcham lavender, which is ready for market a fortnight earlier this season, has been made by Mr Henry Fowler, of Lavender Nursery, Bond-road, Mitcham, known as the last of the growers. –

It is 1s 6d a bunch this season, which is more than double the pre-war price. The crop, though small, is in fine bloom. Most of it is grown just outside Mitcham, at Wallington and Carshalton.

From the West Sussex County Times – Saturday 17 July 1920.

In 1921 the price was five times that before the war, he said in this article from the Daily Herald of Monday 18 July 1921:

SWEET LAVENDER

Once Flourishing Trade Now Almost Extinct

For the first time in Mitcham’s history, the lavender season has opened without even a sprig of the sweet-smelling plant being on sale in the town.

“It doesn’t pay to handle it nowadays,” said Henry Fowler, well known at Covent Garden as “the last of the Mitcham lavender kings,” to DAILY HERALD representative, “although never do I remember such a figure it fetched in Garden yesterday — 20s. a bundle. Before the war I sold for 4s.!”

Mr. Fowler, who is 76, used to sell as much as 20 tons a season. All the “Mitcham lavender” (offshoots from the original Mitcham stock) is now grown at Carshalton, a neighbouring place, by a Beddington firm of market gardeners.

There are only about five acres left, but next year, Mr. Fowler said, there would be more grown. “And then I shall dabble in it again.”

Mitcham soil grows the finest lavender in the world, but the market gardeners say that other flowers and vegatables are more profitable. Moreover, all the land will soon commandeered for manufacturing purposes.

Distilling lavender is still a big trade in Mitcham, much of the plant coming from Hitchin, Worthing, and other places.

“It is the first time for 40 years I have never had lavender to sell,” were Mr. Fowler’s parting words.

A large lavender distillery was run by W.J. Bush & Co. Ltd.


Henry Fowler had been born around 1846 in Dunstable, Hertfordshire. When he was 35 he was a florist’s labourer according to the 1881 census, which shows him as living at number 6, Dixon’s Cottages (near the present day Gardeners Arms in London Road). In the 1911 census he is listed as a florist, aged 65, with his wife Anna 72, and daughter Nellie 39.

He died in 1925, as reported locally and in the West Sussex Gazette – Thursday 26 March 1925:

Mr. Henry Fowler, the “Lavender King,” hes died. For over 40 years he supplied Covent Garden market with big consignments of lavender. Since 1922 he had been out of the business.

Note that lavender is still grown in Carshalton.

News articles are from the British Newspaper Archives, which requires a subscription.