Tag Archives: 1944

1944 : Bath Road Condemned but still Inhabited

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 24th November, 1944

BATH ROAD CONDEMNED BUT STILL INHABITED

When Will The Huts Come?

The Job is Urgent in Mitcham

Deplorable Conditions

Sir Malcolm Trustram Eve, K.C., is Lord Woolton’s Chief of Staff in connection with the repair of bombed houses in the London area. Recently he paid a visit to the Town Hall.

Where he ought to have gone was Bath-road, Mitcham.

A member of our editorial staff – most appropriately, perhaps a young woman member – has been there, and her description of what she saw may be a spur to Sir Malcolm, the Mitcham Council, and all concerned.

When I visited Bath-road I asked the people there if they would prefer to live in the Baths Hall, which the Housing Committee, on the suggestion of the Housing Manager (Miss B. Thrupp) recommended should be turned into a hostel.

Their “No” was unanimous.

They do not want a glorified shelter life.

Many were under the impression that they could not remain there during the day, and said that night shelter alone was no use to them. I understand that the people were to be allowed to remain there if they wished.

Now, owing to lack of support, it seems unlikely that the hall will be opened as a hostel, though at the time of writing the committee’s decision is not public.

What are the conditions in Bath-road?

All the houses there are condemned. And rightly so. For even in its best days Bath-road was never a health resort. Now it is utterly desolate.

Like War Derelict Area.

It is like a deserted battlefield, grey, derelict, and very quiet; an apparently uninhabited place. There was no sign of life as I entered it. Ruined houses, most of them open to wind and rain lay on either side. Here and there attempts had been made to board up doors and windows, but most gaped open to disclose broken walls and piled-up rubble. Yet amid the ruins of these houses I estimate that over sixty men, women and children are living in conditions that can be best described as mediaeval. Often the only way of telling if a house is occupied is by a thin column of smoke that rises from the ruins.

I had thought the place deserted, and then I counted nine columns of smoke.

It came as rather a shock to know that behind these grey, silent walls so many families were living. Few have any lighting apart from lamps and candles.

Drains have been blocked by rubble, so that there is no proper sanitation.

There is not one room in the road that is wind- and water-proof. These conditions have existed since July.

Suddenly, at the far end of the road, a child appeared. She went to the door of a broken house, and as she called a woman appeared and sold her potatoes. It was Mrs Gibbs. She told me she lived there with her daughter. She showed me a room lighted by a fire and a little light from a boarded window. The walls were wet and laths showed in the ceiling.

Children’s Voices

“We sleep in an Anderson, but about 3 a.m. are usually so cold that we get up and come into the house,” she said.

“A lot of people live in the houses opposite,” she told me. I knocked on the loose door of one of them, and as there was no answer, walked into a narrow, damp passage. The stairs were broken, the front room a mass of rubble and broken rafters, but from the back of the house came children’s voices.

There, living in one room, with only the barest furniture, was Mrs Smith and her four children. Last week her husband went overseas. He is very unhappy about his family, especially as his wife is expecting another child in February. At present they sleep in the Tube.

“I want a place near so that my sister can look after me when the baby is born. I cannot go on much longer in these conditions and feel sure that if the Council officials could see what conditions are like here they would do something about it,” she said. She said she was one of the first on the list for huts.

The Universal Question

“When do the huts arrive?” she asked, a question I was asked by every family to whom I spoke. I was unable to give an encouragng reply, for only the day before the Borough Surveyor (Mr Riley Schofield) had said that it was unlikely that any huts would be available in Mitcham before Christmas!

Next door to Mrs Smith live Mrs Clark and her son, the latter home on sick leave from the Merchant Navy. Next to them is her son, Charles Clark. He, with his wife and five children, all sleep in an Anderson and live in a small draughty room. He, too, asked, “When do the huts arrive?” And with reason, for his wife is expecting another child.

Later, as I passed an apparently derelict house, a woman in a red coat appeared from a broken doorway. “Do you want to see us?” she asked, and going in, I found her 72-year old mother, Mrs Rachel Smith, having tea by candlelight. The room was dark, for all the windows were boarded up and furniture salvaged from other rooms was stacked round the walls. The front room was piled with rubble, the stairs were unsafe. The habited room is probably unsafe. “I cannot sleep here, for there is no bed, and so I go down the Tube. We cannot lock the room, and one night things were stoeln. I have lived here all my married life, and my thirteen children were born here,” she said.

Her daughter, Mrs Penfold, is expecting her husband, who is serving overseas, home at Christmas. “I have no home to offer him. What shall I do?” she asked.

Further down the road lives Mr Honey with six others, two of them are sick, in a tiny kitchen. They sleep in Andersons in what used to be their garden.

People living in similar conditions in Chapel-road and Century-road. They know that hundreds are in like plight, though I doubt if any borough can show a worse area than Bath-road. The people there seemed glad that someone, even if only a newspaper reporter, was taking an interest in them, though many of them showed disappointment when they found that it was “only a reporter” and not “someone from the Council.”

Several families said they felt that more would have been done if members of the Council had seen conditions for themselves.

When Mrs Smith learnt that Sir Malcolm Trustram Eve had been down to the Town Hall she said : “I wish he had come down here, then he would have known how badly we need those huts.”

Alfred Henry Bailey

Alderman and mayor of Mitcham 1944-45. Born 1876, died 22nd May, 1959.

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 17th November 1944 with his wife photographed after the Mayor’s formal election the previous week.

His obituary as reported in the local press:

Mr A.H. Bailey, former mayor, Boer War veteran and campaigner for a better Mitcham, died on Friday after a short illness. He was 82.

Throughout his long connection with Mitcham he fought for improvements. It is through his efforts that Mitcham was provided with two secondary schools.

In recent years, despite his age, Mr Bailey continued to play an active part in local organisations and affairs.

Mr Bailey came to the district in 1909. For several years until his death he lived in a bungalow at Glebe Court Estate, London Road.

Before he met his wife and settled down he was a roamer. He went to South Africa in 1895, and fought in the Boer War.

He joined an uitlander regiment and, as sergeant, took part in the battles preceding the relief of Ladysmith.

After being a member of Mitcham Urban District Council for six years he was elected chairman in 1926. Since then he has served the district in almost every civic capacity.

He became a member of the Borough Council in 1935, an alderman in 1937 and in 1944 he and his wife became Mayor and Mayoress.

His interests in Mitcham were many. He was president of the local boy scouts association for 17 years, a war-time deputy chief warden, founder member of the North Mitcham Improvement Association and founder member of the Anglo-Netherlands Association – now the All Nations’ Sports and Cultural Association.

Mr Bailey’s funeral was on Wednesday (27th May, 1959) at South London Crematorium.

Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 29th May 1959

More information on his life was given in a profile in the The South Warder, magazine of the South Mitcham Residents Association, volume 1 issue 1, November 1947.

Born in 1876 at Epsom, he attended the same primary school as Mr. Chuter Ede, the MP for Mitcham in 1923.

At the age of 12 he was apprenticed to a trade he disliked, and when in his ‘teens he emigrated to South Africa, ultimately settling in Pretoria, working in a shop for three years and becoming personally acquainted with the State Attorney (Field Marshal Smuts).

When hostilities broke out he found the lines to Cape Colony and Natal blocked, and had to escape through Portuguese territory (this route was later used by Winston Churchill). Joining a Uitiander Corps, he quickly became a sergeant and saw service at Colenso, Vaal Krantz, Spion Kop, and eventually taking part in the relief of Ladysmith; he was then invalided home to England with enteric fever.

On returning to civil life he entered the Post Office engineering service, retiring in 1936 at the age of 60.

He came to Mitcham in 1909 and was elected to the Council in 1920, and raised to the Aldermanic bench in 1937.

Mr. Bailey was very prominent in the formation of the Air Raid Precautions of the Borough and served throughout the War as a Deputy Chief Warden.

He served on many Committees of the Council and also on several outside bodies, such as School Managers, Boy Scouts, etc., where he was well known for his intelligent approach to the problems arising therein.

Perhaps the highlight in his long career was to be chosen as Mayor during V.E. year, when, in addition to his normal duties, he was seen at practically every street party held in Mitcham, accompanied and ably supported by the Mayoress, Mrs. Bailey.


In the 1911 census, Alfred Henry Bailey, inspector in the engineers department of post office telephones, is living at 48 Boscombe Road, with his wife Florence May, aged 34, and daughter Mary Alice, aged 1.

From a public family tree on Ancestry, his daughter Mary Alice married Alfred MacIntyre Rodhouse in 1938.

Alfred Henry Bailey died in 1959, as shown in his probate record, from Ancestry:

BAILEY Alfred Henry of 180 Glebe Court, London Road, Mitcham
Surrey, died 22nd May 1959 at St. Anthonys Hospital Cheam Surrey.

Probate London 9th July to Alfred MacIntyre Rodhouse quantity surveyor and Mary Alice Rodhouse (Wife of the said Alfred MacIntyre Rodhouse).

Effects £1886 13s. 8d.

Adjusted for inflation, this is worth around £40,000 in 2017 values.

Merton Memories Photos
1945
1946 visit to Hengelo
1958

WW2 – Peter Pushman

From the CWGC:

Rank: Corporal
Service No: 1454610
Date of Death: 22/09/1944
Age: 28
Regiment/Service: South Staffordshire Regiment 2nd (Airborne) Bn.
Grave Reference: 22. A. 19.
Cemetery: ARNHEM OOSTERBEEK WAR CEMETERY

Additional Information:
Son of Bert and Elizabeth Pushman; husband of Sarah Charlotte Pushman, of Sandford-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.

The Mitcham News & Mercury, 17th November 1944 reported:

1944 November 17 Pushman death

SACRIFICE AT ARNHEM

Cp. Peter Pushman, second son of Mr. and Mrs. B. Pushman, of the old-established chimney sweeps in Mitcham. As reported in the “News and Mercury,” he was killed by a mortar bomb while with the Airborne troops at Arnhem.

In the 1930 Commercial Directory of Mitcham, Bert Pushman, chimney sweep, 113 Love Lane

Robertson’s Pickle and Sauce Works Ltd

“Zalmo” Pickle Works
22 Lewis Road

1937 ad

1937 ad

In 2013, a long lost recipe for piccalilli was discovered.

Its closure in March 1969 was reported in the local newspaper, which referred to it as having been started 44 years previously, i.e. 1925.

Another small firm closes

Rising rates, inability to compete with giant supermarket and manufacturing concerns and wholesale business methods have driven another small firm to the wall.

A 44-year-old Mitcham factory, Robertson’s Pickle and Sauce Works Ltd., Lewis Road, have closed down and the owners have put the property up for sale.

A director, Mr Cyril Robertson, said this week:

“Most of my customers were small grocers – and with the advent of the supermarket they have been forced out of business. So I go down the drain too.

“Rates have risen over the past 12 years, from £56 a year to over £700.

“I can no longer get bottles for my produce – all the glass manufacturing is in the hands of four large concerns and they are only interested in mass production.”

Staff have reduced over the years, and when Robertson’s finally closed its doors in March only nine were declared redundant.

From a lifetime of working for himself in a £50,000 a year business Mr Robertson is now looking for a job.

“I’m too young to retire,” he said. “I’m only 62.”

People from the south coast and up as far as Reading will remember Robertson’s pickles, he added.

“They were the finest in the country – but then I suppose eating habits have changed too. People go out and eat more often – or just buy fish fingers to cook at home.”

Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 6th June, 1969, page 1.

This 1952 OS map shows the pickle factory.

This aerial photo shows the factory in relation to nearby factories and houses.

1952

1952

After closure, a planning application was filed to use the site for the production of plastics. This gives the size of the single-storey works at 7,000 square feet.

From the minutes of the
Town Planning and Development Committee
31st July 1969

497. LEWIS ROAD, MITCHAM — MER. 595/69 — Robertson’s Pickle and Sauce Works Limited — (Section 43 Determination)

— The Borough Surveyor submitted an application for a determination under Section 43 of the Town Country Planning Act, 1962, as to whether the proposed use of Robertson’s Pickle and Sauce Works for the moulding of reinforced plastics involving the use of polyester resins and fibreglass would constitute or involve development requiring planning permission. He explained that the premises (of single-storey construction comprising approximately 7,000 square feet floor area) were situated at the rear of Nos. 12-20, Lewis Road, fronting an access road leading to the Lewis Road recreation ground; stated that they had been used for a considerable number of years for the pickling of vegetables and the making of sauces; and reported that, since the proposed use and the last use both fell within Class IV of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order, 1963, it was clear that express planning permission would not be required.

Resolved — That the Council determine and the applicant be informed that the use, as described, would not constitute or involve development requiring planning permission.

Source: Minutes of Proceedings of the Council and committees, London Borough of Merton, Volume 6 1969-70, page 355


1944 film footage by Bruce Robertson of V1 bomb damage in nearby Glebe Avenue.


Minutes of meetings held by the London Borough of Merton 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.

Renaming of Lower Green East to Cricket Green

Road name sign at the southern end of the odd-numbered road called Cricket Green. Photo taken June 2019.

From the Corporation of Mitcham Minutes & Reports, Volume 10, 1943 to 1944
Highways Committee
18th February 1944
pages 181 to 182

Read letter from Lady Robertson suggesting that in order to avoid confusion between Lower Green East and Lower Green West, the former should be renamed “The Cricket Green” a name generally used in respect of this part of Mitcham by a large number of people.

Resolved, That the Council be recommended to agree to this proposal and to rename the highways as suggested by Lady Robertson.


Lady Robertson was the wife of Sir Malcolm Robertson, the MP for Mitcham from 1940 to 1945.


1938 OS Map

1938 OS Map


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.

William Jeffery

1943-44 mayor of Mitcham. Born 1878, died 1966, aged 88.

Clip from Merton Memories photo 50493 (c) London Borough of Merton

Clip from Merton Memories photo 50493 (c) London Borough of Merton

COUNCIL KEEP ONE MINUTE’S SILENCE

A MINUTE’s silence was observed by Merton Council last week in memory of ex-Ald. William Jeffery who died recently.

Mayor of Mitcham from 1943-44, Mr Jeffery had been ill for some time. He was a remarkable man who retired from Mitcham Council in 1958 at the age of 80. He had completed 20 years of unbroken service.

He first came to the district in 1920 and lived at Colliers Wood before moving into the centre of Mitcham.

NEVER DEFEATED

He was elected to the Urban District Council in Mitcham in 1932 and he was never defeated in local elections.

He was chairman of many council committee meetings and was elected alderman in 1946.

The Mayor of Merton, Ald. Cyril Marsh, told Merton Council that he had written to Mrs Jeffery and had sent a wreath on behalf of the council.

Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 4th February, 1966, page 1