Tag Archives: 1933

1960 : Explosion showers acid over homes

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 15th January, 1960, page 1.

Explosion hurls vat top through roof of factory

ACID IS SHOWERED OVER HOMES
And two boys at play are covered

Acid showered over homes in the Batsworth Road, Mitcham, area on Friday after an explosion in a factory nearby.

The explosion hurled the top of a vat through the factory roof. A stream of acid followed and firemen were called to hose it from homes and the street.

The factory is W.J. Bush, synthetic chemists, Batsworth Road, scene of an explosion in 1933 whiched wrecked and damaged nearby homes, and killed a child. People in the neighbourhood have never forgotten it.

Mystery

Friday’s explosion remains a mystery. The fac†ory would make no comment.

It happened in the evening as Mr Albert Bowdery, who lives nearby, went to buy some tobacco.

“I heard the bang and thought at first that a tower was going to fall, then I saw something rush through the roof.

“I hurried back indoors and called to my daughter-in-law: ‘Quick, the children.’ We ran with them into the road. It would not take much to make this old building collapse.”

Mr Bowdery’s daughter-in-law Violet, has two young children – John and Linda.

Mr Bowdery said: “The explosion reminded people of the 1933 incident. They are always a bit worried about the factory.

“We don’t know what goes on there.”

The shop of greengrocer Mrs L. Langridge was covered in a “sort of white wash.”

“We are still cleaning up. A pair of my overalls are ruined. We could not let the children play outside.”

A nearby butcher, Mr J. Stopher, said: “The sanitary people inspected my goods, and, to be on the safe side, I have handed over a quantity of lamb, although it was not contaminated as far as we can tell. The damage was done to the outside of my shop.”

An elderly painter said: “We worry about the factory because many of us remember the tragedy of 1933.”

Soon after the explosion Michael Fullick and his brother Norman went out to play. They became covered in the acid.

Baths

“When we found out we gave them baths immediately,” said mr F. Fullick, licensee of the Bath Tavern.

Firemen were given rubber gloves when they arrived at the factory. A works chemist gave them advice on how to deal with the spilt sulphuric acid.

Zion Congregational Chapel

A chapel that was in Western Road, the site of the present Lidl store.

Image courtesy of Collage - The London Picture Library - http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk

1978 Image courtesy of Collage – The London Picture Library – http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk

1910 OS map shows ‘Chap.’ (chapel) and ‘Sch.’ (school). The site is occupied by Lidl (in 2017).

The chapel and a Sunday school next to it was built in 1819. It was deconsecrated in 1930 and sold off and used by light industrial companies. Around 80 bodies were reburied in the new London Road cemetery.

The building was demolished in the late 1980s.

Source: Mitcham Histories : 14 Upper Mitcham and Western Road, by Eric Montague, chapter 9 ‘Zion Chapel’.


From the Mitcham Advertiser of 1st May 1914 :

One of the old landmarks is Zion Congregational Church, which this week celebrated its 95th anniversary with a series of successful gatherings. For close on a century good useful work has been carried on, and the church has a record for long service. It used to be known simply as Zion Church, one of the real old Independent churches. The Rev. R. Richman, the present minister, has served in that capacity for 34 years, more than one third of the church’s existence.

Mr Richman is a well known and highly respected figure in Mitcham. His work has not been confined to the church alone, for he has always taken a keen interest in the local government, and he has served on the Parish Council. He is still a member of the school managers, and in that direction does good work. In his church he is surrounded by body of zealous workers, many of whom have been engaged there for a long period of years, in fact one at least can boast of a longer record than the pastor himself, and that is Mr Gardener, the secretary of the Sunday school, who has held that post for 39 years.

This has been quite a week of presentations in Mitcham. On Monday night a presentation was made to Mr A. Gardener at Zion church in recognition of his 25 years service as a deacon. He is also Superintendent of the Sunday school. The name of Gardener has been associated with Zion Church for years. Mr Gardener’s mother was a descendant of the Huguenots. Yet another presentation at Zion Church was to Mr Simmons, another deacon, who has also been treasurer of the church, this week celebrated his silver wedding, he having been married at Zion Chapel 25 years ago.

For more details of the early vicars, see the ‘Mitcham entry in the Story of Congregationalism in Surrey‘.

Married at the old Zion chapel on 13th January 1883, was Mr and Mrs Robinson Henery AMBROSE, who celebrated their golden anniversary at the Mitcham Garden Village on 13th January, 1933, according to the Mitcham News & Mercury of that date. They were active members of the Salvation Army.


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

Jersey Road

Road east of Ipswich Road and south of Seeley Road.

1933 OS map

1933 OS map

Occupants listed in the 1915 street directory:

From Links Road to Seeley Road
4, Alfred George NORRIS
6, Frank Ewart MASSEY
12, Victor PENNECARD

World War 1 Connections

From the Surrey Recruitment Registers:

F H NICHOLLS of 16 Jersey Road, aged 28 Years 9 Months, Compositor. Conscripted on 4 February 1917 to the 110th Training Reserve Batn.

From the Military Service Tribunals:

Mitcham & Tooting Mercury, 14th December, 1917
Mitcham Tribunal

Mr W. Chilcott, age 29 (C2), a paper traveller, of Jersey-road, Tooting Junction, said he had one child, and a happy event was expected shortly in the family. There was no one to look after the wife if he joined up. Applicant said he had left his late employers, and was now a lathe operator. He held an exemption certificate, made by his employers. He said he was passed for labour at home, and was willing to do that work if needed. He had been rejected previously. Applicant said he had noticed that some Tribunals had given men conditional exemption if they did work of national importance.

Three months’ exemption.



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

R.F. White & Co., Ltd.

Toilet, shaving and medicated soaps.
Grove Mills, London Road, Mitcham, Surrey. Telephone: Mitcham 4035 and 3156.
Vacated Grove Mills in 1979 when the company relocated to Peterborough. Source: Wandle Conservation Area assessment (pdf).

Listed in the 1963 List of Factories.

1947 ad

1947 ad


Text of ad:

Silversilk (regd.)
Toilet Soap De Luxe ..

Retail Price (Inclusive of Purchase tax)

Per 5d. Tablet
ONE COUPON
Three ounces when manufactured.

Made at Mitcham

R. F. White & Co.
Mitcham

News Articles

From Mitcham News & Mercury, 6th January 1933

The Man and the Suitcase

A story of smart capture by the police in the early hours of the morning was told to the Croydon County magistrates on Friday, when Thomas Walter Miller (40), Pevensey Road, Tooting, described as a blacksmith, was charged with breaking into the office at the Grove Mills, London Road, Mitcham, on the night of December 29-30, and stealing two suit cases and various travellers’ samples, soaps, scent, etc., the property of R. F. White and Co., Grove Mills, London Road, Mitcham.

Inspector Shurey said that at 2.30 a.m. that morning, in company with P.C.s Ives and Col, he was patrolling in a police motor-car. While going down Church Road, Mitcham, P.C. Ives, who was in the back seat, drew witness’s attention to a man coming along Church Path carrying a suitcase. Witness drove the car to the first turning and then reversed. They searched along Church Path and in the vicinity, but failed to find the man.

“Found the case”

The car then went down Western Road, proceeded witness, and at the junction of Western Road and Phipps Bridge Road met the constable on the beat. In consequence of what the constable said, witness kept observation, and at 6.45 a.m. the defendant went into a coffee stall at the junction of Christ Church Road and Phipps Lane Road. He obtained a suit-case, and then started to walk towards Colliers Wood. Witness told him they were police officers, and asked him what he had got in the case. Defendant said that he had found it in Western Road. Witness looked in the case and found it contained soaps, scent, etc., and told defendant he was not satisfied with his explanation. He would be arrested on a charge of unlawful possession. Defendant made no reply.

The defendant was conveyed in the car to Mitcham police station, and on arrival the police had just had information that Messrs. White’s offices, soap manufacturers, of London Road, had been broken into. Defendant, when charged, made no reply.

On application of the police, Miller was remanded for a week, bail being refused.

From Mitcham News & Mercury, 13th January 1933

TOOTING MAN SENT FOR TRIAL
THE BLACKSMITH AND THE SUITCASE

Thomas Waller Miller, described as a blacksmith, of Pevensey-road, Tooting, was on Friday committed by the Croydon County magistrates to tho London Sessions for trial on a charge of breaking and entering the office of the Grove Mills, London-road, Mitcham, and stealing suitcases containing travellers samples of soap, scent, etc., value £5, the property of R. F. White and Co.

Defendant appeared on remand, and at the previous hearing Inspector Shurey gave evidence as to patrolling Church-road, Mitcham, in a police motor-car, when a constable in the car drew his attention to a man coming down Church Path with a suitcase. Later, when spoken to, defendant said he found the case in Western-road.

Mr. Harry Leonard GAUNTLETT, The Park, Mitcham, managing director of R. F, White, said that the premises were left secure on the night of December 29. The following morning the office was in disorder. A back window on the river side of the premises had been forced by some instrument. Drawers had been turned out, and letters thrown all over the place. A number of unemployment insurance books with all the stamps on were missing.

Defendant said he absolutely denied breaking into the place, and said he found the case in Western-road. He made an application for bail but the police opposed, and it was refused.

B. E. Bird off-licence Streatham Road

Beatrice Ellen Bird’s off-licence was at 221 Streatham Road, on the corner with Caithness Road. This block of shops and flats above was built in 1911 and was called Grand Parade.

1930 clip from Merton Memories photo 51584

1930 clip from Merton Memories photo 51584 Copyright London Borough of Merton

1933 ad

1933 ad

Listed in the 1954 telephone directory as

Bird B.E. Ltd, Off Licence, 221 Streatham Road, MIT 2466 and 339 Lower Addiscombe Road, Croydon ADD 1353

170 to 174 Church Road

A terrace of 4 shops, with flats above, numbers 170, 172, 172A, 172B, going north on the east side of Church Road. Number 174 is a shop at the northern end of this terrace on the corner with Hawthorn Avenue.

Number 174 is on the left in this Google StreetView.

The shops in 2015 were

170 : Danmirr Associates
172 : New Wonder Chinese Takeaway
172A : S & J Sandwich Bar
172B : off-licence
174 : Shalini’s Newsagent

According to a fellow on the Facebook Mitcham History Group, the corner shop,
number 174 :

was Reeds … it was ran by two ladies, one extremely old the other may of been her daughter, the barbers was Frank Gretch’s shop, Kents/Jacks sweet shop was taken over in the early 70s by footballer Butch Wilkins parents for a short while, the last shop was always empty then became a cafe, then a Chinese takeaway,next to that was the rubber belt factory Belatas I think, then became Gough bros wine warehouse

It was Shalini’s since around 1974/5.


In a planning application for number 172A, Merton Council refused the change of use for the sandwich shop to residential because:

The application site is located on land that was historically used as a varnishing works. There are no records to indicate that remediation works were carried out on the site at the time the present properties were built. The applicant has failed to provide a land contamination report with submission of the application to demonstrate that there will be no adverse risk to future occupiers. Proposed development is there a risk due to the risk from the land contamination.

Source: Planning application 16/P1540.

1933 Fire alarm test during Fire Brigade Dinner

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 28th April, 1933 page 1

A TEST was tried at the tenth annual dinner of the Mitcham Urban District Council Fire Brigade last Friday night. While the guests and firemen were seated arround the festive board in the Vestry Hall, a fire alarm suddenly and unexpectedly sounded. Consternation was written on the faces of everybody when the firemen jumped to attention and rushed out of the room. Within 70 seconds the fire engine was in the street, fully manned and ready for action. Then it was announced that the alarm was only a test. It sufficed to prove the efficiency of the Brigade even on such an auspicious occasion as their annual dinner, and it also assured the guests, and through them the public, that no chance is taken when the firemen are enjoying themselves, in safeguarding life and property. It was a very effective move.