Category Archives: Health

1897 Scarlet Fever


George Peter Lawrence, of Ivy Cottage, Church-road, Mitcham, was summoned before the County Magistrates at Croydon on Saturday for exposing his son Charles while he was suffering from scarlet fever, and he was further summoned for failing to notify the medical officer of health that the child was suffering. The defendant’s wife appeared, and said she thought the child had the measles.

Mr. J. Wilson, clerk to the Croydon Rural District Council, who prosecuted, said the Magistrates probably knew there had been a serious epidemic of scarlet fever at in Mitcham, and the authorities had the greatest difficulty in inducing people to take ordinary precautions. In this case the Inspector of Nuisances received information that the child was attending school while suffering from scarlet fever, and the officer on visiting the parents’ house found that the child’s hands were peeling, a very infectious stage of the disease. Mr. Wilson added that this was a very serious ease, inasmuch as the defendant’s wife kept a laundry.

Charles Coleman, of 16, Bailey-road, Mitcham, was summoned for exposing his two children, Richard and Walter, and with failing to notify the medical officer of health that they were suffering from scarlet fever. Mr. Wilson said that in this case the children were also sent to school, where it was discovered that they were suffering from scarlet fever. Dr. Shaw said the children had had the disease for four or five weeks, and were peeling when he saw them. He told the mother that she was not to allow the children out : yet three days later he found them in the street playing with other children.

John Littleton, of 15, Bailey-road, Mitcham, was similarly summoned in respect to his son John. In this case the Inspector found the child playing in the street while suffering from the fever.

Hannah Adaway, of 7, Thorn-terrace, Phipps-bridge-road, Mitcham, was also summoned with regard to her daughter Ada. The defendant pleaded that she had had great domestic trouble, having had five children down with scarlet fever, and been ill herself.

Mr. Byron, in dealing with the cases, remarked upon the serious nature of the offence, and told the defendants that they were liable to a fine of £5 each. Lawrence was fined 5s. and 2s. 0d. costs in each case, and Adaway, Coleman, and Littleton were each ordered to pay 15s., including costs.

Time was allowed for payment in each case.

Source: Morning Post – Monday 30 August 1897 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

1890 The Fountain Tavern and the Gipsies

The Illustrated Police News Saturday, April 26, 1890

At The Croydon Petty Sessions, on Saturday, Mr. Peter Dale, landlord of the Fountain Tavern, Merton-lane, Mitcham, was summoned by the rural sanitary authorities for suffering a certain nuisance to exist by allowing gipsy caravans to be used for human habitation on his premises, the same not being supplied with water and drainage accommodation. The defendant denied the charge. Levi White, an inspector of nuisances said on the 16th inst. he discovered that one caravan out of two had gone, and that the land was occupied by a show. The showman and his wife were sleeping there. The defendant said the show alluded to was a portable theatre, and as far from doing any harm, he thought that when the very poor were enabled to see “Hamlet” played it did much to educate the children. The fact of the matter was that Mr. White did not like people to go to the theatre.

The Inspector : I should like to go myself. (Laughter.)

Eventually the case was adjourned.

Note that Merton Lane was renamed Western Road.

Woodlands Maternity Home

From the 1932 Medical Officer’s Report

The Woodlands Maternity Home, Devonshire Road, Collier’s Wood, was established by the Council in 1924.

During the year several improvements have taken place. A new Terrazzo floor has been put down in the labour ward, surgeons’ basins have been installed in the wards on the ground floor, and a new high pressure steriliser has been purchased. The interior of the Home has also been redecorated.

From the 1938 Medical Officer’s Report


The staff consists of a matron, two sisters, two staff nurses and three pupil midwives. All the staff are State registered nurses and, with the exception of the pupil midwives, hold the certificate of the Central Midwives’ Board. The Home is recognised as a Part II. training school for midwives.


The Home can accommodate 15 patients at a time, but bookings are limited to 26 patients per month.

Opened on 1st August 1924. Source: Mitcham Urban District Council minutes, 24th July, 1924, page 230, volume 10.

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.

Oscar Berridge Shelswell

Listed in the 1915 Kelly’s Directory as

Shelswell, Oscar Berridge M.R.C.S.Eng., L.R.C.P.Lond. surgeon & medical officer to the Holborn Union, Mitcham workshouse, Sibford, Lower Green west

which meant that he lived at Sibford, and was employed at the workhouse.

He was married in 1892.

From the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required) :
Banbury Guardian – Thursday 09 June 1892


The picturesque village of Stainton-in-Cleveland Yorkshire, was en fete on the 1st inst., the occasion being the marriage of Mr. Oscar Berridge Shelswell L.R.C.P. (Lond.), M.R.C.S. (England), of Mitcham, Surrey, to Miss Annie Elizabeth Lucy Wilkinson, second daughter of the Rev. T. H. Wilkinson, Vicar of the parish, and until recently Vicar of Ratley, Banbury. The ceremony was performed by the bride’s father, assisted by her brothers, the Rev H A Wilkinson, B.A., and the Rev. C. T. B. Wilkinson B.A.

The service was fully choral. The bride who was given away by her eldest brother, Mr. C. J. Wilkinson, M.R.C.S., of Bolton, was attired in a dress of rich ivory corded silk trimmed with lace and natural orange blossoms, coronet of the same, and long tulle veil secured by pearl pins. Her bouquet, the gift the bridegroom, was composed of white lilac and lilies of the valley.

She was attended by four bridesmaids Miss Agnes Wilkinson (sister of the bride), Miss Augusta Berridge (cousin of the bridegroom), Miss Emily Rayner, and Miss Mary Hobson, who wore costumes of maize crepon, with fichus of white chiffon, fancy Leg-horn hats trimmed with white chiffon and Marguerites. The bridegroom presented each with a dainty pearl and diamond spray brooch, and they carried bouquets of Marguerites and lillies of the valley.

Mr. Burton Luxmore, of London, acted as best man. The bride’s mother was attired in myrtle green silk trimmed with blue and silver brocade, handsome white China silk shawl, and lace bonnet to match.

The path by which the bridal procession returned to the vicarage was spanned by floral arches, and strewn with flowers by the school children, the return of the party being greeted with a feu de joie in the vicarage grounds.

Later in the afternoon the newly-wedded couple left en route for the Continent. The bride’s travelling dress was of fawn corduroy, trimmed with jewelled passementerie.

In the evening to celebrate the happy event, the school children, Sunday School teachers, and members of the Girl’s Friendly Society were entertained to tea in the vicarage garden, after which an adjournment was made to a field, kindly lent by Mr, John Jackson, where various sports and races were indulged in. Prizes were subsequently distributed by Mrs. Wilkinson, and the proceedings were brought to conclusion by dance in the village school-room. The wedding presents were numerous and valuable.

1928 Princess Mary At Mitcham

Western Daily Press – Thursday 08 November 1928

Scene Outside Hospital Gates.
The people of Mitcham received a visit from Royalty for the first time yesterday, when Princess Mary opened the Wilson Cottage Hospital, which has been erected on the edge of the common. Thousands of people, mostly women and children, thronged the common, which was decorated with flags and red bunting. About ten minutes after the Princess had entered the hospital two men made their way through the crowd to the gates. A commotion followed, and the men were eventually removed by the police, one of them having to be lifted bodily from the ground and carried.

1886 to 1893 Health Reports

From Croydon Rural Sanitary Authority minutes, read in Croydon Local Studies Centre.

Health reports by Edward Marshall:


Severe outbreak of measles & whooping cough 1884-85.

Complaints of injurious vapours & smells against Messrs Foster & Gregory, Chemical Works in Lonesome led to an inspection. He found no cause for complaint.

Death rate was 18.7 per 1000 and the birth rate was 38.9 per 1000.


Inspected piggeries at Single Gate, Pound Farm & issued orders to abate the nuisance.

Objected to a horse slaughterer & bone boiling business proposed for West Fields, Mitcham. This was also opposed by the Holborn Guardians who have just erected a large Workhouse within 300 yards of the site. It was approved by the Board of Magistrates


Epidemic of scarlet fever in Merton in 1887, possibly due to milk supplied by a certain dairy.

Complaint against a gut-cleaning operation in Pound Farm was dealt with.

Nightingale’s Cottages in Halfacre Row were condemned by a Magistrate’s order, after being reported as unfit for human habitation.

Scarlet fever outbreak in Field Gate affected sixty children.


Inspected a bakehouse that was too close to a stable & suggested alterations to prevent contamination, and these were carried out by the baker.

Some Cottages in Evan’s Cottages in West Field have been reported as unfit for human habitation.

“The Piggeries” in Prince of Wales Road, Mitcham were again the subject of complaint.


End of 1889 saw outbreak of Russian Influenza.


1891 started with one of the severest winters on record. Six children died from whooping cough.

Two blocks, Ebenezer-terrace & Concrete-cottages were reported insanitary & have been repaired.

March, 1893

Year started with another severe winter. Flu epidemic persisted & also bronchitis & pneumonia.

Mrs Rumble of Pincott Road, Merton was visited on 22/5/1892 and had small-pox. This & other cases were sent to the Isolation Hospital. The last case was 27th August. In all cases clothes & bedding were destroyed by fire.

The supply of water from the Lambeth company is now almost universal in the district, but there are still some outlying localities supplied from wells. The water from these wells is being tested.

Wilson Hospital Stories

Surrey Mirror – Friday 21 December 1934

An annexe to the Wilson Hospital, Mitcham, costing over £15,000, was opened on Saturday by Mrs. Wilson, wife of Mr. Isaac Henry Wilson, the donor. The hospital was originally opened in 1928 by the Princess Royal to accommodate 32 patients. The enlargement will be big enough to house 40 additional patients, together with the entire nursing staff, and will include out-patients’ departments, a new operating theatre. X-ray appliances, and wireless.

Daily Herald – Friday 17 November 1939

Domestic Maid required, experienced and with some knowledge cooking. Must strong and healthy Salary per annum and uniform.— Apply giving full particulars with name for reference Matron. Wilson Hospital. Mitcham,

Surrey Mirror – Friday 28 May 1937

The freedom of Mitcham was on Monday conferred on Mr. Isaac Henry Wilson, the donor of Wilson Hospital, the Garden Village Homes, and Cumberland Convalescent Home for Disabled People, costing together nearly £100,000.