Category Archives: Cricket Green Conservation Area

1973 : Park Place Saved – Brenley Doomed

From Mitcham News & Mercury, 14th December 1973, page 1.

Park Place Saved – Brenley Doomed

Storm over the ‘Stately homes’

TWO of Mitcham’s “stately homes” have become the centre of the preservation storm. One has just been temporarily reprieved but the other is doomed for demolition.

Saved – for a while at least – is Park Place, once a highly desirable mansion set in parkland off Commonside-west. The council are reconsidering their earlier decision that it is not worth preserving.

Doomed is Brenley, a Victorian villa, off Commonside-east, at present used as a children’s home.

The Social Services Committee are to bulldoze ahead with their plans to pull it down, despite strong Tory claims led by councillor Mrs Iris Derriman, that this is expensive and needless destruction.

Councillor Peter Casey led the so far successful battle to save Park Place.

“I know the building is not of considerable architectural merit but it is on the supplementary list of these buildings and is in a conservation area.”

Although the majority of objections to its preservation had been on the grounds of costs and that it was not worth saving, he felt it had a certain character and could possibly serve the borough as offices.

“I know that the Greater London Council feel that it should be preserved,” he said.

Councillor Alan Jones angrily pointed out that if the GLC felt that strongly about the building then “they should dig their hands in their pockets and pay for it.”

WASTE

“It was strongly felt by the committee concerned that on all grounds it was not worthy of retention. There is no useful purpose in retaining it. It will be a sheer waste of time.”

The Education Committee who are currently using Park Place as a storage centre for equipment, agreed to reconsider their decision.

But Brenley, a smaller house had its death sentence confirmed by Social Service Chairman Miss Sheila Knight, who swept aside Tory pleas that so much money had been spent on its interior, including central heating that, as Councillor Mrs Derriman claimed, “you are pulling down a perfectly good building.”

“I agree we have spent a lot of money on Brenley but this is the trouble – we could go on spending money in attempts to get it up to the standard it should be for modern child care thinking.

“I think it is time to take a more realistic look at the situation – the present house parents who have given long and devoted service are nearing a well earned retirement and then we are going to have difficulty in attracting the kind of young married couple we need to run this children’s home.”

For despite the council’s efforts to modernize the interior it was still not up to a standard which would give the couple privacy when they were off duty.

A modern building would answer the needs both of the children in care and the family needs of those who looked after them.

Councillor Mrs Iris derriman remembered the recent demolition of The Croft, another old Mitcham villa used by the council as a nurses’ home until it was pulled down earlier this year.

“Now we are talking about removing another perfectly good building. What on earth are we doing? Brenley is a very pleasant building,” she said.

St Peter & St Paul Roman Catholic Primary School

School whose address is Cricket Green, Mitcham, CR4 4LA. Its entrance from that road is between the Mary Tate Almshouses and number 40.

1954 OS map

The road had previously been called Lower Green East until 1944, when it was renamed Cricket Green.

According to 1 The Cricket Green, page 113 :

The Roman Catholic primary school St Peter and St Paul was rebuilt in 1974, replacing the original chapel school building erected in 1861 on land given by William Simpson Jr.

This OS map from 1910 shows the outline of the school building, its entrance being between the Almshouses and the Britannia pub shown as P.H.

1910 OS map

Kelly and Post Office directories from the late 19th and early 20th centuries state that the school was probably built around 1867, for 80 children. It’s worth noting that the Catholic church was built later than the school, in 1889. The directory of 1912 said that the school was enlarged in 1897, for 148 children, and had an average attendance of 123. The 1912 directory said that the school was enlarged again in 1908 for 180 children. Also in that directory was a list of the six school managers, and their clerk:

James Douglas DREWETT, Ravensbury, Upper Green, Mitcham
Bernard HAYWARD, Post office, London Road, Mitcham
Rev. Bernard W. KELLY, St. Anthony’s Hospital, London Road, North Cheam
Berrill Henry MAGUIRE, The Beeches, London Road, Lower Mitcham
Rev. Joshua POOLEY, The Presbytery, Cranmer Road, Mitcham
William F. J. SIMPSON, Park place, Commonside West, Mitcham

Clerk to Managers, William James DICKISSON, Trent House, 87 Melrose Avenue, Mitcham

The directories also gave the head mistress in charge of the school, as shown in this table, where the years are the directory entries.

YEARS Name
1874 and 1878 Miss Mary A. PARKS
1880 Miss Mary CONWAY
1891 Miss Mary Ann RIGBY
1896 Miss Elizabeth BRYCE
1898, 1901 and 1902 Miss DAWSON
1911, 1912, 1913 and 1915 Miss Annie DERHAM
1918 Miss Elizabeth DAVEY

Miss Davey started teaching in 1887, according to this news article from 1933 which reported on her retiring from head mistress.

A WORTHY TEACHER

Miss Davey, the esteemed head mistress of Mitcham Catholic Day School, is retiring to well-merited leisure after 46 years of teaching. She has put the best years and the best efforts of her life into this school, and she has the consolation of knowing that she has not spent herself in vain. When she leaves at the end of February she will take with her the united good wishes of the priest, the parents, and the children for her devoted service.

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 6th January, 1933, page 1.


The name of the school in the directories was either the Lower Mitcham Catholic School, or the Mitcham Catholic Day School as in the 1933 news item.

Listed in the 1971 phone book as S.S. Peter & Paul R.C. Primary, Cricket Green, telephone 01-648 1459.


Merton Memories Photos

Catholic chapel that was demolished when school was rebuilt in 1974
1970 school playground
undated colour photo of school from Cricket Green

Eric Montague Slides
A 1966 photo of the Sheila Shaw horse riding school, at number 40 next door to the Catholic school, shows part of the entrance and its notice board, that is headed ‘Ss Peter & Paul’s Catholic School’.


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