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.