A convenience store at 98 Church Road, next to Fox’s Path, that was once a bottle and jug off licence, where customers could buy draught beer and take it away in a jug, as well as in bottles.
In the 1891 directory, the occupant was shown as George FOX, although he died in that year, according to Ancestry. In the directories from 1896 and 1898, Mrs Sarah Ann FOX is shown as a beer retailer, but the 1901 census shows Mrs Sarah Ann DREWETT. Did Sarah Ann Fox remarry?
In the 1911 census, with Sarah A DREWETT are boarders F.P. IDE, J.M. IDE, P.G.W. IDE, E.J. IDE, M.E. LUCAS, who were possibly staff?
Mrs Sarah Ann Drewett is listed as beer retailer in the 1913, 1915 and 1918 directories.
This photo from Merton Memories shows the shop sign S.A. DREWETT “Draught and bottled beers”.
In the 1925 street directory, the beer retailer is shown as Mrs Jessie Maria IDE. This Merton Memories photo has ‘J.M. IDE’ on its sign.
The off licence was tied to the Mann, Crossman and Paulin brewery, as can be seen in these photos. This brewery also supplied the Albion pub further up Church Road. The company’s brewery in Whitechapel was called the Albion Brewery, as seen in this 1852 painting:
This photo from Merton Memories is dated 4th September 1970 and no longer shows the licensee’s name. The brewery ‘Manns’ at this point was part of the Watney Mann group.
It was shown on this 1952 OS map as a Public House:
Mitcham News & Mercury, 28th September 1973
The Beer with No Pub
WHEN the guv’nor at The Wheatsheaf pulls a pint for his regulars . . . they have to go home to drink it.
Because although Mr Eric Ide’s friendly little local in Church-road, Mitcham, looks every inch a pub it’s just an off licence.
And drinking on the premises is against the law. The Wheatsheaf is the last of London’s old “Jug and bottle” off licences where customers can get draught wallop as well as wines and spirits.
Back in the early 1900‘s, when his parents ran it, Mr Ide’s narrow shop served Church-road, Mitcham’s matey answer to Coronation Street, as a general store.
Like thousands of others throughout Edwardian England it sold everything from bacon, bootlaces to barley sugar – and beer.
“When a housewife came in for her groceries she brought a jug along for the old man’s beer. But the licence laws were strict – under no circumstances could it be drunk on the premises and had to be taken away to a minimum of 100 yards.” he explained.
Times have changed, corner shops have been outdone by supermarkets and special offers, so he dropped the grocery side of the business when he took it over and carried on as an old fashioned off licence.
“I know everyone round here would have been very upset if I stopped serving draught beer.
“It’s more work for me I suppose to clean and maintain the pumps but I love hard work and I like pleasing my customers.” he said.
Wimbledon Boro’ News, 19th January, 1923
ACCIDENT IN HIGH STREET, MERTON. — Mrs. Eleanor Deane, aged 68, of 5, Cavendish-road, Collier’s Wood, was crossing High-street, Merton, On Tuesday afternoon. when she was knocked down by a bicycle ridden by Mr. Percy Ide, of the Wheatsheaf Ale House, Church-road, Mitcham. Mrs. Deane’s left ankle was slightly injured.