Tag Archives: 1923

Sergeant Donald Henry Gilbert Browett

Donald Browett was born on September 26, 1923. He was the eldest son of Harry & Ivy Browett, he had two brothers and a sister, Richard, Brian & Margaret. In the 1922 electoral register, Harry Browett is listed as living at 67 Robinson Road.

Donald went to school in Mitcham. He was interested in airplanes, and he made models of them using balsa wood. His father made him work as a delivery man, a family business, and he delivered baskets of vegetables with a horse. When he turned 18, he joined the RAF.

He was a Sergeant (Air Bomber) with 50 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Service Number 1318489.

He died 9th June 1944 as part of crew of Lancaster bomber, LL841 VNO, which crashed in Betton, France. Buried in Bayux Cemetery, France.

Commonwealth War Grave Commission casualty record
Memorial Service 8th May 2013 website (in French)

1923 : Seaton Road Feuds

From the Norwood News – Tuesday 5th June 1923, via the British Newspaper Archive


A feud among gipsy folk living at Seaton road, Mitcham, culminated on Saturday in quite a colony of them appearing at Croydon County Police Court.

They swarmed about the precincts of the Court to the extent that everybody was asking what was the matter.

The full details of the feud or vendetta did not come to light, and the public were disappointed, inasmuch as the story was not told for their benefit.

Evidently something serious happened in Seaton-road on May 19, and the outcome was 19 summonses and cross-summonses for assault. Leonard Dixie and his wife, Britannia Dixie, of Seaton-road, were summoned for assaulting William Smith and Alice May Hudson; Mercy Sparrowhawk, of Portland-road, Mitcham, charged with assaulting Amy Deakins, Britannia Dixie and Leonard Dixie; Phoebe Smith, William Smith, John Smith and William Smith, junior, all summoned for assaulting Leonard Dixie and Britannia Dixie and Thomas Edmund Stevens for assaulting Louisa Stevens, on the 20th.

Louisa Stevens did not appear to charge Thomas Edmund Stevens.

The charge sheet looked so formidable as to almost stagger the sitting magistrates.

Sir Arthur Spurgeon, chairman of the Bench, hit on a happy idea. He got all the parties ranged together on one side of the Court. There they stood in a row, with a crowd of onlookers greatly interested in them.

Mr. Clark, solicitor for some of the parties, said: I would suggest to your Worship that everybody be bound over.

The Chairman : We cannot do that at this stage.


Mr. Stanley Gibson said he represented the Dixies, who were summoned ten times and in turn were the prosecutors four times. His friend, Mr. Clark, was in six of the cases, and he must say they were both mystified how to settle the whole business.

The Chairman : How did the trouble originate?

Mr. Gibson : There was a general fight on May 19, and it is the outcome of that.

The Chairman : What led to the fight — a wedding?

Mr Gibson: I could not say.

The Chairman: Or perhaps a funeral?

Mr. Gibson : I don’t know.

The Chairman : You don’t know much about it then.

Mr. Gibson: My instructions are that a fight was going on when my clients, the Dixies arrived on the scene. How the original fight started we cannot say.

The Chairman : This is evidently a quarrel amongst families. I don’t know who is to blame, and I suppose if you heard all the cases we should not get to the bottom of it. The result, one pretty well knows, would be to find there were six to one and half-a-dozen to the other. All the lot are mixed up, summoning and cross-summoning one another, and what will be the advantage in the end to any particular party, I fail to see. My suggestion is that they should all shake hands and go home.


The Clerk : That is the best thing, Sir Arthur, and let them bury the hatchet.

Both Mr. Clark and Mr. Gibson intimated they were agreeable to settle the dispute in that way. Meanwhile the parties looked on bewildered.

The Chairman : What do you say, Dixie?

Dixie : I don’t want to punish anybody.

The Chairman : Certainly not ; and you have no objection to shaking hands with these people and letting bygones be bygones?

Dixie (reluctantly): No.

The Chairman: And you, Smith, your are also agreeable to shake hands and let bygones be bygones?

Smith : Yes.

The Chairman : Come on, then, you two shake hands.

Smith approached Dixie and held out his hand. Dixie paused a moment, and then took the outstretched hand in his own.

Mrs. Dixie refused to shake hands with Smith, and indignantly brushed past him.

Alice May Hudson shouted out that she did not agree to a settlement in this way. She handed up to the Bench a doctor’s certificate as to the state of her health.

The Chairman : Of course, the usual bruises, and lost hair. (Laughter.)

Smith said he would take the responsibility for his married daughter, who objected, and withdrew proceedings on her behalf.

The Chairman : Very well, that is the best ending. All the cases are withdrawn.

The ending was so sudden and abrupt that all the parties looked at one another in amazement.

The Court was quickly cleared, but the parties remained about the corridors for a long while after, and there were heated conversations going on.

1923 : Woodland Way burglary


Vocalist’s Story of Ransacked Rooms.

On returning from a three months’ holiday at Barmouth Mrs Edwards Rhys, Woodland Way, Mitcham, found that her house had been broken into and articles to the value of £300 taken. Miss Cordelia Rhys, a Welsh costume vocalist and Eisteddfod singer, said that when she reached home with her mother they found the upstairs rooms ransacked and clothes and other goods piled in heaps, showing that the thieves intended returning for more. The goods taken include two valuable musquash fur coats, linen, and jewellery, including three gold bracelets. They also took a child’s War Savings Certificates and money-boxes. “But what we most regret,” said Miss Rhys, is that the 1914 Star and other decorations belonging to my dead brother, Captain Rhys, were also taken.”

Source: Dundee Evening Telegraph – Thursday 26 July 1923 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

Note that in 1923 Woodland Way had only two houses.

James Chuter Ede, Mitcham MP in 1923

10th March, 1923. Image © Illustrated London News Group. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

Right Honourable James Chuter Ede, P.C. (1944), M.P., son of James Ede, of Epsom.

Born 1882; educated Dorking High School and Chrit’s College Cambridge.
Married 1917 to Lilian Mary (died 1948), daughter of Richard Williams, of Plymouth.

Served in Great War with 5th East Surrey regiment and special brigade of R.E.

D.L. (Deputy Lieutenant) (1931), J.P. (1923).

Chairman of Surrey County Council 1933-37; M.P. (Labour) Surrey (Mitcham division) in 1923 and South Shields 1929-31 and from 1935. Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Education 1940-45, Secretary of state, Home Office 1945-51.

Leader of the House of Commons 1951.

Chairman of London and Home Counties Joint Electricity Authority 1934-40.

Oxford and Cambridge Club.

7 Tayles Hill, Ewell, Surrey.

Source: Kelly’s Handbook to the Titled, Landed & Official Classes, 1952 from Find My Past (subscription required)

He died at Ewell, Surrey, in November 1965, aged 83.

More information on wikipedia.

Gorringe Park Estate

News Articles

BLAZE AT MITCHAM. A fire which could be seen for miles around broke out last Monday night in large piggery and stables and the Gorringe Park Estate, Mitcham. A large number of pigs and horses were rescued without hurt, but the fire brigade were taxed to the utmost owing to the Sutton blaze.

Source: Shepton Mallet Journal – Friday 07 September 1923 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

Cock Chimney Factory in Batsworth Road

A local landmark in Batsworth Road, off Church Road, Mitcham. It is possible it may have been built in mid 19th century. The land was sold to London Borough of Merton in late 1960s, and the area is now occupied by a trading estate.

The firm of Donald Macpherson occupied the site until 1969, and the chimney had their brand ‘Foochow’ in letters running down the side of the chimney. Macpherson was started in 1884 as a paint, varnish and Chinese lacquer business, based in Manchester. The company’s telegram address was ‘Foochow, Manchester’.

Macphersons Trade Paints became part of the Crown Paints Group in 2008.

The chimney was first mentioned in Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 17 August 1889 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

Fatal Fall from a Chimney.

—An inquest was held at the Mortuary on Saturday last before Mr. R. D. Muir, deputy coroner, and a jury, concerning the death of Thomas H. Haslam, 25, Cow Cross-street, St. Luke’s, an engineer’s fitter. It appeared that on the previous Thursday the deceased, with a labourer, was sent to some repairs to what is known the “Cock” chimney at a varnish factory in Church-lane, and, having engaged lodgings at 15, Holmwood-road, proceeded to inspect the shaft.

Having ascended to some considerable height, deceased by some means lost his hold and fell with great force to the bottom.

Medical aid was summoned, and the man removed to his lodgings, where expired the same night.

The jury having viewed the body and having heard the medical and other evidence, and the Deputy-Coroner very carefully summed up, a verdict of “Accidental Death” was returned.

1945 ad

Donald Macpherson co. Ltd., Cock Chimney Works, Mitcham (paint manufacturers), require the following clerical staff: 2 Invoice Clerks. Order Clerks, Shorthand-Typists, Telephone Operator; good post-war prospects, possibility of advancement. Please reply to the above address or telephone for appointment, Mitcham 2963.

Source: Surrey Advertiser – Saturday 13 January 1945 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

aerial photo from 1947 and 1952 OS map

aerial photo from 1947 and 1952 OS map

Merton Memories Photos
JJ Schweizer

From the phone book



In the 1896 street directory, listed as John Jacob Schweizer, varnish manufacturer.


1912 to 1914

1915 Heyl phone

1915 and 1916


1919 to 1921







From the minutes of the
Town Planning and Development Committee
31st October 1968


– The Borough Surveyor reported that the Cock Chimney Works, which occupied four detached sites in Batsworth Road and Chapel Road comprising a total area of approximately 1.56 acres, had been offered for sale to the Council. He explained that the works were situated in an area allocated primarily for industrial use in the Initial Development Plan, but which had been re-allocated primarily for residential use in the First Review of the Plan now before the Minister of Housing and Local Government. He reported: —

(i) that the works were within an area at present being studied with a view to environmental improvement and adjoined other property which had been purchased by the Council, or its predecessors. for ultimate redevelopment for residential purposes;

(ii) that, to implement planning objectives in the area, the acquisition of the works had to be firstly considered from a town planning point of view and secondly as a prospective housing site; and

(iii) upon the estimated cost of acquiring other properties in the neighbourhood to form a viable site for residential redevelopment and on the likely housing gain which would be achieved.

Resolved – That the Borough Surveyor be authorised to negotiate terms for the purchase of the Cock Chimney Works and requested to report further to a subsequent meeting.

Source: Minutes of Proceedings of the Council and committees, London Borough of Merton, Volume 5 1968-69, page 806

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

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