Tag Archives: 1898

1898 : Making oil cloth in Mitcham

From Pearsons Weekly (P.W.):-

A VERY SECRET TRADE.

P.W. IS SPECIALLY FAVOURED, AND SEES THE WHOLE PROCESS OF OILCLOTH MAKING.

Thanks to the courtesy of Messrs. Hampton, P.W. has been through a large factory in Mitcham and seen the whole process of oil-cloth making from beginning to end, from the plain canvas stretched on huge vertical frames sixty-one feet high to the rolling up, ready, one might say, for putting down on your floors.

To start with, the canvas is made in Scotland, and is delivered in whole lengths measuring as much as 145 yards long and six or eight yards wide. It is especially strong stuff woven of yarns made of hemp and flax combined, or jute, or other strong raw material. These fields of canvas are out into lengths to suit the frames, measuring sixty-one feet by twenty-four.

Like stage cloths, they are nailed by the upper edge to battens that run across at the top, being also secured tightly to side frames in order to stretch them.

Now, to render oil-cloth stout, solid, and durable the canvas in the rough_or first state has many coats of paint applied to it, the first coat being quite a pigment in substance, so thick, indeed, that it is actually laid on with a trowel. That is the first process, if we except the sizing. This pigment, or paint, is put on in four sections by “trowellers” who are stationed on one-plank platforms running along the sides of the canvas, the man on the top plank working down as low as be can, the man below him starting where his mate leaves off, and so on to the bottom. Before the first coat is allowed to set hard it is pumiced down to make it smooth and even. Both sides receive at least two coats of this thickish paint., then the upper side is treated with two or three more coats of thin paint, put on with a brush properly; it is then pumiced down again, and a final coat leaves it ready for the printing rooms.

These canvases weigh half a ton, and there was over a mile of canvas being treated at the time of our visit. Our canvas having been left hanging for two or three weeks it is now set hard and dry, so it is ingeniously wound round a roller and taken to the “printeries” where it undergoes that artistic treatment so familiar to our eyes in the multitudinous patterns, and in the working of the hundred and one colours seen in the rolls of oil-cloth you meet with everywhere.

The printing “lofts” harmoniously correspond with the “flies” of a stage; ropes, battens, gridirons, cloths, little gangways, everything, in fact, that one has seen in the place named you come across in the lofts of an oil-cloth factory.

Our canvas being fixed into position, it is allowed to pass over a table twenty-four feet long to receive the impression of the printing blocks. A separate block is required for every colour introduced into the pattern, the blocks being eighteen inches square. In the old days the printer had to use considerable personal force in pressing down on the block to make the requisite impression, but now a hand press, which travels along a trolley fixed overhead, is used.

Every colour in use has its own pad, and this is fed by a boy; a follower aids the printer. The blocks are usually made of deal, and the pattern is cut out in the wood; for very fine work the pattern is cut in brass.

To proceed : the printer takes up the block he wants, presses it on the pad of colour–the pads are all arranged in order at his book—and then applies it to the surface of the painted cloth. In some patterns as many as ten blocks are used, but the usual number is about five. He goes right across the cloth from one side to the other with one block at a time, and then goes over the same ground again with the second block. this method being observed till all the blocks have been used. The cloth having been printed it is taken to the drying warehouse, where it hangs for several weeks drying, at the end of which time it is varnished and then left to dry for another week or two.

If there was at the time of our visit a mile of canvas and over under the initial treatment there must have been at least five or six miles of cloth depending from the roof of the high building, all being seasoned.

The varnishing process is, of course, simple, but it puts on a smiling face to the cloths which before that treatment wear a sad, dull countenance.

Although the paint used differs in nothing from that used by the ordinary house painter, yet we could not conscientiously recommend you to try to paint your doors with it.

In order to bring their business up to modern wants and usages, a heat-drying warehouse has lately been erected where cloths are seasoned by artificial heat, which is pumped into the rooms by a patent engineering device, the heat being generated by engines in an adjoining building.

Kamptulicon was the pioneer of the new departure in floor-cloths, and was brought into use a little over fifty years ago. Oil-cloth has been in existence since 1745.

Alter kamptulicon came linoleum, about thirty years ago, invented by a Mr. Walton.

Source: Pearson’s Weekly – Saturday 29 October 1898 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

Tamworth Park

Road that runs between Commonside East, about a fifth of a mile east of the Beehive Bridge, and Tamworth Lane.

The three fields shown in this 1866 OS map, between The Cedars and Tamworth Lodge, is likely to be the plot referred to in the 1873 sale below.

1866 OS map

This building plot of about 9 acres was advertised for sale in an ad in 1873 where it was described that 40 feet of the road had already been laid out.

From the Globe – Saturday 21 June 1873

MITCHAM, Surrey.

— Tamworth-park Estate, about nine acres of valuable Freehold Building Land, immediately fronting Mitcham-common (an open space of 600 to 700 acres extent, which can never be built upon or enclosed). on the high road to Croydon, within 15 minutes’ walk of the Mitcham Junction Station on the South London, Peckham, and Sutton branch of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, whence 43 trains run daily to London-bridge, Victoria. and Waterloo Stations, and within tbo same distance of the Beddington and the Mitcham Stations on the Croydon and Wimbledon line of the London and South-Western Railway. A 40 foot road with footways and sower have been made across the property, so that it is fit for immediate building operations. It contains gravel in abundance, is adorned with handsome elm and other ornamental trees, and is admirably adapted for those seeking sites for superior villa residences in a healthy and highly favoured locality, which can never be over built. Immediate possession on completion of the purchase.

MESSRS. DRIVER have received instructions to SELL by AUCTION, at the MART, Tokenhouse-yard, on TUESDAY. the 1st of July, at Two o’clock precisely, the above valuable BUILDING PROPERTY, in six lots.—Particulars shortly of C. B. Hallward, Esq., solicitor, 5. Mitre-court, Temple; and of Messrs. Driver, Surveyors, Land Agents, and Auctioneers. 4, Whitehall, London, S. W.

This 1894 OS map shows that the road had been started from the Commonside East end, the remaining part being a track to Tamworth Lane. The dotted red lines mark an area that, when measured on a geo-referenced map, measures out an area of around 9 acres.

1894 OS map

On this map there are two houses, and these are listed by name in the 1898 street directory:

(Elmhurst), Col. Allan Graeme RAPER
(Tamworth), George WATT

This 1910 OS map shows the houses that were built on the right hand side of the road at the Commonside East end.

1910 OS map

The 1910-1911 street directory lists the houses from Commonside East and on the left, or north-west side are the named houses Elmhurst and Tamworth, and on the right, or south-east side, there are 26 houses numbered sequentially from 1.

Tamworth park, from Coomon side east.

NORTH-WEST SIDE

(Elmhurst), Mrs UPTON
(Tamworth), Thomas DEVEREUX

SOUTH-EAST SIDE

1, William R. BOON
2, Leonard GREEN
3, Albert John STINTON
4, William ROOK
5, George S. BROWNE
6, Albert William ILES
7, Alfred BERRY
9, Arthur LOTT
10, John SCHOFIELD
11, William ELLIS
12, James George BEVERIDGE
13, Herbert Alfred COPPING
14, Frank PIKE
16, John ROBERTSON
17, John J. HUNT
18, William CHURCH
19, William Henry HALL
20, Albert Edward STEPHENS
22, Albert James McGARLANE
23, William C. CHARLWOOD
24, Alfred BRIGHT

Lamp Post Letter Box

25, James Skinner HEARN
26, Charles R. EVES

Note that numbers 8, 15 and 21 are not listed with an occupant.

In the 1925 street directory the houses have been renumbvered even from 2 to 52.

Tamworth park, from Common side east.

NORTH-WEST SIDE

(Elmhurst), Mrs E.J. UPTON
(Tamworth), Thomas DEVEREUX

SOUTH-EAST SIDE

2, William Richard BOON
4, William Alfred BUTLER
6, Henry BRAKELL
8, William ROOK
10, George Samuel BROWNE
12, William Griffith POWELL
14, Henry William CROUCHER
16, Alfred Ernest GREATOREX
18, Mrs M. LOTT
20, John SCHORFIELD
22, Mrs HUMPHREY
24, James George BEVERIDGE and Clarence S. BEVERIDGE, piano tuner
26, George Edwin MASKELL
28, Charles GRAY
30, William MUNN
32, Andrew C. McKECHNIE
34, Walter Humby TREVETT
36, Edward Henry ANDREWS
38, Herbert TURNER
40, Albert Edward STEPHENS
42, Mrs E. UNDERWOOD
44, Anthony CUMING
46, William HUBBARD
48, Alfred SIMMONS
50, James Skinner HEARN
52, Charles N. STOKES

Eric Montague, in his book Mitcham Histories : 3 Pollards Hill, Commonside East and Lonesome, pages 56-7, said that

the northern end of the road was constructed in the late 1920s by the Tamworth Park Construction Company owned by Joseph Owen. Numbers 25 – 51, on the south-western side of the road, like the houses numbered 263 – 273 Commonside East, are in the contrasting art deco style of the 1930s, which owed much to the inspiration of Continental architects, and was perhaps more suited to the south of France. White cement-rendered walls, bright green-glazed pan-tiled roofs, and large metal-framed windows set them apart from the more traditional architecture of the Home Counties.

The 1927 electoral registers shows even numbered houses from 2 to 74, and the addition of odd houses numbered 53 to 75.

clip from September 1929 photo of south east side of Tamworth Park, no.s 2 to 52. From Mertom Memories, photo reference Mit_Streets_P_Wil_68-1

This 1955 OS map shows number 54 away from the road, behind number 52. I am assuming that this was the site office and yard for the building company, Tamworth Park Construction. Later there were car repair workshops and lock-ups. This was redeveloped as Worthington Close, in around 1988/9.

1955 OS map


People

From the Mitcham Golf Club archives:

Jimmy Hearn (no. 25) was the professional to Prince’s Golf Club of Mitcham for over thirty years. He grew up with J.H. Taylor in Devon. Jimmy’s daughter Vera married Nelson Hambly who succeeded Jimmy as professional to Mitcham Golf Club. Nelson was professional there for c. 20 years.

Note that no. 25 was renumbered to 50, see directories above.

In the Norwood News – Tuesday 9th September 1924, the Childrens Circle, conducted by “DADDY”, published correspondence by Ida Hearn from no. 25.

PRIZE AWARD.

Daddy gives two lovely books as prizes every week for the best poetry sent in. The prizes this week go to:—

IDA HEARN,
25, Tamworth-park, Mitcham.

ERNEST DEATH,
“Oakhurst,” Graham-avenue, Mitcham.

AN INTERESTING LETTER.

Dear Daddy,

— I have been very interested in the Children’s Circle. and I thought I should like to become one of your members. I am sending you In a piece of poetry, a riddle, and a joke, which I hope you will see fit to publish, I attend Upper Mitcham Girls’ School. Wishing the Circle the best of luck, Your loving daughter, IDA HEARN. 25, Tamworth-park, Mitcham, Surrey.

POETRY

THE GIRL WORTH WHILE

‘Tis easy enough to be pleasant,
When life flows along like a song,
But the girl worth while is the girl who will smile,
When everything goes dead wrong,
For the test of the heart is trouble,
And it always comes with the years,
And the smile that is worth the promise of earth
Is the smile that comes through tears.


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