Category Archives: People

Joseph Owen

Born 1880, Sheffield, Yorkshire.

Married 1908 to Susannah Young in Colchester.

In the 1911 census, Joseph Owen, aged 31, lived at 11 The Crescent, Westmead Road, Sutton, Surrey, with his wife Susannah, 31, and their son Arnold, 1. His occupation was civil engineer and surveyor with the London County Council.

A public family tree on Ancestry.com says that he went to Canada between 1912 and 1915 and worked for the Canadian Pacific Railways.

On his return he lived in Ashbourne Road, and took part in starting the North Mitcham Improvement Association in 1919, as told in its history, written by A.H. Bailey:

Mr Joseph Owen, of 89 Ashbourne Road, came to Mitcham in the early days of the war, from Canada; he had, however, lived in the neighbourhood before going abroad. He was one of the parents of the Association. He added to his great abilities as a civil engineer remarkable enterprise and push. To him, more than anyone else, was due the acquisition of land and erection of Halls for the Association.

An Electoral committee was formed, Mr Owen was nominated, the ward was canvassed as it had never been before for a local election and Mr Owen was returned on a poll of 838 against 428 for the party ticket. His majority considerably exceeded the total votes cast for a victor the previous April.

Mr Owen’s municipal career was brilliant; he became Chairman of the Highways Committee and remained in that office during the years that Mitcham developed at its greatest rate. He pressed for public baths and, but for him, Mitcham would not have had the public library when it did. Mitcham has its quota of ratepayers only; but Mr Owen resolved the problem by giving the site and half the cost, he also presented Sherwood Park Recreation Ground to the Council and endowed a bed at the hospital.

Incidentally it may be mentioned that the Library was largely Mrs Owen’s design. Mr Owen reached the Chair of the District Council and was a County Councillor. Mr Owen, who in his private capacity, was responsible for the building development of what are now the Long Thornton and Pollards Hill Wards. The Majestic Cinema was erected largely by the efforts of the first N.M.I.A. Councillor.

Later he took up residence at Pentlands, St Georges Road, Mitcham.

In 1926 he started the Tamworth Park Construction Company.

He put up the cost of the Mitcham Library, as reported in the West Sussex Gazette – Thursday 03 July 1930:-

LIBRARY GIFT.

By the munificence of Councillor Joseph Owen the “village” is to have a public library. He has given a site for one in London-road, opposite the Holborn Schools, and is willing to pay the cost of the building, less only the amount expected to be obtained from Government grant. The sketch plans, drawn up by a local firm, provide for a figure extension when required, even, perhaps, to the addition of a museum. Mitcham is changing so amazingly rapidly that a place for storing tangible hits of its history—in picture, photo, wood, metal, stone — is due in the interests of future generations.

In the 1939 register he lived at 20 Beeches Walk, Carshalton.

He died in 1943, as reported in the West Sussex Gazette – Thursday 4th February 1943

Death has claimed Mr. Joseph Owen former Chairman of Mitcham U.D. Council. He gave the borough its public library site, and. provided about half the cost of the building. Sherwood Park Recreation Ground was another gift. With Mrs. Owen, he endowed a bed in the Wilson Hospital. For a time Mr. Owen was a representative of Mitcham on Surrey Comity Council. He developed housing in Mitcham and was chiefly responsible for the town getting an up-to-date cinema theatre.

20 Beeches-walk, Carshalton, Surrey, died 21 January 1943 at Kingslea Nursing Home, Mulgrave Road, Sutton, Surrey.

Probate Llandudno 12 July to Susannah Owen widow and Arnold Courtney Owen, chartered civil engineer. Effects £8,760 1s. 1d.

Source: Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995

Mitcham MPs

Members of Parliament for the constituency of Mitcham, between 1918, when it was created, and 1974, after which the town was included in the Mitcham & Morden constituency.

Name From To
Dr Thomas Worsfold December 14, 1918 February 13, 1923
Mr James Chuter Ede March 3, 1923 December 6, 1923
Sir Richard Meller December 6, 1923 June 24, 1940
Sir Malcolm Robertson August 19, 1940 July 5, 1945
Mr Thomas Braddock July 5, 1945 February 23, 1950
Mr Robert Carr February 23, 1950 February 28, 1974

Drina Strange

Drina Strange was the stage name of Alexandrina Marguerite Stringer.

Born in 1902 in Birmingham, she lived with her parents in 264 Links Road, and attended Links Secondary School for Girls. At 18 she was 6 foot 1 1/2 inches in height. She won a four year scholarship at the Trinity College of Music and she possessed a contralto voice of unusual range of power. On the 6th May 1922, at the end of the N.M.I.A. “Pageant and Revels of Merrie Mitcham, the All-Comrades suburb”, in front of a crowd of over a thousand, she sang Land of Hope and Glory, which she had not long before given at the Albert Hall.

(Source: Part 24 of the history of the North Mitcham Improvement Association (N.M.I.A.), and electoral registers).

Later that year a report said that was a new singer of unusual promise.

From the Middlesex County Times – Wednesday 22nd November 1922:

The contralto soloist, Miss Drina Strange, is a new singer of unusual promise. When her voice has reached maturity Miss Strange should make an enviable reputation. Her rendering of the solos in “A Tale of Old Japan” was a fine combination of thought and feeling. As an interpreter, with a keen sense of atmosphere, Miss Strange has remarkable gifts, and her talent in thin direction was revealed even more clearly in Elgar’s beautiful song, “Like to a Damask Rose,” for which she was encored. Her phrasing enunciation, tone-colour, and absorption in the spirit of her songs were some of the best features of an eventful evening.

She took her own life, aged 22, in 1924.

From the Daily Herald – Thursday 19th June 1924

TENSE SCENE AT AN INQUEST

DRAMATIC DEMAND BY A MOTHER

A SINGER’S END

“Can he go into the mortuary and see my daughter and see the ruin he has done?”

This dramatic question was put by a distracted mother at an inquest held at yesterday on a young singer who poisoned herself because her lover had proved “a fraud,” to quote the words of her father. It was to this person that the mother alluded.

The dead girl was Alexandrina Marguerite Stringer (22), known on the concert stage as Drina Strange. Her father, who was much distressed, stated that months ago his daughter introduced a young man to him.

“I saw he was a fraud at the first sight,” he went on, “and I warned her against him.” Later he heard from his daughter that he was married, and sent for and spoke to him. His daughter was much upset — it drove her mad.

The coroner here read letter from Miss Stringer — ‘Moga’ is the nickname of a friend :

“Moga knows all and still loves. I am ashamed and unhappy. Do not blame my lover for this, for I was unhappy before he crossed my path. He was my only star and light. Will my dear mother ever forgive me? I am unworthy to be beneath your honest roof. So here I die to win success in death. God forgive me. I am a vile creature. I die with love for my parents, and gratitude for their forgiveness, and, above all, please let my lover alone.— Good-bye; Dina.”

LETTER TO MAN’S WIFE

Sidney Kibby, Western-road, Southall, a clerk employed by the Maypole Dairy Co., replying to the coroner, said he knew he ought to have told Miss Stringer earlier that he was married. He had done wrong.

Why did you leave it until this girl’s 21st birthday? — I thought it the best thing to do then.
Having told her the facts you still continued take her out? — Yes.

Kibby produced a letter written by Miss Stringer to his wife, in which she said:-

“I feel I must apologise …. I realise I have done a wicked wrong, and how you have forgiven I cannot tell I hope you will restore the former love of your husband …. I swear I shall never see him again if only you will continue to give me your forgiveness. Dina Strange.

P.S. — If you care to be a friend of my mother’s she will always welcome you. She is one of the sweetest beings living. I hate myself bringing so much misery to her. Heartbroken. — D.S.”

The medical evidence was that Miss Stringer had taken salts of lemon. The doctor added that he found no trace that she had been interfered with.

In returning verdict of “Suicide during temporary insanity,” the coroner observed that the conduct of Kibby led to this poor girl taking her life, and he was responsible, if not legally, at any rate morally.

Miss Stringer’s father was escorted from the court by police officers and his son, and a police-sergeant escorted Kibby, who made a hurried exit.

Edenvale Road

Road that runs northward from Gorringe Park Avenue, crossing St Barnabas Road to Ashbourne Road. Its shape seems to follow the path that separated Gorringe Park House from the farm on its east side, as shown on this OS map of 1911.

1911 OS map

The 1925 street directory names the road as Eden Vale and lists the properties from number 79 Ashbourne Road:

East side.

North Mitcham Improvement Association Sports Ground
William TYRELL, poultry farm

West side.

1 through 17

… here is Milton rd

19 through 33

This directory only lists odd-numbered houses on the west side of the road. The electoral register for Autumn 1925 also lists only the odd numbers, and the occupants were:

1, Frederick Walter and Ethel CATTERMOLE
3, David MUSTARD; Thomas TAYLOR
5, Joseph William GOBBY; Kezia Maude ADAMS
7, Marguerite BROWITT
9, Harold and Mary Elizabeth ODAM; Mary Elizabeth WOOD
11, David and Annie McGREGOR
13, John Joseph HANDCOCK; William John BATTLE
15, Frederick LIFE; Charles BECKETT
17, George Frederick GOODBODY; Ernest WALLER
19, Thomas Robert and Ethel Elizabeth BLACKMORE; Francis LAMBLE
21, Frederick William HALLET; Bertram Charles AGATE
23, Cecil Armfield WAKELING
25, Elizabeth WISEMAN; Sydney William EADE
27, Walter William and Emily STALLWOOD
29, James Thomas and Hilda JACKSON
31, Minnie TURNER

North Surrey Poultry Farm, Albert and Louise TYRELL

The Autumn 1926 electoral adds some even-numbered houses:

2, Alonzo James & Margaret Mary SHARP
4, William and Jemima and Harold Percy BULL
6, Nellie Hannah GREENSTREET
8, Arthur and Gertrude HULKS
10, Albert George and Lucy Matilda CONSTABLE

North Surrey Poultry Farm, Albert and Louise TYRELL

In the 1929 electoral register appears more even-numbered houses, from 12 to 28:

2, Victor and Florence ANGLE
12, Bernard Eden and Dorothy Charlotte CANDY
14, Frank and Mabel Winifred CHEESMAN
16, George Boswell and Getrude Maud CHAMPNISS; John William McFarlane and Margaret Josephine KIDD
18, Ernest Leslie and Emily Beatrice ANSTY Joseph John and Elsie Mabel IVE
20, Hedley Frank and Margaret Gertrude JACKSON
22, Thomas Joseph and Annie Esther SAGE
24, Frederick William and Rebecca Esther EAGLESTONE
26, Benjamin Frederick James and Norah Winifred BALDWIN; Percy Edward and Kathleen DODSWELL
28, Ivan Albert and May and Ellen WEALE

North Surrey Poultry Farm, Albert and Louise TYRELL

1932 is the last year that the poultry farm is listed in the electoral registers. In 1934 there are more even-numbered houses from 30 to 36.

This 1950 OS map shows ‘Tennis Courts’ on the east side of Edenvale Road. These were on the North Mitcham Improvement Association sports ground referred to in the 1925 street directory.

1950 OS map


Embed from Getty Images

High jump athlete Dorothy Tyler-Odam MBE moved to Edenvale Road as a young girl with her parents. From the 1925 electoral register, she lived at number 9. She died in 2014, aged 94.


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

George Bennett, postman

Cartoon by Collingsby of George Bennett exhibited in 1879

George Bennett, a postman, born o 18th November 1851. Besides being a postman George kept the Little Wonder stationery, tobacco and confectionery shop at Fair Green. He also caned chairs, did a bit of photography, and repaired bicycles. In his leisure time George ‘did a bit of running in local sports’, and was a sergeant in the Volunteers. On his retirement from the postal service, which he had joined ‘at 5.30 a.m. November 18th 1869 and left after 48 years service ‘at 7.30 p.m. November 17th 1917′.

George Bennett became a beekeeper, partly because he had been informed that bee stings were a cure for rheumatism. According to George, the cure worked. At 95 years of age he was still active, exhibiting honey, wax and bee material at local shows. Tom Francis observed that it either said much for the cartoonist’s ability that people who knew George Bennett in the 1940s could still recognise him in a drawing made some sixty years before, or else ‘said more’ for the virility and vigour of the veteran himself.

From Tom Francis’s notes on slide 61.

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.

1976 : Mr Sparrowhawk out-drinks horse in Bucks Head

From the Sunday People, 31st October, 1976, via the British Newspaper Archive.

Mr Sparrowhawk out-drinks Boozy Toby

It looked like a cert for Toby the pony when he met Ron Sparrowhawk in a challenge beer drinking contest.

Observers of form in the public bar at the Bucks Head, Mitcham, Surrey, pointed to the size of his mouth, the length of his his tongue and his great capacity for liquid.

Challenger Ron Sparrowhawk, they argued, though known to be a fast man with a pint, was taking on more than his weight. The smart money was going on Toby, a proven sprinter over anything from one to six pints.

The public bar was tense when timekeeper Mike Green, landlord at the Bucks Head, put up Toby’s pint.

It was a smooth three-lap performance – three laps of that long tongue and the pint was gone in a snappy six seconds.

Then it was the turn of Ron Sparrowhawk.

He looked confident as he took his stance opposite his pint, nicely placed at the edge of the bar.

He raised the glass with a nice easy action, placed it to his lips.

Then, as the crowd fell silent, Ron downed the pint in an amazing three seconds.

Over

The contest was over. The dark horse had won.

What the punters didn’t know is that Ron Sparrowhawk, of Bond Road, Mitcham, is an expert on the drinking capacity of animals.

“I’ve always been a drinking man,” he said later, “so naturally I’ve been curious about what other animals can sink.

“I wanted to put my theories to the test with Toby, hence the challenge.

“I just open my mouth and pour. It’s like tipping it down a drain.

“Toby has a long tongue, I grant you. But I’ve got the technique. And a long longue is no match for technique.

“Watch the drinkers in any local. How many long tongues do you see?

“Mind you, that Toby can hold more than I can. But he hasn’t got the speed.”

Ron, who owns a shellfish stall, was full of praise for his beaten rival.

“He’s a plucky contestant that Toby and I’m planning a rematch.”

Landlord Mike Green said that Toby started drinking beer six months ago.

“He has three pints in the morning and three at night.”