Category Archives: Services

Mitcham Post Offices

Eric Montague said in his book Mitcham Histories : 12 Church Street and Whitford Lane, page 107, that Mitcham’s post office had occupied 5 locations, as listed below:

1st : at Westhall’s grocery shop in the Broadway

The 1855 directory shows the postal services available:

It lists Joseph WESTALL as grocer and cheesemonger as well as the post office receiving house in Lower Mitcham.

2nd : in a small shop near Mitcham Station

This photo from 1895 shows part of the words ‘Post Office’ above the shop.

clip from Merton Memories, photo reference Mit_Public_Services_18-2, copyright London Borough of Merton

3rd : a purpose built building in the Broadway

The words ‘Post Office’ can be seen etched in the windows on the building on the right in this photo of around 1910:

clip from Meton Memories, photo reference Mit_streets_Lon_38-25, copyright London Borough of Merton

According to Eric Montague in his book Mitcham Histories : 4 Lower Mitcham, pages 127-8, this post office was

erected in about 1900 … a three-storeyed building … its rather fussy facade including false timber framing to simulate an Elizabethan structure.”

4th : Post Office and Telephone Exchange building on the corner of London Road and Elmwood Road

Built around 1920, shown here in this 1953 photo:

clip from Merton Memories photo, reference Mit_Streets_Lon_38-46, copyright London Borough of Merton

5th : Langdale Parade

In 1961 the post office moved to Langdale Parade in the Fair Green. The telephone exchange building remains.

Currently, in 2019, the Langdale Parade post office has moved to a smaller shop nearby at number 5:

Post Office at no. 5 Langdale Parade. Photo taken 23rd April 2019

1877 : West Kent Drainage scheme


The members of the West Kent Main Sewerage Board on Thursday invited the parochial authorities of Bromley, Beckenham, Bexley, Crayford, Chislehurst, Dartford, and the parishes in the valley of the Cray to an official inspection of the works now in progress at Halfway-street, Eltham. The parishes named have long suffered from want of effective drainage and the means of disposing of their sewerage.

The West Kent Main Drainage Scheme was designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, and consists of a sewer 9 miles in length from Beckenham to an outfall in Dartford Marshes, Long Reach, 7 miles below the northern and southern outfalls. It is proposed by Sir J. Bazalgette that the main sewer should be continued from Beckenham westward by Croydon, Mitcham, Merton and Kingston and it will form the out fall for all the towns in the Thames valley. The contract drawings were prepared by Mr Alfred Williams and entreated to Messes John Neave and Son, the contractors. The cost is estimated at £150,000, the time allowed for the completion of the work being two years and a half.

There were on Thursday 8 shafts at work, 4 others being in the course of sinking to the level of the sewer, which is from 40 to 50 feet deep. An important feature of the work is that the sewer is constructed in Portland cement concrete, consisting of ballast 5 parts, sand 1 part, and Portland cement 1, which is one third less cost than brickwork. Nine hundred feet of tunnelling is completed out of 28,100 feet. The length of the Cray Valley Branch Sewer is 34,736 and the total length of the Main Sewer is 58,528 feet. The sewer is egg-shaped, 6 feet by 4, and in one portion is a circular 6ft. sewer, and towards the outfall 5 feet 6. At the outfall the sewage can be discharged at all times. Five hundred men are employed on the work, which is progressing at the rate of 350 feet a week, the actual length under operation by the 12 shafts being 6500 feet.

The Board and visitors had a cold collation at the Black Horse, Sidcup, the gentlemen present being Col. Lennard, J.P., in the chair, R. B. Berens. Esq., J.P., Messrs Beggs, Couchman, and Janson, members of the West Kent Main Sewerage Board. The officers present were Sir Joseph Bazalgette, consulting engineer; Mr May, solicitor; Mr Mullen, clerk of the Board; and Mr Williams, C.E., resident engineer. The visitors present from Croydon Local Board of Health were Messrs Saunders, Coldwell, and Peerless; from Bromley Local Board, Dr Ilott; and the Beckenham Committee, Messrs Cobben, Carpmael, HolifieId, Lovelock and Molyor. Messrs Neave & Son and Mr Fry were also present.

Colonel Lennard said the scheme originated with the Public Health Act, which threw the work on the Bromley Board of Guardians. The Education Act had also been thrown on Boards of Guardians. The willing horse had too much thrown upon it, and sooner or later it would break down. The Bromley Board of Guardians did not wish to be accused of incapacity or idleness, and accepted the drainage work cheerfully. The Guardians had no means to recoup themselves unless the Bill became law, and a number of gentlemen agreed to a guarantee fund, to defray the costs in the event of the Bill not passing. These gentlemen commenced the work with a rope hanging about their necks, and trusted to those employed on the Bill to make their charges small in the event of non-success. They met with opposition at Bromley and Dartford; but it was withdrawn when it became evident that their interests were identical. They were willing that the Dartford, Bromley, and Croydon parishes should join in the scheme upon the same terms as themselves, the Board not wishing to make a profit out of them. Caution and care were necessary in the formation of the scheme, it being essential to avoid pettifogging on the one hand, and of frightening the ratepayers by going on too large a scale on the other hand. He believed the works were being carried on with the goodwill of all parties.

The works had begun at the outfall; but the roads being impassable, the Board proposed shortly to visit it by water, embarking at Erith.

Sir Jos. Bazalgette recommended parishes to combine for drainage purposes instead of going to work single-handed. They had a successful example that day of the result of combination.

The Metropolitan Main Sewage cost 4 millions, and was incapable of performing more work. It therefore became necessary to have a supplemental system. The West Kent scheme presented several novelties, such as aqueducts and a syphon. At the reservoir at Long Reach, the sewage would be filtered.

The health of Colonel Lennard was then proposed, after which the visitors proceeded to inspect the works. Amongst the geological curiosities there had been found 17 ft. strata of decomposed sea shells. and several members of the Board carried away some perfect specimens of oyster and other shells. The boring showed the strata to be what is known as the Woolwich and Reading beds. In one portion of the work, several of the visitors donned some rough clothing, and descended in a truck down a cutting 38 feet deep, where they walked along the sewer right and left. At the open cuttings they descended by a ladder, and walked about half a mile through the sewer, which was lighted up with candles. The visitors also inspected the manufacture of the concrete blocks, the washing of the ballast in the river Bourne, and other interesting points in connection with the works. In the evening some 50 or 60 of the workmen were regaled with a substantial supper.

Source: Bexley Heath and Bexley Observer – Saturday 23 June 1877 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

Street Lighting – From Gas to Electric

NB: These notes will be added to when more are found in the council minutes.

From the minutes of the
Highways and Lighting Committee
8th May 1959
page 937

Street Lighting Improvement Scheme, Stage XIVc

the following tenders have been received for Stage XIVc of the Street Lighting Improvement Scheme (Class B Lighting):-

Company £ s. d.
Concrete Utilities Ltd. 2920 10 0
O. C. Summers Ltd. 7054 8 0
Erecon Ltd. 7091 0 0
Machinery Installations Ltd. 7192 0 0
Revo Electric Co. Ltd. 7391 5 0
Pengam Engineering Ltd. 7416 10 0
Bagshaws Contractors Ltd. 7445 10 0
Harland and Wolff Ltd. 7472 4 0
Cohen Bros. (Electrical) Ltd. 7506 15 0
Abacus Engineering ltd. 7562 15 0
Robert Mullen Ltd. 7723 0 0
S. A. Inston and Co. 7723 19 8
C. Maurice Contractors Ltd. 7911 19 2

Concrete Utilities Ltd. have withdrawn their tender

It is recommended that the tender of O. C. Summers, Ltd., in the sum of £7,054 8s., be accepted.

From the minutes of the
Highways and Lighting Committee
11th December 1958
pages 512 to 514

4. Borough Engineer’s Report. = The Borough Engineer submitted the following report:-

9th December, 1958
To the Chairman and Members of the Highways and Lighting Committee

Mr. Chairman and Members,

Street Lighting Improvement Scheme, Stage XIVB

(a) London Electricity Board. – I have been informed by the London Electricity Board that the cost of affording supply and contribution towards the provision of service lines in connection with the eighty lamps comprising Stage XIVB of the Street Lighting Improvement Scheme will be £1,773 10s. The increase in the annual charge for maintenance will be £75 1s. per annum.

(b) South Eastern Gas Board. – I have been informed by the South Eastern Gas Board that the cost of cutting off and plugging at the main the services to the gas street lamps in the roads to be provided with electric lighting in Stage XIVB of the Street Lighting Improvement Scheme will be £4 7s. 10d. each in respect of the thirty-eight lamps concerned.

I shall be glad of the authority of the Committee to place orders with the London Electricity Board and South Eastern Gas Board.

(a) Street Lighting Improvement Scheme, Stage XIVB – The authority be given for the placing of orders with the London Electricity Board and the South Eastern Gas Board for the carrying out of the works set out in the report at the cost indicated.

From the minutes of the
Highways and Lighting Committee
13th November 1958

Street Lighting Improvement Scheme, Stage XIVb.
The following tenders have been received for the erection of eleven 140 watt. sodium discharge lamps and sixty-eight 100 watt. tungsten filament lamps comprising Stage XIVb of the Street Lighting Improvement Scheme:

Company £ s. d.
Revo Electric Co. Ltd. 1767 19 0
O. C. Summers Ltd. 1887 4 4
Machinery Installations Ltd. 1929 14 10
S. A. Inston and Co. 1937 11 0
The General Electric Co. Ltd. 1946 8 0
Erecon Ltd. 1949 4 0
Harland and Wolff Ltd. 2015 6 6
Abacus Engineering ltd. 2015 13 0
Bagshaws Contractors Ltd. 2025 19 0
Robert Mullen Ltd. 2031 0 0
C. Maurice Contractors Ltd. 2100 9 11

Revo Electric Co., Ltd. have withdrawn their tender.
It is recommended that the tender of O. C. Summers, Ltd., in the sum of £1,887 4s. 4d., be accepted.

From the minutes of the
Highways Committee
11th March 1954

Street Lighting Improvements stage III: Completion of London Road (A217) and Upper Green East (A236).

The following tenders have been received for the provision of 140-watt sodium discharge lamps in London Road from the Cricket Green to Tooting Junction and Upper Green East: –

Company £ s. d.
Revo Electric Co., Ltd. 3,557 5 4
General Electric Co., Ltd. 3,557 5 4
North Midland Engineering Co., Ltd. 3,557 5 4
Treforest Electrical Services, Ltd. 3,634 12 0
Harland and Wolffe, Ltd. 3,693 10 0
Erecon, Ltd. 3,846 15 4
Clough Smith and Co., Ltd. 3,847 5 4
Cohen Brothers (Electrical), Ltd. 4,034 3 1

It is recommended that the lowest tender, that of Revo Electric Co., Ltd., in the sum of £3,557 5s. 4d., be accepted.

Street Lighting Improvements stage III: London Electricity Board

I have been informed that the contribution in respect of 73 services required for Stage III of the street lighting improvement program is £1279, based on the costs and wages and materials as at 8th March and subject to variation in the event of difference in either prior to the completion of the services.

In addition, the estimated cost of connection is £39; the actual cost being charged on a time and material basis.

Authority is required for placing an order with the London Electricity Board on these terms.

Lamp Columns

In connection with the street lighting improvements, I shall be glad of the authority of the committee to invite tenders for the removal and disposal of the steel and cast-iron columns at present used for gas lighting.

Yours obediently,
Riley Schofield,
Borough Engineer and Surveyor.

Source: Proceedings of the Council and committees, Mitcham Borough Council, Volume 20 1953-54, pages 711-2

Total estimated cost of replacing 73 gas street lamps, with electric was £4,875 5s. 4d., equivalent of £121,600 in 2016 values.

Minutes of meetings held by the Mitcham Borough Council are available on request from the Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.

Firemen killed in 1941 at Surrey Theatre Blackfriars Road

A plaque near Blackfriars Bridge reads

In memory of 11 London Auxiliary Firemen, a Sub officer of the London Fire Brigade and five Mitcham Auxiliary Firemen, killed by enemy action while relaying water from the basement of the demolished Surrey Theatre, which stood on this site and was then used as an emergency water supply, to fires at the Elephant and Castle on the night of 10th/11th of May 1941

The five firemen from Mitcham are listed below. The links are to Commonwealth War Grave Commission web page entries.


Name Rank Age Address
Cecil Arthur ELLIMAN Fireman 32 75 Longthornton Road, Mitcham
Harold Charles PARKES Fireman 40 15 Homefield Gardens, Mitcham
Edward George PEPPER Fireman 32 1 Aberdeen Terrace, Merton
Ernest Francis ROBINSON Fireman 35 49 Courtney Road, Collier’s Wood
Albert Henry SPILLER Leading Fireman 34 24 Heyford Road, Mitcham

Source of age and address is the Commonwealth War Grave Commission website.

Probate for Edward George Pepper

PEPPER Edward George of 1 Aberdeen-terrace Merton London SW19 who is believed to have been killed through war operations on 12 May 1941 and whose dead body was found on 12 May 1941 at Surrey Theatre Blackfriars-road Surrey

Adminis-tration Llandudno 4 July to Kathleen Isabel Pepper widow. Effects £329 14s. 10d.

Street Lighting – Gas

Merton Memories photos

Next to milestone, without glass
1950 opposite Kings Head
Three gas lamps along Causeway in 1909
Outside Vestry Hall in 1902
1870 from Causeway towards White House


Saturday 7th September 1889


The Lighting Question.

— A public meeting the ratepayers the parish was held the Vestry Hall on Thursday evening for the purpose of considering the expediency of rescinding the following resolution, passed at meeting of the ratepayers of the parish the 29th day of October, 1853 ; “Resolved unanimously that the number inspectors carry into execution the provisions of the Act, third and fourth William IV., cap. 90, in this parish (so far as relates to lighting) be seven,” and of passing resolution enabling the Vestry elect such inspectors with those already in office will make a total number of twelve inspectors of lighting for the parish.

— Dr. J. Ferrier Clarke, Vicars warden, having been voted to the chair, he informed the meeting that solicitors’ and counsel’s opinion had been asked upon the question, and a telegram had just been received to the effect that it was impossible, in consequence of being vacation the Courts, get counsel’s decision until Monday, when the matter could be considered at the adjourned Vestry meeting to be held on that day.

— Mr. Dungate, of the Singlegate Ratepayers’ Association, moved that the business on, and his motion was seconded by Mr. Wortley and carried.

— Messrs. Nobes, John Nicholls, and Dr. Love having spoken against, and Dr. Kemshead, the Rev. Mr. Richman, and others, in favour, it was put to the meeting with the following result: For 31, against 28.

— As the beaten party challenged the figures, it was decided that all ratepayers present should have their names taken down by the chairman, which resulted in the figures being altered to : For 34, against 23.

— It was then proposed by Mr. Wortley and seconded by Mr. Newman that the number increased to 12, and as only six voted against it was carried.

— Mr. Phil. Sampson, senr., as usual, interrupted every speaker who did not agree with him, and the Gas Company whipped up all their officials to oppose the rescinding of the resolution vote thanks to the chairman closed the meeting, which was of a rather lively character.

Source: Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 07 September 1889 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

Saturday 10th August 1889



An Adjourned meeting of the Mitcham Ratepayers’ Association was held in the Boys’ School, Lower Mitcham, on Wednesday evening, to again discuss the question of the lighting of the district. Mr. Sandall was voted to the chair, and amongst those present were Messrs. W. Jenner, J. Brown, Wright, G. Bullock, W. Thomas, Dungate, Gardner, Muad, W. Tilley, A. R. Harwood, Wortley, Hill, Langridge, Blackstone, Tomlin, Jordan, W. Barter, and Dr. Kemshead.

The Chairman, in opening the proceedings, explained the objects of the association to those who were not yet members of it, assuring them that by attending Vestry meetings and keeping a watchful eye on those officers who were paid by the ratepayers, their interests were safeguarded and abuses rendered next to impossible. Public officers were likely to become lax in the performance of their duties if such a body as the Ratepayers’ Association were not in existence to watch their movements. Coming to the subject to consider which that meeting was held, he unfolded the plan the sub-committee, previously appointed, had resolved to recommend. At present the parish was lighted by the Gas Company for nine months out of the twelve from sunset to half-past one o’clock in the morning at a charge of £3 per lamp per annum. What the committee suggested was that oil should be adopted instead, when the lamps could be lighted every night all the year round at a charge that would not exceed £2 9s. 6d. per lamp per annum. He pointed out that this estimate was a literal one, and would allow them a fair margin to work upon, as Wimbledon, which had adopted oil lighting, was able to carry it out satisfactorily at an annual cost of £2 6s. 8d. per lamp. The present system of lighting by gas, he said, was a most unsatisfactory one. Reckoning each lamp to burn five cubic feet of gas per hour, and the cost 3s. 10d. per 1,000 feet, he was certain that they were paying the Gas Company more than they ought to. They were therefore justified in the course they proposed to take, and if they were well supported it would probably have the effect of bringing the Gas Company round, and making an offer to light the lamps every night all year round, at £3 per lamp, the old terms. If the ratepayers resolved to adopt oil lighting, it would mean saving to them every year over the price of gas of 10s. 6d. per lamp, and that surely was something worth striving after. (Applause.)

Dr. Kemshead then presented a report on the subject he had been instructed to prepare. He said as at present arranged, with no lamps from May to August, they might take it that if the lamps were lighted for the period ending in May from 8.30 p.m. to 1.30 a.m., and for the period ending December from 3.30 p.m. to 1.30 a.m., the average would be 7 1/2 hours per night ; whilst if they were kept alight every night in the year the average would be nine hours per night. Now, what was the consumption gas? Each lamp consumed five cubic feet of gas per hour, which, calculated at nine hours per night all the year round, would give a consumption of 3,304 cubic feet per lamp per year, which, again, at 3s. 10d. per 1,000 cubic feet, would amount in the year to £824 18s. 8d. or for nine months to £6lB 14s. At 7 1/2 hours per night all the year round the cost would be £687 8s. 7d., and for nine months £464 0s. 6d. Thus while the Gas Company at present lighted the lamps for an average of 7 1/2 hours per night for nine months and charged £804 12s., while gas consumed at their own price cost £6l8 14s., they evidently charged a good deal more than they had a right to. The cost of oil-lighting he estimated as follows:- Oil, per year, £351; labour of five men in the lighting, extinguishing, and cleaning of the lamps 30s. per week each, wicks, breakages, and sundries, £34; total, £645. This gave cost of £2 9s. 5d. per lamp per year, and this showed annual saving, compared with gas, of £167 14s. Along with this saving there would light all the year round from sunset to sunrise. Dr Kemshead suggested that the Gas Company should again be communicated with, and another meeting of the ratepayers held before the August Vestry meeting, to decide upon their final course of action. He believed if the company were properly approached they would not object to a compromise.

Mr. Wortley next addressed the meeting. He contended that the oil lamps the association had on view gave a much better light than gas, and could see no feasible reason why oil should not be adopted for future lighting purposes.

Mr. Dungate pointed out that better gas was made in the Workhouse at 1s. 6d. per 1,000, and 3s. 10d. per 1,000 charged by the Gas Company was exorbitant. He believed that the Lighting Inspectors would not move without pressure from the ratepayers through the Ratepayers’ Association, many of the ratepayers being afraid of them. He held that if once they resolved to have oil they would never again resort to gas, but before they did anything he was of the opinion that it would be wise to again approach the Gas Company. (Hear, hear.)

Mr. Tomlin then moved the following resolution:- “That the secretaries of the two Ratepayers’ Associations be instructed to write to the directors of the Gas Company asking if the company is prepared light all the street lamps from sunset to sunrise all the year round for per lamp per annum.’’ Mr. Tomlin remarked that they did not wish to do the company any harm, but they were determined to have value for their money. (Applause.)

Mr. Thomas seconded the resolution, which was then adopted unanimously. The following resolution was also unanimously adopted on the proposition of Mr. Dungate, seconded by Mr. Wortley:- “That no person be voted for at the coming election of inspectors unless such person pledges himself to obtain considerable reduction in the price of gas, or failing that to consent to light the parish with oil.””

Tbe Chairman urged upon those present not to forget to attend the next Vestry meeting, and to do their best place the question of oil-lighting before tbeir fellow-ratepayers. After some further discussion, a vote of thanks was accorded to the chairman, and the proceedings concluded.

Source: from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

Two advertisements requesting tenders for 50 iron lamp posts and a supply of gas. From the South Eastern Gazette 8th November 1853

CONTRACT for the SUPPLY of FIFTY IRON LAMP POSTS, with lamps and fittings complete for lighting the same with Gas, for the parish of Mitcham, at per post, etc., including the fixing in such parts of the parish as may be determined by the inspectors.
Persons desirous of contracting for the above are requested to send in their tenders to the Buck’s Head Inn, Mitcham, on or before the 22nd November instant, directed to the Secretary to the Inspectors. The Board will not pledge themselves to accept the lowest or any tender.
By order of the Board,
Nov, 4th, 1853.

CONTRACT for the SUPPLY of GAS in the Public Lamps of the parish of Mitcham, at per 1000 feet. Persons willing to undertake the above contract, during the winter months, are requested to send in their tenders to the Buck’s Head Inn, Mitcham, on or before the 22nd November instant, directed to the Secretary to the Inspectors. The Board will not pledge themselves to accept the lowest or any tender.
By order of the Board,
Nov. 4th, 1853.