Category Archives: Housing

Gunsite

An area of Mitcham Common that is south of the Mitcham Junction tramstop and railway station, east of the Carshalton Road, and is bounded on its eastern edge by the railway line between Mitcham Junction and Hackbridge stations, and on its southern edge by the scaffolding yards at the rear of the Corporation Cottages.

The area is called the Gunsite after its use during WW2 as an anti-aircraft installation, as shown on this 1955 OS map:

1955 OS map

This photo shows what remained of the site around 1961. The view is towards the west and the houses of Carshalton Road can be seen in the background.

c.1961 photo of the Gun site, where children often played. From Merton Memories, photo reference Mitcham_War_5-2

Photo taken around 1961 of the Gunsite. The houses in the background are on Carshalton Road. Clip from Merton Memories, photo reference Mitcham_War_5-1

The Gunsite was demolished in 1962/3.

Mitcham News & Mercury, 13th July 1962.

At last
—Gunsite
is to go

ONE of Mitcham’s biggest eye-sores, the Gun Site, Carshalton Road, Mitcham, is at last going to be cleared . . . at a cost of about £13,000.

Work on clearing the site is expected to start in about two months’ time.
The Ministry have approved a tender of £10,800 submitted to them from the Conservators and have further agreed to bear the cost of replacing trees on the site.

WELCOMED

A further cost of £2,000 fees will be included in the work.

This news is welcomed not only by Mitcham Common Conservators but by Mitcham Council and the public.

The Gun Site is one of the few remaining war relics in Mitcham and local people have been pressing for years to clear it.

The conservators hope to replace it with a grass landscape with trees.

Demolition of buildings on the Gunsite, around 1962/3. In the background can be seen a signal at Mitcham Junction Railway Station, and part of the Mitcham Golf Club building. Clip from Merton Memories, photo reference Mitcham_War_5-3

Currently, in 2020, the area shows no sign of its wartime use.

Information Board at the southern entrance to the Gunsite. Photo taken 22nd May 2020.

This board has no date and doesn’t mention the WW2 use of the area, however on the Conservator’s website, suggested walk no. 2, ‘Between The Tramstops’ (pdf) says:

… the area is known as the Gunsite because six anti-aircraft guns were stationed here during the second world war. The troop quarters were still present in the mid-1950s when they were used to house local people while new estates were being built in Mitcham.

The text on the info board:

Mitcham Common is a 180 site of Metropolitan Importance for nature conservation that is one of the most interesting and varied open spaces in south London. It supports a range of habitat types which include secondary woodland and scrub, ponds and other wetland features, together with large tracks of natural grassland and smaller parcels of the regionally important acid grassland and heathland habitats. Together these are home for a vast array of plants and animals many of which are locally rare. In order to maintain this biodiversity the Common requires active management which is undertaken by full-time staff assisted by local volunteers.

The Common is managed and regulated by the Mitcham Common Conservators who are a statutory corporation empowered under the Metropolitan Commons (Mitcham) Supplemental Act 1891.

For further information about the common or the conservatory contact :

The Wardens Office
Mill House Ecology Centre
Windmill Road
Mitcham
Surrey CR4 1HT
Tel: 020 8288 0453

Or visit: www.mitchamcommon.org

Mitcham Common is part of what is to become the Wandle Valley Country Park, and area of some 500 hectares of Metropolitan Open Space. the Park includes Beddington Park to the south, Beddington Farmlands landfill site and Thames Water Sewage Worksin the centre and the Common to the north. Work has already begun to develop the Park, ahead of the Beddington Farmlands site becoming available for open space in the future.

Note that the Metropolitan Commons (Mitcham) Supplemental Act 1891 is available to view on the Parliamentary Archives website.

News Items

Norwood News – Friday 06 January 1956

Gun-site families to change huts

The regrouping of families living at the gun site in Carshalton-road, near Mitcham Junction, will cost £1,000. The War Office, who want to clear up part of the site, have asked that the families should move into huts on the north side of the entrance road to the site. The condition of the huts the, people will move into is poor, say Mitcham Council. It is the conversion of the huts which will cost the money. Mitcham have agreed to the proposal on condition that the Ministry of Housing pay the cost of conversion.

Memories

Discussion on the Facebook Mitcham History Group led to these memories being recalled:

Carole said

… dad used to talk about the house opposite that had had its roof damaged and repaired so many times that they had V for victory in morse code in the tiles on the roof. Sadly, it was removed when re-roofed.

Eddie said

Happy memories as a kid playing there.

Isabella said

I was born on the gun site in 1947, lived there until 1954. I had a fantastic childhood growing up there.

Pat said

My brothers used to play there.

One night the whole of Pollards was out till 9pm looking for one of them ( he’d got carried away playing & forgot the time).

Another time my mum was cleaning under his bed & found a tin with hand grenades & bullets in it….she went with him to the police station and they had to have them blown up by the army. To say we’re lucky to be alive, is an understatement.

Terence said

I was born there in the old mess hut

Photos

Photo taken from a bench near the centre of the Gunsite area, looking west towards the Carshalton Road. Photo taken 18th May 2020.

One of the oak trees in the wooded area at the south eastern corner of the Gunsite. Photo taken 18th May 2020.


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

St. Georges Road

Road that runs south easterly from Cedars Avenue to Tamworth Park. Houses are numbered even from 2 to 68 on the south western side, and odd from 1 to 73 on its north eastern side. Even numbers have the postcode CR4 1EB and odd have CR4 1ED,

This OS map from 1953 also shows the Surrey County Council Pentlands Remand Home.

1953 OS map

According to Eric Montague on page 95 of his book
Mitcham Histories: 3 Pollards Hill, Commonside East and Lonesome, the houses, with their distinctive Courtrai du Nord interlocking tiles, were built by the Tamworth Park Construction Co., whose managing director, Joseph Owen, lived at the house called Pentlands at the eastern end of St Georges Road. Pentlands is shown in this map of 1910, and is named in earlier street directories. It was used by the Surrey County Council from 1937 to 1983 as a remand home, and, after it closed, the building was demolished, and houses were built on the site. Planning application MER175/84 was approved 19th April 1984 for the construction of 14 two storey, 3 bedroom houses with car parking.

1910 OS map

Occupants from Street Directories

Not mentioned in the 1891 directory, but is in the 1896.

1896 and 1898

St. Georges road, from Cedars avenue, Common side east

WEST SIDE

George Rupert UPTON (Northolme)
William WALFORD (St. George’s)

1904

St. Georges road, from Cedars avenue, Common side east

WEST SIDE

George Rupert UPTON (Northolme)
Thomas H. STOUT (Glenard)
James ANNAN (Pentlands)

1912

St. Georges road, from Cedars avenue, Common side east

WEST SIDE

George Rupert Thomas UPTON (Northolme)
James ANNAN (Pentlands)

This postcard of 1908 is addressed to a Miss Wheatley of Glenard, the second house from the Cedars Avenue end as shown on the 1910 OS map.

1908 postcard, from the Facebook Mitcham History group

World War 1 Connection

2nd Lieutenant Ralph Hamon Weeley UPTON

From the Mitcham and Tooting Mercury, 11th May, 1917, page 4:

MITCHAM OFFICER KILLED

Lieut. R. Upton

We regret to learn, just before going to press, that Lieut. R. Upton, younger son of Mr and Mrs Rupert Upton, of “Northolme,” has been killed in action in France. General sympathy will be expressed with Mr Upton, who is Inspector of the Mitcham Special Constabulary, and Mrs Upton in their great loss.

His name is on the west side of the Mitcham War Memorial as UPTON. R.H.W.


Earlist newspaper article found is from the Morning Post – Monday 7th January 1895:

UPTON. — On the 4th inst., at Northolme, Commonside, Mitcham, the wife of G.R.T. Upton, barrister-at-law, of a son.


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

The Links Estate

Housing built on a former golf course, and named after it, south of the river Graveney and north of the railway line the connects Tooting and Streatham stations. The area was in the urban district of Mitcham and, despite the SW17 postcodes, is part of the London Borough of Merton today.

The area was part of the Furzedown Estate, owned by Sir Charles Seely, whose name was given to one of the roads. The golf course had been rented by the Tooting Bec Golf Club, who declined Sir Seely’s offer to sell it to them. Source: Golf’s Missing Links.

1894 OS map

From the Birmingham Mail – Thursday 15 February 1906

WHERE CHARLES PEACE WAS A VISITOR.

Furzedown Park, one of the few remaining country estates within the county of London, has been sold by Sir Charles Seely to a gentleman who intends to cut it up for building purposes. It lies between Streatham and Tooting, and its mansion commands an extensive view of the Surrey hills. Among notable visitors to the mansion was Charles Peace, who went uninvited, and carried away many interesting souvenirs in the form of plate and other valuables. Instead of entering by the front door, Charlie climbed a tree, and took advantage of a branch that almost touched window. The tree is regarded as one of the curious things of the neighbourhood, for Charles Peace was great man —in his way.


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

1970 : Pollards Hill Estate rents for new 5-person houses too high

Rents of about £9 plus a week which will be charged on soon to be completed homes in the new Pollards Hill Housing Estate are being scoffed at by council tenants.

Tenants at present living in overcrowded conditions are being given the opportunity to move to future new homes on the 850-dwellings estate. However, the common reaction is ”These rates are too high by far – we can’t move unless they are brought down.”

The higher rents come in as a part of the rent structure for new tenancies – based on 210% of gross value on houses and 185% on flats – brought in by Merton Council.

Borough Housing Manager Mr A.A. Brown said 1,000 tenants had so far been invited to move into the new Pollards Hill Estate when their five and six person houses and flats become available.

Small response

“But the response of people interested in moving has been small,” he said.

Mr Brown was confident, however, that no flats or houses on the new development will be left empty when they were completed by the summer of 1971.

“I am sure they will be quickly occupied from the council waiting list.”

Among the existing tenants who have been given the opportunity of moving is 42 year old printer Mr John Uren.

Father of a teenage son and daughter, he would be entitled to move into a new 3-bedroom house from his four-guinea-a-week, two bedroom flat on the post-war estate at Pollards Hill.

“But I doubt I if I shall accept the offer – anyone who would pay £9 a week rent could just as well by their own new home,” Mr Uren said.

And Pollards Hill Estate tenants Association secretary Mr Dennis Small said these are not rents for ordinary council tenants at all – the council are only catering for people with big incomes. To pay the kind of rents the council asking for their new homes, a man would need to earn up to £40 a week.”

The new rents for a strongly opposed by the council’s labour minority. Said Councillor D.W. Chalkley, sole Labour representative on the housing committee: “With better handling of the housing account, these new tenancy rents could have been contained within the existing structure, which the Government would not have permitted to be raised.

“With such high rates, most people are quite naturally scared off.”

Merton’s letter inviting overcrowded tenants to move to Pollards Hill drew attention to the recently improved rent rebate scheme.

Prefer to pay

“But most tenants would prefer to pay their way rather than hope they will continue to qualify for rebates,” Councillor Chalkley commented.

“And, in any case, the present scheme where one council tenant subsidises another is wrong – it should be spread evenly amongst all ratepayers.”

Official opening of the first to five person houses at Pollards Hill will be carried out by Mitcham MP Mr Robert Carr, January 28.

Franklin Crescent

A crescent, that is nearly a square, road with an island centre, off the north side of Sherwood Park Road in the eastern part of Mitcham. Possibly built in the early 1930s. Houses are numbered odd, clockwise from 1 to 71, and even on the island in the centre, also clockwise from 2 to 28.

The Royal Mail postcode website says that there are two postcodes used in this road : odd numbered houses are CR4 1ND, while even numbered ones are CR4 1NH.

Photo of the front of no. 10 taken in 1983.

Photo of the rear of no. 10 taken in 1983. Vehicle access to the back was possible and this photo shows a garage on the left.

Photo of the back garden of no. 10 taken in 1983.


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

1962 Slum Clearance Scheme

from the Mitcham News & Mercury, 25th May, 1962, page 1:

Mitcham’s ambitious slum clearance scheme

ABOUT 140 HOMES TO GO

It may start next year, say council

Hundreds of Mitcham people are likely to have to leave their homes soon when Mitcham Council go ahead with a large scale slum clearance scheme.

About 140 dwellings, scattered in many parts of the town, are included in the scheme, which will possibly get under way early next year.

Split into five groups the dwellings included in the scheme are in Phipps Bridge Road, Blue House Cottages, Fountain Place, Prussia Place, Nursery Road, Gladstone Road, Sibthorp Road, Fountain Road and Western Road.

SOME HOMES ALREADY VACANT

Compulsory purchase of many of the properties is inevitable. Thousands of pounds will be involved in the acquisition.

Some of the dwellings, however, are at present vacant.

The Borough Engineer, Mr J.W. Turner, has advised the council’s housing committee to split the slum clearance scheme into two phases.

He thinks that the Gladstone Road, Sibthorp Road, Fountain Road and Western Road areas – forming part of an area which should, he feels, be considered with the council’s redevelopment of the Town Centre – should be deferred until further progress has been made on the the town centre proposals.

If the housing committee do leave these areas it would mean that only 54 dwellings would be immediately affected.

LOCAL INQUIRIES MAY BE HELD

It is not possible to say yet the date the scheme will start. Various legal channels have to be gone through and there is also a possibility that many local residents, affected by the scheme, will object to the Minister of Housing and Local Government. This may mean a series of local inquiries.

The sites in Fountain Place, Prussia Place and Nursery Road are the only ones included in the scheme which will be re-developed for residential use.

The other sites will be used for roads, redevelopment of the town centre and one for a school site.

Howard’s Brookfields Estate

Advertised in 1938:

Charming but inexpensive homes are to be found in Mitcham and none are more attractive than those on Howard’s Brookfields Estate which is situated on the London Road. Buses pass the end of the estate’s own concrete roads, linking Acton and Belmont.
Only three minutes away from the estate is Mitcham (Southern Railway) Station, with its frequent services to Tooting, Croydon, Wimbledon, and thence to all parts of London, and not more than ten minutes walk is Mitcham Junction Station from which leave many fast trains to the London Termini.

Despite such accessibility, however, the estate retains something of that quiet peace which more and more home-makers are seeking beyond the whirl of London.

It is with the benefit of such surroundings that the houses on this estate have been erected : their sound construction, labour-saving design and attractive appearance are in keeping. Leasehold (99 years), the prices range from £625 (total weekly outgoings approximately £1 5s. 2d. including repayment ground rents, rates and water) for centre houses, to £650 (£1 5s. 11d. weekly) for end houses, and £675 (£1 6s. 11d. weekly) for semi-detached houses. Freehold, the prices are £795 (£1 6s. 6d. weekly), £825 (£1 7s. 3d. weekly) and £850 (£1 8s. 5d. weekly). There are three types of houses, from which purchasers may choose.

Fundamentally, however, these houses are constructed to the one well-considered design. With a drawing room (12 ft. 9 ins. by 11 ft. ins.) and a dining room (12 ft. 11/2 ins. by 10 ft. 3 ins.) a pleasant hall and a kitchen (10 ft. by 6 ft. 9 ins.), upstairs three bedrooms, two large and one small with bathroom and separate w.c. supply the accommodation which the average family finds most convenient.

Here, in fact, are homes that are in no way pretentious – but are lastingly comfortable, and well equipped. There is the fitted kitchen for instance. With walls and floor partly tiled, with notably complete cupboard and larder fittings, folding table, sink cabinet with two teak drainers, and the all-important enamelled “Ideal” boiler and enamelled gas copper.

Then there are the attractive tiled fireplaces in the drawing and dining rooms and the sensible electric panel fires in two of the bedrooms. There is the heated linen cupboard, and tiled bathroom with enclosed panelled bath, fitted with mixer and hot shower. Numerous gas, electric and radio points assure the maximum of convenience throughout.

Nor has that thoughtful planning stopped short at the house itself; not only are there good paths already made, but at the back is a brick-built coal bunker. Space for a garage is included in the garden. What is more, these homes have the very great advantage of being guaranteed brick construction throughout. With no road charges, legal charges or other extras, this estate of 200 homes is meeting the requirements of a great number of careful purchasers.

The estate was built on the site of the Brookfields Nursery. An ad in the 1929 town guide has

Mitcham Lavender

J.N. CHESHIRE

Nurseryman and Florist

Brookfields Nursery
463 London Road

comprising 9 acres on the Banks of the River Wandle

Wreaths and Bouquets made to order
Telephone No. 2244 Mitcham

John Norkett CHESHIRE is listed as Market Gardener at the same address in the 1930 and 1938 commercial directories.

1932 OS map showing the Brookfield Nurseries

This 1938 map shows the estate taking shape:

1938 OS map


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